PALM COAST, Fla. (June 25, 2023) – Touting the potential for a reduction in utilities costs through the Florida Water Star program, it was an extra special day for Ashley Bruff and her children as they were handed the keys to their new Habitat home in Palm Coast.

Moving from an affordable living community where she was paying close to $2,000 in rent each month, as a new homeowner she’ll be paying less than $1,000 on top of saving on her water bill each month through the Water Star program.

The Bruff home is the first of three certified Habitat for Humanity homes outfitted with water-saving kitchen and bathroom appliances according to Deirdre Irwin, Water Conservation Coordinator for the Bureau of Water Supply Planning, with the St. Johns Water Management District.

“I coordinate a program called Florida Water Star which works with builders to build homes that are more water efficient, inside and out. For years we’ve worked with Habitat and we’ve just relaunched our Habitat program where we make sure they have a free inspection, a free certification and this home is built to a higher standard than typical homes in Florida,” shared Irwin.

Water Star homes are estimated to save 6,000 gallons of water annually, reducing the homeowner’s water bill by up to $530.

“It should use at least 20 percent less water indoors and it has no irrigation, so it doesn’t need to use any water outdoors. We hold Habitat up as a leader in the building community. If Habitat can do this, any builder should be able to do this, and it helps protect our water resources,” she said.

With more than 130 homes under their work belt, Flagler Habitat for Humanity executive director Lindsay Elliot is pleased by the continued advances in the program and still tears up as each homeowner begins the next chapter of their family’s life.

“It is just a spectacular morning and one of my favorite days, the days when we are dedicating homes for our families,” she said.

“Ashley has worked so hard and it has been wonderful to watch her transform over the time. I know for her kids to have watched her make this decision, have a goal, reach that goal, but reach that goal with hard work, sacrifice and dedication, this isn’t an easy, ‘oh I want to buy a house’, this is two years of her life she has dedicated to the rest of her life.”

“She’s been an absolute pleasure to work with and done well over the required hours because she just wants to be here, be a part of it. This is her home. She knows what’s behind every wall. From the college students who built here in the spring and when you’re laying tile and painting, all these memories are conjured up with people or events, moments, it’s a home that’s already wrapped it’s arms around her family.”

“This home is a house to most people, but it is changing the trajectory of her life, and the trajectory of her children’s lives,” said Elliot.  “Her children will grow up knowing the importance of homeownership. Renting may be part of their plan, but it won’t be a part of their forever plan. There won’t be any more jumping from house to house, scrambling for rent.”

For Ashley, becoming a homeowner is not only important for her but for the stability of her children.

“We have moved probably 10 times in the last 12 years just from renting. It’s been crazy, and to know that we don’t have to do that anymore. It’s a stable foundation that my kids can actually make their rooms theirs, now that’s going to happen, it’s amazing,” said Bruff.

“It’s amazing knowing I can be independent and do for my kids,” she said. “I was living in a low income and paying almost $2,000 a month. To me that’s not affordable housing. Savings, future, I know I can put my kids through college, it’s just nice knowing there’s a solid future for us. It’s permanent.”

Find out more about the Florida Water Star program here: and Flagler Habitat for Humanity here:

Tune In: The Florida Water Star Program and protecting Florida’s water resources will be featured on the Lifeline radio show and podcast Saturday, August 19, 2023 at 9 AM on WNZF NewsRadio and