Toilets are where a lot of waste happens…water waste that is. Toilets account for 30-40% of domestic water use, which means that water saving toilets can drastically reduce household water consumption.
With two thirds of the US either having experienced or preparing for local, regional or state-wide water shortages, saving water is a serious issue. Sadly, most of us in the developed world often take water for granted.
My husband spent a few months in Ghana, Africa where getting water was a major daily chore.
He said when he returned home, he went to his mother’s house and started to run a bath. He literally wept when all he had to do was turn on the faucet to watch clean drinking water fill the gargantuan tub.
I tell you this not to make my husband look like a softie, but to share what a visceral connection we have with water. Yet, North Americans literally flush gallons of drinking water away with our waste.
Toilets that are not water efficient can waste a substantial amount of water, up to 5 quarts per flush. For instance, the valves in your tank are a standard design to work with even the largest bowls. This means that if your toilet bowl is a bit smaller, your toilet is being overfilled with each flush.
It is a waste of a precious resource that not only puts a strain on the environment, but can also be a strain on your utility bills. Not only is there the cost of the water itself if you’re on a metered system, but there’s also the energy costs associated with delivering, treating and heating that water.
So, how do you start saving?
Five tips for reducing water waste with each flush
1. Consider replacing your old toilet for a water saving toilet. Most modern toilets are designed to clear the bowl efficiently with smaller flush volumes. They also usually offer a dual-flush system that allows you to choose the quantity of water needed, depending on the…ahem…contents of the bowl.
Depending on the vintage of your current porcelain throne, you could save as much as 11,000 gallons of water – the equivalent of one backyard swimming pool – and as much as $64/year on your utility bill by switching to a WaterSense labelled toilet. To help in your decision-making, you can calculate your potential water savings on the US EPA website. There are a number of rebates available to help reduce the cost of the renovation.
2. Install a water-saving toilet fill valve. For less than $10, you can install a water-saving toilet fill valve in your existing toilet, which can reduce water use by 36%. It also detects leaks and cleans the tank with every flush. The valve fits all brands and installation doesn’t even require tools!
3. Convert your existing toilet into a dual-flush system. For around $25 you can retrofit your existing toilet into a high efficiency dual flush toilet with a dual-flush conversion kit. Not only does this kit reduce the amount of water going down, but it also gives the water more force to help get the job done.
4. Displace some water in your tank. Older toilets use far more water than necessary to rinse the bowl. So, one way to reduce the water use is to displace some of the water in the tank. This can be done by using something like a toilet tummy , which is essentially a bladder you fill with water and then hang on the inside of the tank to displace water. Or, you can go with the more rustic method of putting a couple of bricks in your tank. This can save up to 2 liters of water with every flush.
5. If it’s yellow let it mellow… I’m sure you’ve heard the saying and it’s by the far the easiest way to save water. Other than pure aesthetics, there is really no need to flush every time. I would have to say, however, that an exception would be after having asparagus for dinner (you know what I mean)!
So, if it’s time for a bathroom renovation, then take a look at water saving toilets and look for the WaterSense label in the US. If you don’t have the cash flow for a full renovation right now, consider some of these cheaper options to reduce the water you flush. It’s a small thing that can make a big difference!
Finally, take a look at this great video that shows what the Punahou School in Hawaii is doing to teach children about water saving toilets: