The adage 'every drop counts' rules the design of today's faucets
A combination of technology and material innocation help faucets mitigate the issue of water shortage
Even as the world’s population is expanding by the day, the supply of water on earth is finite and the need to conserve it is immediate. Using water efficiently, reducing pollutants and conserving the precious natural resource is the only way to ensure future supply. With the right technology and by using the right hardware in our homes, offices and public spaces, billions of gallons of water can be saved every year.
In this initiative to conserve water, bringing technology and innovation to faucets holds phenomenal potential. By its very nature, a faucet lends itself easily to being a green product – a definition which Rahul Kher, founder & director, Zalur Lifestyle, refines further succinctly: “I would term a faucet completely environment-friendly when it’s made with the best quality; it has no lead in it or very small percentage of lead, and it clearly quantifies the saving of both, water and power, on a daily basis – which eventually results in high measurable savings on a yearly basis.” Further, it is important to take a holistic approach here and consider the complete lifecycle of the faucet, right from the stage it’s conceived at the drawing board by the product designers till the time it actually serves its five- or 10-year warranty period.
Improving on aerators, shower heads and materials that can be cleaned with minimum amount, results in appreciable amount of water saving: smart aerators can save up to 500 gallons per year; installation of water-efficient showerheads and/or faucets can save 500-800 gallons per month, and fixing leaky faucets or plumbing joints alone can save 20 gallons per day for every leak stopped.
Maurizio Meloda, technical and operations director, Graff, explains, “Our Solar collection aerator, for example, can reduce the flow of water from 11 to 7 litres per minute, which is a considerable saving. Graff is also compliant with the LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) green building rating system. This third party certification program is a benchmark for the construction of energy-saving components and buildings.”
Manish Bhatia, president and chief – Bath Products and Furniture Fittings Business, HSIL Limited, highlights Hindware’s vast range of star-rated faucets which consume less water, such as the Element basin mixer which saves over 30% water. “We have a special technology in our showers that mixes air with water so as to reduce water consumption significantly without diluting the superior shower experience,” he reveals.
Most companies are focused towards designing products that look smart and save water. The whole idea is to target every water outlet that uses and dispenses water – which includes faucets, showers, health faucets, concealed cisterns, WCs, kitchen faucets and washing machines – to reduce consumption without any compromise on the user experience.
Sensory technology in bathrooms and kitchens is the latest trend. Innovative products like sensory taps, automatic flushing WCs and hand gesture flush systems are gaining traction as they are water- and energy-efficient. Hindware’s Bhatia states, “HSIL recently launched F-iTouch Kitchen Mixer, designed by Queo, which comes equipped with patented technique that allows one to turn on or stop the water supply by simply touching the mixer. A soft contact with the back of the hand, the forearm, the elbow or any other part is effortless as well as functional.”
A similar touch-driven operation hallmarks Graff’s Aqua-Sense shower system. Meloda says, “Some shower systems, like Graff’s Aqua-Sense, controlled by a touch-panel, offer a choice of several rain flows and the possibility of a light water-saving shower rain. Furthermore, with Aqua-Sense, the water shuts down automatically after 10 minutes if left on by mistake.”
Showers are the ones that consume maximum water in bathrooms. Kher states, “Technological advancement in showers has led to saving of water. Shower heads from Nikles use just 6 litres – but give the user the feel of 12 lt/min by smartly using Eco Air, Booster and Drop-Less technologies. The Keuco IXMO shower system takes water saving to a new level by managing three water outlets within a maximum (flow of) 25 lt/min, which means the minimum water outlet like a hand shower can be 6 lt/min and the rain shower or the waterfall can go up to 15-25 lt/min. With kitchen faucets, one can go for two jets or extendable faucets, so that one can use water smartly to clean up vegetables, fruits, etc.”
High visual appeal and efficiency are undoubtedly important, but new products do not ignore their material make-up, and are now using those that are easy to clean – like Graff’s Sleek-Stone, a composite material that combines dolomitic stone with a unique resin, which the company introduced earlier this year as a full program of new bathtubs and washbasins. Meloda explains, “New material definitely adds efficiency to all the bathroom fixtures. Our Sleek-Stone’s durable properties make its surfaces easy to clean while requiring minimal maintenance.”
Another trend in bathrooms is usage of different finishes like Gold, Rose Gold, Brushed Nickel, Matt White and Matt Black. These warm colours give the bathrooms a modern yet personal look and feel. Bhatia informs, “At the recently concluded Acetech, we showcased the new Hindware Element Deco Finish bathroom range which uses patented technology to have a special printing on top of the chrome surface to give a truly premium effect.”
The trend for water-saving products and energy-efficient bath fixtures is definitely gaining popularity, even as consumers are becoming increasingly environment-conscious. When it comes to making the right choice, faucets need to be chosen primarily in accordance with the shape of the basin and the whole bathroom design. “A very tall faucet is not usually suited to a short basin, for example. Apart from the design criteria, the dimension of faucets doesn’t generally affect its functions,” explains Meloda.
One sure-shot way to have a sustainable, efficient bath space is to have a holistic design of the bath space, so that there is clear saving per bathroom – which is measurable and quantifiable. “We at Zalur Lifestyles also make an energy-saving vision strategy on the project, so that we can quantify the amount of water or power saving over 12 months and also over a period of years,” says Kher.
WCs which are technologically enabled and in-built with superior functionalities are preferred by consumers now. “At HSIL, we have been offering products which consume less water, such as Hindware Nano WC which flushes with just 1.5 litres of water, for years now. Just last year, we introduced Hindware Rimless, which offers the guarantee of being 100% bacteria-free,” adds Bhatia.
But technology, innovation and design can only take water saving so far. In the end, a lot of it – quite literally – rests in our hands. As Kher effectively sums up, “It is not always just about the products and their inherent eco impact. Our lifestyles and behaviour can also directly magnify the impact through the choices we make. We need to be more aware about limiting water usage and our habits – like keeping taps on unnecessarily, using more water for showering or washing in the kitchen.”