Toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water consumption. Older, inefficient toilets are a major source of wasted water in many homes. Replacing these toilets with WaterSense labeled toilets (products that meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s criteria for water efficient usage) could save nearly 11 gallons per toilet in your home every day! EPA estimates that a family of four that replaces its home’s older toilets with WaterSense labeled models will, on average, save more than $90 per year in reduced water utility bills, and $2,000 over the lifetime of the toilets.
The main thing to consider from both a cost-effective and eco-friendly point of view is the actual amount of water flow. Toilets preceding 1993 use between 3.5 gallons per flush (gpf) up to 8 gpf. Since 1993 high-efficiency modes have been mandated to use 1.6 gpf. Low flow toilets generally have a 1-1.5 gallons gpf. Dual flush toilets utilize two buttons (one flush for liquid waste, another for solid waste) and are widely used in Australia where droughts bring serious concerns about water usage. However, this innovative alternative is making an appearance in the United States. WaterSense labeled toilets are available at a wide variety of price points and a broad range of styles. In many areas, utilities offer rebates and vouchers that can lower the price of a WaterSense labeled toilet.
You can choose between one- (combined) and two-piece (seat and tank) toilets. One piece toilets eliminate the seam between the tank and seat and are sleeker in appearance. The most popular among these are the models that feature a low-profile design. Two piece toilets are easier to install and more economical. Both operate on a gravity system, whereby the volume of water in the tank flushes waste and require a water pressure of 15 pounds per square inch to operate properly. The vacuum-assisted flush is another type, which creates a vacuum that draws the water with more force into the bowl using the rim holes in the upper toilet bowl. Pressure assist flush technology offers twice the power of gravity type toilets while being just as quiet.
There are some variations available among toilet products. Wall-mounted toilets provide a clean floor beneath them, but require back outlets. These would not be good candidates for remodeled bathrooms if the toilets are replacing floor-mounted models.
Different bowl heights can be found. While standard bowl height is 15”, some products feature “Comfort Height” or “Chair Height” which will be 16.5” or 17”, a difference you may find significant.
Limited color choices are available, and some decorative styles among the tanks can be found. There are a few variations in the placement of the flush handles. Most tanks feature front left mounted handles; others are on the right, some on the side (especially the low profile); the dual flush feature buttons on the top. You can choose between rounded or elongated seats, again a feature that can contribute significantly to one’s comfort.
When you are making your plans to remodel your bathroom, take time to research the possibilities. Talk about them with your contractor, who may have constructive advice about your choices. Your selection can save you money, use less water, and be more comfortable!