Greater efficiency! We look for it in our cars, in our appliances and, for a few decades now, in our toilets.
Early toilets were technically simple: something to sit on over a hole in the ground. Eventually—and thankfully—enterprising minds invented the flushable toilet and the sewer systems that took our waste away and let us focus on other, more pleasant things. But, when our beloved planet’s imminent peril became the subject of discussion back in the 1980s, we turned our attention back to this lowly piece of porcelain and began a much needed march toward high efficiency toilets.
Toilets Through Time
Back in the 80s, most toilets used between 3.5 and 5 gallons per flush. That meant fully 30 percent of a household’s water use was connected to flushing! Emerging awareness of the huge amounts of wasted water (no pun intended) inevitably led to improvements in toilet technology. High efficiency toilets became the norm, with most models attaining a new standard of 1.6 gallons per flush. Chances are all (or most) of your home’s toilets conform to that standard.
But don’t assume that the 1.6-gallon marker is the acme of conservation efforts and that your work is now done. Today’s highest efficiency commodes use 1.28 gallons per flush, a further decrease of 20 percent in water consumption.
Save Thousands of Gallons with WaterSense
Over the course of a lifetime the average person flushes the toilet nearly 140,000 times. Replacing an older toilet with a WaterSense labeled toilet, the average person can save nearly 13,000 gallons of water per year. Moreover, WaterSense labeled toilets are certified by independent laboratory testing to meet rigorous criteria for performance and efficiency. If you have not updated your bath fixtures in recent years, you’ll be glad to learn that these new, super-high efficiency fixtures operate very, very well.
Low-Flow, No Compromises
Don’t be afraid: You are not going to have a Seinfeld moment. Remember that episode of Seinfeld, when the building’s owners installed “low-flow” shower heads in Jerry’s and Kramer’s apartments? To put it mildly, those new, environmentally-friendly shower heads had a lackluster performance, earning the complete disdain of both characters. First-generation “low-flow” toilets were similarly—and deservingly—disparaged by consumers, but today’s WaterSense commodes boast a design that achieves “low flow” with NO trade-off in flushing power. Indeed, many WaterSense toilets outperform their original “high flow” counterparts.
Affordable and Sustainable
Outperforming the “high flow” competition must come at a higher price, right? Not necessarily. While the initial investment may be slightly higher than a higher gallon-per-flush model, the cost is quickly offset by the amount of money saved throughout the life of the toilet. Some widely accepted estimates show that a WaterSense toilet will save more than $90 per year in water utility bills and $2,000 over its lifespan. Moreover, some localities (often in drought-stricken areas) offer vouchers and rebates to their customers for installing a new a WaterSense toilet. Visit the EPA’s WaterSense rebate page, (https://www.epa.gov/watersense/rebate-finder) and search for rebates in your area.
The bottom line? If you want to save money—and the planet—now may be the time to consider replacing your 1.6-gallon dinosaur with a WaterSense toilet.