Low flow toilets can save you money and help the environment.
Conservation and Legislation
Starting in 1995, The National Energy Policy Act mandated that all new toilets had to be low flow toilets using no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. This volume is less than half the water used by toilets in the 1980s.
The first low flow toilets were made by adding water-saving modifications to a standard design toilet. These modifications would reduce the overall use of water, but they had a reduced flush force which met with a lot of customer dissatisfaction.
Design changes were made to the toilets, including a larger flapper valve (the hole in the bottom of the water tank), a larger trapway (the hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl) and a glazed trapway to ease the way for waste. These design changes increased the flush force to equal the force of the standard toilet.
The most effective design change has been the addition of pressure-assisted flushing which uses pressurized air in the tank to push the water into the bowl. This results in very effective flushing, but this design is noisier than toilets without the pressure-assist function.
Advantages of Low Flow Toilets
Low flow toilets are a smart addition to your home whether you are into low-impact living or just want to save money. ToolBase Services estimates that a family of four could save up to 22,000 gallons of water per year by using a low flow toilet - which Home & Garden Television Network equates to as much as a $100 annual water savings.
The two key advantages are:
- Water conservation - The newest low flow toilet styles use as little as 1.6 gallons of water per flush as compared to a standard toilet which can use from 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush.
- Cost savings - Water-efficient toilets save money on your household water bill.
Selecting a Toilet Design
All toilets have two basic functions: the intake of water from the toilet tank and the discharge of wastewater.
There are three basic toilet design systems to perform these two functions:
- Gravity-fed tank - This is the most common type of toilet. The design relies on the weight and volume of the water in the tank to flush waste. This style can be relatively inexpensive.
- Two-button flush - This is a gravity-fed tank with two volumes of water -- a half-flush (.8 gallons per flush) for liquid and a full-flush (1.6 gallons per flush) for solids.
- Power-assist or pressure-assisted - This system uses compressed air to force the water to flush the waste. There is no freestanding water in the bowl. The water is held in a pressure tank which is inside the toilet tank. This system gives a powerful flush but it is more expensive and noisier than a gravity-fed system.
Buying a Toilet
A low flow toilet is a great addition to a home plan or a remodeling plan. There are a wide variety of styles and colors available in home supply stores and most hardware stores. The key features to look for are a large flush valve, a powerful flush and easy repair:
- Toto "Drake" - Quiet, high quality construction and easy-to-repair
- Toto "Ultra Max" - High power flush and a fast tank refill
- Gerber "Ultra Flush" - Powerful flush. Available in a 17" high model
- Kohler "Cimarron" - Large flush valve providing a powerful flush. Optional 1.4 gallon setting.
- Jacuzzi "Perfecta" - Rim jets and large water surface for cleaner bowl
- Crane "Economiser" - Power-assist flush and fully-glazed trapway to minimize clogging
- American Standard "Champion" - Good quality toilet with a powerful jet that makes a little noise