Water conservation in the home is a normal part of many people’s lives nowadays, but before 1992 (when a mandate requiring low-flow toilets in new homes and remodeling projects went nationwide), household appliances—especially toilets—used quite a bit more water than they do today.
Although the first toilets adapted for water conservation were often less than effective, today’s models and designs are superb. Below we discuss the best water-saving toilet options. Find out how they can benefit your home, your wallet, and the world.
If you’re interested in learning more about environmentally friendly toilet brands and models, reach C&W Plumbing at 972-395-2597. We can help you make the switch!
The Early Days
Prior to 1992 and the National Energy Policy Act, toilets used over 7 gallons of water per flush! When toilet manufacturers had to change to meet the new law, the design of toilets stayed the same while the amount of water they used was reduced. This created problems for homeowners, as the waste often barely went away or stayed right where it was.
As people complained about the inefficiency of these “new” toilets and held onto their old ones (even going so far as to purchase used ones at yard sales!), the manufacturers listened. They changed their designs, and soon inefficient low-flush toilets were left behind.
Even now, improvements and changes are constantly being made to ensure toilets are efficient as possible and still do their job!
Why Make the Switch to Low-Flow or Dual-Flush?
To give you a sense of the dramatic impact low-flow and dual-flush toilets can make, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency actively encourages consumers to replace their older toilet models with more advanced options. While older toilets use as many as 7 gallons of water every time you flush, low-flow toilets use a maximum of 1.6 gallons, with most only requiring 1.28 gallons. Over the course of a year, a family of four can save nearly 13,000 gallons of water by making a switch.
The EPA has a program called WaterSense that passes certification to toilets that meet the low-flush requirements. If everyone made the switch, over 500 billion gallons of water would be saved every year. Your home’s toilets are about 30% of your indoor water use; changing the type your family uses can really make a difference.
If saving the planet isn’t enough to convince you, think of the money you’ll save each month by changing your older toilet out for a low-flush option! By reducing the amount of water you use, you also drastically reduce the cost of your water bill. While the low-flow option is the most economical, using a consistent 1.6 gallons, the dual-flush option will also save you a lot if you regularly make use of the right settings for the type of waste.
The initial investment in upgrading to a low-flow or dual-flush toilet may be higher than the average toilet, but the continued savings more than pays for itself. It’s estimated that making the switch could save you over $110 every year you use the toilet, adding up to about $2,200 during the course of your toilet’s life.
Toilet Option 1: Single-Flush, AKA Low-Flow
Most toilets found in the United States are single-flush toilets, often just called low-flow. They offer only one basic flush setting, hence the name “single-flush.” The good news is, they use significantly less water than a majority of other toilets available on the market. Compared to the previous 7 gallons of water per flush, many low-flow toilets now use around 1.3 gallons, thanks to advancing technology and designs. To be considered low-flow, a toilet must meet a federal requirement of 1.6 gallons or less.
Choose from Two Types
- Gravity-fed toilets, AKA gravity-flush
These are the most common toilets found in homes. Less expensive, they rely heavily on the power of gravity and a larger opening to do the work. They are also easier to maintain, thanks to their standard parts.
- Pressure-assisted toilets
These are more powerful than gravity-fed toilets and have an easier time handling solid waste. Using compressed air to make everything flush smoothly, you’ll know a pressure-assisted toilet by its “whoosh” sound. Pressure-assisted toilets are generally found in businesses.
Toilet Option 2: Dual-Flush
Unlike low-flow toilets, dual-flush toilets offer (as the name suggests) two flush settings, selected depending on the type of waste to be removed. The low-flush setting is appropriate for liquids, while the second setting uses a larger amount of water for solid wastes. Dual-flush toilets are available in the United States, but they are more commonly used in:
- New Zealand
In these countries, they are considered the standard.
A dual-flush toilet allows you to save water and conveniently provides added force when necessary. Due to the technology, it does tend to be more expensive than the single-flush option. As with the gravity-fed single-flush toilet, the dual-flush relies heavily on the help of gravity.
Although the toilet may seem like a small part of your bathroom and an even smaller part of your home, making the switch to a low-flush toilet, whether single- or dual-, can truly make the difference to the environment and your budget. What would you do with an extra $100 every year?
If you’re considering updating your toilet or remodeling your bathroom to be more environmentally (and wallet-) friendly, give us a call at 972-395-2597. We know the right brands and models to fit your family’s and bathroom’s needs.