Most major manufacturers consider faucet style the way Louis Vuitton does shoeshaute never rests. In fact, many manufacturers hire well-known designers to craft their most eye-catching models. Kallista, for example, offers fixtures from well-known kitchen designers Mick De Giulio and Barbara Barry. A sleek, Lamborghini-esque sink faucet from Kallista's Jeton collection by Bill Sofield lists for $1,843 in brushed nickel.
Not surprisingly, much of the design focus is on the spout, and recent introductions include spouts that deliver water through narrow tubes, down open chutes and through roller-coaster curves. Articulating-arm faucets have migrated from the kitchen into the bathroom, presumably so you don't have to move your toothbrush to the stream.
How low can you go? In an effort to create a basic water conservation standard, the Federal Energy Management Act of 1992 requires that new faucet fixtures made in the United States have a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm).
The savings over pre-1992 faucets is substantialalmost 8,000 gallons of water per year for converting all the faucets in an average house. Add to that the savings you'll get from reduced hot water heating, and retrofitting your pre-1992 faucet with a newer model is an easy decision.
And your flow rate can go even lower. In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put into service a program entitled WaterSense. The program uses third-party testing to determine if faucets and showerheads meet criteria for high-efficiency water flow of about 1.5 gpm or less. Most manufacturers have extensive product lines that conform to WaterSense criteria.
The technology used to achieve these exceptionally frugal flows either is built into the faucet body or applied to the aerator, the little screw-on tip that fits on the end of your faucet. To date, most manufacturers have focused on the aerator to avoid wholesale retooling of product lines. Smartly engineered low-flow aerators will automatically adjust for pressure fluctuations, successfully restricting water while maintaining a full, powerful flow.
In many instances, you can replace your regular aerator with a WaterSense-approved aerator. If you do, the EPA estimates you'll save about 500 gallons of water per year for every faucet you retrofit.
A faucet aerator is a small screen on the end of a faucet that introduces air into the water stream. The purpose is to soften the stream, making it splash less. Restricted-flow aerators help reduce water usage, although certain tasks such as filling the sink, simply take longer. Replace your aerator every 2 years to keep your faucet flowing freely. You'll spend $2 to $22 for a new aerator.
Take your old aerator to your home improvement or hardware store to ensure a proper fit. Environmental Protection Agency-approved aerators will carry the WaterSense label and have the flow rate etched into the side of the device. Some aerators have flow rates as low as .5 gpm, though some homeowners may want a faster water flow.
Sanitizing. Do your kids like to play in puddles and dig for worms? Maybe you do? If so, you might be interested in an ozone-activated antibacterial bath faucet. The Cashido O3On Sanitizer injects a stream of ozone into the faucet water stream, killing germs. The company claims the ozone kills up to 99 percent of all bacteria while remaining perfectly safe for washing and drinking. They come with the technology built into the faucet or as retrofit kits that attach to the aerator. List price: $300.
Motion-activated. A not-too-long-ago novelty, the hands-free faucet is gaining wider acceptance. Newer models, such as the Muirsis Pinnacle in satin nickel ($2,000) include motion-activated on/off, flow control and temperature adjustment with multiple pre-sets. Although some motion-activated faucets operate in a less intuitive manner than conventional faucetsfor example, turning up the temperature may require steadily holding your finger in front of a sensorthe novelty is enough to encourage some folks to add them to their bathroom repertoire. These faucets require battery or AC power.
Self-powered motion activated. A refinement on motion activation, which requires battery or AC power, is a faucet that generates its own electricity. Using a tiny turbine that's powered by water flow, faucets from Autotap create and store electricity used to power the infrared sensors that detect motion. The Autotaps AMA-5201 single-hole sink faucet sells for about $350 in chrome finish.
Laminar flow. If you like your water soft and silkyand really, who doesn't?check into laminar flows faucet technology. Standard aerators add air to the water stream to make the flow feel lighterthe bubbles make the water stream appear frothy white. But laminar flows are created from dozens of tiny, parallel sheets of water. The water flows in a clear, solid-looking stream that won't splash when you're washing your hands. Laminar faucets, such as Moen's Fina ($560), can be WaterSense approved.
Consider factors like bathroom size and features when shopping for a bathtub for your bath remodel.
Learn about the rainbow of styles and finishes so you pick a sink that's right for you
Bathrooms by Professionals(at Pro Galleries)
Bathrooms by People Like You (at Rate My Remodel)