How to Practice Water Efficiency and Conservation with Your Toilet

August 24, 2011 View all articles in Home

Sixty-five percent of indoor water use happens in the bathroom alone, but the toilet is by far the home's largest water user. The old one in your home could be flushing as much as 7 gallons of water down the drain with every flick of the handle. The toilet is, therefore, a smart place to start practicing efficiency and conservation of our planet's precious resource.

WAYS TO SAVE WATER WITH YOUR TOILET

  • Check the back of your toilet bowl, in front of the tank: there should be a label there telling you how many gallons per flush it uses. If your house was built after 1992, it should have a low-flow unit built in.
  • Some low-flow toilet models bare the EPA's WaterSense label and use less than 1.6 gallons of water per flush and can save at least 14,000 gallons a year.
  • Low-flow toilets can be purchased from your neighborhood hardware store for a couple hundred bucks. Your municipality might even have a rebate program in place.
  • Dual-flush toilets, which have long been common in Europe, are now being introduced to the American market. With them, one method of flushing creates the standard 1.6-gallon flow, while another, which is reserved for liquid waste, allows half that amount, 0.8 gallons of water, to flow through. Brand new dual-flush models can be purchased for around $300.
  • You can purchase a product like SelectAFlush for $39.95 and convert your current toilet to a dual-flush.
  • Pressure-assisted toilets use water pressure to compensate for the smaller amount of water going through. Flush water surges through the bowl, 1.6 gallons or 1 gallon at a time. These models can be purchased for upwards of $320.
  • The simplest way to economize on water with an older, high-volume toilet is to place heavy objects – such as a weighted plastic bottle – inside the toilet tank to reduce its capacity. Don't be tempted to place a brick inside the tank, however, as they tend to break down and screw up the plumbing.
  • A slightly higher-tech solution is to purchase a toilet water dam that attaches inside the bowl and reduces the space to be filled up with water after a flush. You can find one at your local hardware store or online at ConservAStore.com.
  • You can also purchase a water displacement bladder bag for your toilet. With the FlushLess water-saving bag, you simply fill it with water, hang it in the toilet tank, and start saving up to 2 ½ quarts with every flush. You can find one at Amazon.com for around $4.
  • Consider the composting toilet, a highly engineered technology that uses microbes and sometimes heat or electricity to break down human waste into a nutrient-rich material that can eventually be used as safe fertilizer for trees and non-edible plants. Find out more about these revolutionary products at CompostingToilet.org.
  • If your water bills are suspiciously higher than normal, you may have a leaky toilet without knowing it. Find out by putting a small amount of food coloring in the tank, then wait 20 minutes. If you see color in the bowl, you've got a leak. Contact your plumber to have it fixed so you can stop wasting 200 gallons a day!

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