What you should know about toilets

Toilets account for almost 30% of residential indoor water use in the United States.

Toilets are also a major source of wasted water due to leaks and inefficiency. In a home that was built prior to 1993 it is most likely that the toilet uses 3.5 gallons or more for every single flush (in Dekalb County alone, approx. 165,000 homes were built prior to 1993 – there are approx. 1 Mio. Homes in the Greater Atlanta area that still have old, inefficient toilets in use). Experts say that the minimum needed to meet the basic human needs of drinking, cooking and hygiene is five gallons of clean water per person per day. It’s far from enough to ensure health and well-being-just enough to get by. Do we really need to flush down that much each time we go “Number One”?

In the beginning of modern toilets there was the seven-gallon flushing porcelain lavatory. Then there was the low-flush toilet. And by the time you’d flushed several times the bowl was “clear” and you had flushed more water than you did with the faithful lavatory.

Then there was the new and improved low-flush toilet, which was better but still not what always got the job done. And finally, the High-Efficiency toilet arrived; you now have your choice of flushing as little as .8 gallons with dual flush toilets. The best part is that they really work!

What Are High-Efficiency Toilets?

Under federal law, toilets must not exceed 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf). High-efficiency toilets (HETs) go beyond the standard and use less than 1.3 gpf. The WaterSense label will be used on HETs that are certified by independent laboratory testing to meet rigorous criteria for both performance and efficiency. Only HETs that complete the third-party certification process can earn the WaterSense label.

 Do High Efficiency Toilets Work?

Everyone is concerned about the performance of low-flow toilets. Do they clear the bowl and leave it clean? Do they stop up frequently? Unlike the first 1.6 gallon / flush toilets, WaterSense HETs combine high efficiency with high performance. Advances in toilet design permit WaterSense HETs to save water without loss of flushing power. In fact, many perform better than standard toilets in consumer testing. Want proof? Watch this amazing video of Eddie Wilcut, the Water Conservation Manager for the City of San Antonio, flushing a Russet potato down a Caroma toilet with the full flush (1.6 gallon) AND half flush (0.8 gallon), which is meant for liquid waste.

How Much Water and Money Do HETs Save?

High efficiency toilets save you money by reducing your water and wastewater costs. Over the course of a lifetime, an average person flushes the toilet nearly 140,000 times. If you install a WaterSense HET, you can save 4,000 gallons per year and your children can each save about a third of a million gallons during their lifetime. If a family of four replaces one 3.5 gpf toilet made between 1980 and 1994 with a WaterSense toilet, they can save $2,000 over the lifetime of the toilet. If the toilet being replaced was made before 1980, it uses 5 gallons per flush so the savings will be much greater. If you’d like to calculate how much water you can save try the water savings calculator on www.ecotransitions.com.

With these savings, new high-efficiency toilets can pay for themselves in only a few years. Even better, many local utilities offer substantial rebates for replacing old toilets with HETs. Detailed information on the rebates available in Georgia can be found here Rebates in Georgia

What are Dual Flush toilets?

Dual flush toilets offer a patented dual flush technology consisting of a 0.8 Gal flush for liquid waste and a 1.6 Gal flush for solids. They can save up to 40% (approx. 4600 gallons) compared to today’s standard 1.6-gallon single flush toilets. On an average of 4/1 uses a day,  Dual Flush toilets have the lowest water consumption of all – 0.96 Gallons per flush. Caroma, an Australian manufacturer that invented the Dual Flush technology manufactures award winning toilets that are both user friendly and, with a full 3.5″ trap way, virtually blockage-free!  Wouldn’t that be nice to be able to finally kiss the plunger good bye? Beware of some products reducing the amount of water flushed to use with your existing toilet. Existing bowls are not designed to perform with reduced amounts of water, so the likelihood of clogging your toilet while you are trying to flush paper and solid waste increases drastically.

Select a WaterSense Labeled High-Efficiency Toilet!look for watersense label

Whether you are remodeling a bathroom, beginning construction of a new house, or just want to replace an old, leaky toilet, a WaterSense labeled HET is your best bet. Look for the WaterSense label on any toilet you buy. If every home in the United States replaced just one old toilet with a new HET, we would save almost one trillion (spelled with a T)

gallons of water per year, equal to more than two weeks of the water flowing over Niagara Falls!

Note that some manufacturers offer high-efficiency and ordinary models with very similar names, so be sure and look for the WaterSense label. A list of WaterSense labeled High-Efficiency Toilets can be found here List of WaterSense labeled HET’s published by the EPA.

Where can I find a HET?

To find WaterSense partners and resources in your area, please follow the link and click on your state below or choose from the list that follows. EPA – Where you live

For a watersavings calculator and more information on Dual Flush toilets please visit www.ecotransitions.com.

WaterSense Partners helped save 277 million gallons of water in 2007

25 Responses

  1. Great info! You can also use graywater to flush rather than using fresh water. If you can handle yellow water live by the motto – If it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow let it mellow.

  2. As I wrote on my blog, it’s so great to know there’s a green alternative for conventional toilets!

    Again, during my time studying in Japan, I noticed there were a lot of high-tech bidet toilets which featured two water stream options, heated seats, and a noise option, usually in addition to the standard sound generator already in place on the wall (these produced rushing water sounds to mask the sound of the person using the toilet). Their toilets also seemed to flush for an eternity. I always pondered how much energy and water was being used just on a toilet (and what a contrast it was from the traditional Japanese “squatter” toilet, a terrible experience for any Westerner).

    It’s so nice to see a company like this moving in the opposite direction, opting for less water usage!

  3. […] and also qualify for several toilet rebate programs available in the US. Please visit Pottygirl’s blog  to learn more or go to Caroma USA to learn where you can find Caroma toilets locally. […]

  4. Very useful information! There are so many simple ways consumers can save water, so it is nice to see the info readily available! If everyone did just a little bit, just image the water savings!

    At Cyber-Rain, we’re always trying to find new ways to help consumers save water, especially in their gardens, so it’s nice to see someone covering the inside of the home, too! Are you checking out high efficiency toilet rebates available through water districts, MWD etc? There are a ton of rebates available, both for those toilets and for weather-based irrigation controllers that can also save thousands of gallons of water every year, like Cyber-Rain.

    Are you getting lots of positive feedback? This is a great step in the right water-saving direction!

  5. Regarding the “green” movement, it all starts with awareness and I applaude you for your efforts with this excellent article. I knew nothing about high-efficiency toilets until my first trip to IKEA where they seem to be taking their corporate responsibility very seriously. Of course, homeowners have so many opportunities as well to make a difference…in the bathroom…in the kitchen…throughout their home, but it is their lack of awareness that prevents them from taking action! Thanks for helping us get past this stumbling block.

  6. […] and qualify for the rebate.  Please read my blog entry https://pottygirl.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/what-you-should-know-about-toilets/  to learn more or go to http://www.caromausa.com to learn where you can find Caroma toilets […]

  7. This is actually quite useful information. Thanks!

  8. Potty girl, you posted a link to this in response to my Stretch Your Dollar column. Are you in the Morongo Basin? If you are, can you contact me at 760-367-3577 or via my email; I’m working on a project that I’d like to talk to you about.


  9. Hi Andrea! Thanks for the comment on our toilet rebate article on HomeFixated:

    I think dual flush toilets are a great option. . . . hopefully they’ll continue to grow in popularity. Stay in touch!


  10. This is such a great and detailed article. All of the toilets in our home are out of date and we will definitely be upgrading them soon.
    I write a green blog and we posted an article on a DIY low volume flush toilet but the Caroma dual flush looks like such an elegant solution.

    Thanks for the great information 🙂

  11. Hello. We are putting together a list of wiser water usage tips on our website ConnectTheDrops.org. We agree with what you’ve posted about water usage and would like to include some of your tips on our site with a link to your blog. Credit to the Potty Girl of course! Thank you for your great work, Suzanne Dameron, Co-Chair, SEE Water committee for wiser water usage in Sarasota County

    • Suzanne,

      Please do so, thank you very much! I have another tip I didn’t see on your site: Put a big plastic bowl in your kitchen sink, fill it with hot water and pre-rinse the dishes in there. Also for doing all the dishes. That’s how I grew up!


  12. Great idea!
    I’ve seen too another product who save 65% water + energy for shower.For more info ,Please visit this page:
    Estimated water and energy saved with Ecoshower Irisana
    Four people house: Cost of water+ energy = 0,0050 €/Litre
    Time for having a shower: 5 minutes
    Consumption of a conventional shower: 20 litres/minute x 5 minutes = 100 litres
    Consumption of Ecoshower Irisana: 7 litres/minute x 5 minutes = 35 litres
    Water saved per shower: 65 litres
    Water saved daily: 4 shower x 65 litres/shower = 260 litres/day
    Water saved per year: 260 litres/day x 365 days = 94.900 litres/year
    Euros saved per year: 94.900 litres x 0,0050 €/litre = 474,50 €/year

  13. Excellent information on water conservation! Thanks for hosting this.

  14. I saw a show where they used this mantra for water conservation and toilets. “If it’s brown, make it go down; if it’s yellow, keep it mellow”. My kids got a big kick out of that saying and now do not flush after they go #1. I still need to remind myself not to yell at them for keeping it “mellow”.

    Just came across your site. It’s perfect!

  15. Thanks for posting this, I found it very informative. 🙂

  16. I’m virtually sold, but…

    My situation’s a bit different, and the same. My own artesian well, here in New England, supplies me with as much as 200 gallons of water a minute. I realize I’m lucky with respect to this and I don’t waste it. The septic system is the sensitive element. With limited area and bedrock creating a high water table much of the year, I must be very careful of how much I put into it.
    …but, I’ve read that Caroma toilet “water spots” are small, leaving dry china that’s susceptible to “skid marks” that require lots of extra unpleasant work with the bowl brush.
    Can you disabuse me of this idea? I truly hope you can. Thanks


    • Hello Jeff,

      it is correct – the water level in Caroma toilets is lower than in standard US syphonic toilets and the water spot is smaller. You may have to use a brush on occasion, but you will never have to use a plunger. We have had one customer complaint with this issue out of several hundreds.

      Best regards,

      Andrea Paulinelli

      • Thanks Andrea.
        I’m ready. Trouble is, the local Boston Manufacturer’s rep dropped the product! ??
        Doesn’t make sense, but they’re hard to get here now.
        So, I was wondering if you could clue me as to the pros & cons of buying online from plumbingmall.com or theenergyconscious.com
        Somewhere else?


      • Jeff,

        If you want to order from an online supplier, I definitely recommend checking their warranty and return policy. I will be more than happy to provide a quote including shipping to you as well, if you could send an email to sales@ecotransitions.com. I look forward to hearing from you!


  17. We have a dual flush toilet on my stepfather’s house, it is recommended because it can really save a lot of water.

  18. Our country has a real fresh water problem, in many areas the water shortage is critical. I would like to share this that will surely help in water conservation as well as our unemployed veterans:


    They will hire vets to install low flush toilets. A Vet can have a well paying job and 9000 gallons of water per year will be saved! They can hire wounded worriors too.


  19. This is really great advice! All of our 3 toilets in our home had leaks or water efficiency issues. We replaced all 3 with more efficient toilets and have seen significant improvement on our monthly water bill!

  20. We explore this topic and more at our blog, where we deal with using greywater to cut down on waste. Go Green, Go Grey

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