The Gaines Group

Green Term Defined: WaterSense an EPA Partnership Program

water senseWaterSense is a label program created by the Environmental Protection Agency for consumers to easily identify water efficient products. It is similar to Energy Star in that it identifies products that are more efficient. In order to qualify a WaterSense labeled product meets the following criteria:

  • performs as well or better than their less efficient counterparts
  • are 20% more water efficient than average products in that category
  • realize water savings on a national level
  • provide measurable water savings results
  • achieve water efficiency through several technology options
  • obtain independent, third-party certification

TotoFor companies to use the WaterSense logo, they must sign a WaterSense partnership agreement with the EPA. This agreement defines the roles and responsibilities of EPA and the partnering organization, as well as proper use of the label on packaging and in marketing.

The label can be found on products for the home including bathroom sink faucets, showerheads, toilets, urinals, wather-based irrigation controllers, and even new homes. Using products with the WaterSense label reduces water consumption lowering utility bills.

WaterSense_FaucetProjected websites from the WaterSense website:

Replacing Old Faucets – 700 gallons of water annually

Replacing old toilets – 20-60% savings = 13,000 gallons of water annually

Replacing old shower heads = 2,900 gallons annually

As you can see, this could result in some nice annual reductions in your utility bill.


5 Easy way to cut your monthly electric bills this winter that you might not know


In the average new home with a forced air heating and cooling system, 30% of the air moving through the ducts leaks out before it reaches the room it is intended to heat or cool. Seal up the ducts for a better distribution of air throughout your home using mastic tape or glue. A properly designed, calibrated, and maintained system will run more efficiently. Remember to change the air filter on a regular basis to keep the air flow as designed. You may also need to have your ducts cleaned to increase efficiency of your system.


Windows are often blamed for the uncomfortable conditions of an older home, but there are bigger holes in almost all cases. Remember to look for these places that heated air is escaping from your home including the attic access / pull down stair, recessed lights, electrical outlets, and rim board. Seal these locations and reduce your energy loss.


When winter comes a warm fire is often not far behind for those fortunate to have a fireplace. However, when the fireplace is not being used, make sure it is sealed tight. At the very least, close the flue when not burning a fire. You might also consider adding air tight doors if you don’t already have them or using a fireplace balloon to make it air tight (just remember to remove the balloon before using the fireplace.


Make sure your outside mechanical equipment is cleared of any debris, snow, or landscaping that might impact the operation. Most units need 24-36″ of air space in order to run efficiently.


Almost always overlooked when talking about electrical usage is water usage. Heating water is taking a toll on your monthly electric bills if you have an older water heater, uninsulated hot water supply pipes, and water inefficient fixtures. Turn the tide on this impact by installing a heat pump hot water heater, insulating pipes, and changing out fixtures to WaterSense labeled options.

water senseWaterSense_Faucet

Green Sales Tax Holiday!


Virginia’s upcoming sales tax holiday for Energy Star and WaterSense products gives citizens an opportunity to save money now and for years to come. Not only can you avoid the state sales tax during the four-day event by buying qualifying energy-saving products, you will save money for years to come by lowering your home energy bills. You can also feel good about doing something positive for the environment.

During Virginia’s sixth Energy Star and WaterSense products sales tax holiday, which begins Friday, Oct. 5, and continues through Monday, Oct. 8, consumers can purchase a variety of “green” products qualified for their energy savings by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and not pay the 5 percent state and local sales tax.

The products must cost $2,500 or less each and be purchased for noncommercial or personal use. The Energy Star products include many larger items, including air conditioners, refrigerators, dishwashers, ceiling fans, and washing machines, as well as compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). WaterSense-labeled bathroom sink faucets, faucet accessories, toilets, showerheads, urinals and landscape irrigation controllers will also be tax-exempt. The sales tax exemption also applies to purchases of used Energy Star and WaterSense items that qualify.

“Purchasing energy-efficient appliances and other products is a smart move and this sales tax holiday adds an extra savings incentive,” said Governor Bob McDonnell. “Saving money while you conserve energy makes perfect sense for your own budget and for our environment. Something everyone should consider doing is replacing their standard light bulbs with electricity-saving CFLs.”

The Department of Taxation posted guidelines, frequently asked questions, and a list of approved Energy Star and WaterSense items on its website at

Online purchases of qualifying Energy Star and WaterSense products will also be exempt from the sales tax as long as the orders are placed during the Oct. 5-8 exemption period and the sellers have the items available for immediate shipment.

In addition to exempting certain Energy Star and WaterSense products from the sales tax during the four-day tax holiday, retailers may also choose to “absorb,” or pay themselves, the sales tax on any nonexempt merchandise they sell. Retailers who voluntarily absorb the sales tax must pay the tax themselves to the Tax Department.