Moen has committed to two objectives: quality design and preserving the planet. As the time of year approaches where there is excess in many areas — shopping and eating, just to name a couple — the company hopes to spread more than just cheer.
The 76-year-old kitchen and bathroom fixtures manufacturer recently reached out to PHC News to share ways people can go green as they plump the turkey in November and build snowmen in December.
Following is Mike Reffner’s, senior manager of Wholesale Bath at Moen, update on the company’s green initiative and related offerings, and how both the trade and consumer markets can utilize what Moen has to offer this winter.
PHC: What feedback have you heard from consumers?
MR: On a personal note, any time that I tell someone that I work with Moen they kind of light up as they tell some kind of story about their experience. The story is typically about being happy with the product quality, value and reliability. And in any case where there have been issues, they have always been amazed and surprised at the service level and how we stand behind our brand. They talk about how they once called us up and our representatives were able to identify the cause of their problem and get them up and running again. I’ve experience it time and time again.
With any product that Moen develops, there’s an element that goes into it that we call “thoughtful design.” Thoughtful design means developing new products or modifying existing products in a way that makes a product function easier or better for the end user. How we do that is we look at hierarchy of needs and try to identify where there may be gaps.
One example is when we looked at our hands-free MotionSense kitchen faucets. We did a lot of research with consumers, going into their homes, and a lot of studies with moderators and researchers. We filmed them while they used our fixtures in preparing meals, cleaning up, etc., and we began to identify why they did certain things and how they worked around issues. What we found was a lot of people were trying to turn on faucets using their wrists or elbows. People were preparing food getting their hands dirty and then touching the faucet to clean their hands, which got the faucet dirty and in turn caused them to have to clean the faucet. The cycle just repeated itself. What was decided by Moen is people wanted faucets they could turn on and off without touching. That was the impetus of MotionSense, which has multiple ways you can activate it. You can wave your hand over it (the wave sensor), put your hands or an object underneath (the ready sensor), or use the handle to manually turn it on or adjust the water temperature and flow. We thoughtfully developed a product to meet the need in the marketplace.
PHC: What feedback have you heard from installers?
MR: When we were developing MotionSense, one of the things that we took into consideration was ease of installation. For plumbers, we didn’t want to complicate or extend the installation process. So, we integrated a push-fit connection feature that allows them to easily snap hoses into the digital control box. Basically, you simply push the connection together. And, all of the connections on the box are labeled properly, as are the hoses. Then, any of the plugins, like the data or power cable, are shaped uniquely so you don’t mix them up. We actually went out and worked with installers on prototypes of the product so if they had any questions or there were instances of confusion we could note it and make the changes.
PHC: What feedback have you heard from designers and engineers?
MR: Designers and architects are concerned with the aesthetics of the product. What they want is a wide array of products they can choose from in different styles, finishes and platforms. So, we strive to provide that. Whether your project requires traditional- or modern-styled faucets, we have it in our portfolio. Everything from a single-handle faucet to a widespread faucet or wall-mounted faucet. Designers want something unique to give people a different perspective when they’re looking at properties.
Also, for engineers, the service aspect of Moen is important. Our sales force is well seasoned, with an average tenure of 15 to 17 years. We have folks that are extremely knowledgeable about our products and how they work.
PHC: What message does Moen have for consumers, contractors and engineers this holiday season?
MR: During the holidays, people have more gatherings, and as a result, water usage is affected. Commercial water usage is typically different from residential usage. For example, in commercial you think about people filling up large pots of water or using huge amounts of water for commercial clean up in dishwashing applications. And in residential, you think about the bathroom that guests use in a house, or the kitchen where people are cooking.
From the residential standpoint, Moen has seen a lot of room to not only save water but also refresh and revitalize kitchens and bathrooms in preparation for the holidays. Moen has developed products, during the past six to seven years that have made enormous strides in terms of water saving in those areas of the home. Our Eco-Performance offerings include lavatory faucets, kitchen faucets and shower heads.
With Eco-Performance, we’ve reduced the flow of water while ensuring that performance has been maintained. Going back to thoughtful design, we don’t want people using our products if they don’t work well. Moen partners with Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI), as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense program, and we work very closely with both organizations to determine the specifications for Eco-Performance products that will ensure they save water and maintain efficiency. As a result of some of the requirements, Moen voluntarily transitioned all of our faucets over to lower flow water specifications.
The federal allowable flow rate for faucets is 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) and all of Moen’s flow at 1.5 gpm. On the shower side, federal maximum flow rate is 2.5 gpm, and Moen offers those models in our portfolio, but we also offer showerheads at 2.0 gpm that is a 20 percent reduction in water usage; and, we have selections at 1.75 gpm that is a 30 percent water reduction. We feel that the variety gives consumers the option to save water without sacrificing performance.
Reducing water flow can affect how valves deal with pressure changes. So, Moen has also done a lot of work on our pressure balancing to make sure that our in-wall shower valves work with showerheads down to flow rates as low as 1.5 gpm. This way, we meet the intent of the building codes to control the pressure spikes and changes to water temperatures.
With the coming holidays, I think it’s a great idea for consumers to think about remodeling with easier renovations, such as replacing a faucet or showerhead. You can reap the benefits of water savings and get the benefits of an updated style of fixture.