Have you heard the toilet consumes more water than any other appliance in the home? The average person flushes away almost twenty gallons of fresh drinking water everyday. Prior to 1982, toilets used 5-7 gallons per flush (gpf). Through 1990, that number decreased to 3.5 gpf. Around 1994, the 1.6 gpf toilets became standard most of us are familiar with today. Although we have made great strides in toilet water usage, there is still room for improvement. Recently, some new toilets have become available which use even less water. High Efficiency Toilets, or HETs, use 1.28 gpf or less and feature a new design. Long gone are the days of having to flush the 1.6 version multiple times to clear the bowl.
When shopping for a HET toilet, look for the WaterSense seal. WaterSense is a voluntary program that requires all toilets to use 1.28 gallons or less per flush and the flush is performance tested by a third party, to assure the the toilet flushes solid waste adequately. These new toilets usually fall into one of two categories. The first is traditional toilets which use 1.28 gallons of water or less per flush, while the second is the new dual flush model. The dual flush toilet is unique because you can choose to flush liquids (#1) with .8 gallons of water, while solids (#2) are flushed using 1.6 gallons of water. Because the average person flushes liquids three times more often than solids, the 1.6 and .8 gallon flushes average out to 1.28 gallons per flush.
Recently we decided to replace all of the old toilets in our home. We have three toilets in our house. One was manufactured before 1994 and flushed 3.5 gpf. The two other toilets were newer and used only 1.6 gallons per flush, but they were the first generation of low water usage toilets and frequently required multiple flushes. All three toilets were grungy-looking (not dirty, but scarred), and one had leak in the tank that caused it to run frequently.
After looking though various models, we decided to narrow it down to models available locally. We also decided against dual flush toilets because we preferred the traditional flushing mechanism to buttons. After all of our research, we decided on the Kohler Cimarron Comfort Height elongated 1.28 gpf toilet with Class Six™ technology. Some things we liked about this toilet were the traditional style, the height (it is typical chair height), and the fact it is HET. After a day of installation, we are now the proud owners of three new toilets. So far, we are very impressed with our purchase. The toilets flush quickly and flush everything, they use less water, and are very quiet. I was a bit nervous before buying because I had read the the HET toilets were noisy, but I can say this is not true at all. They are much quieter than our old toilets. If I had one complaint, it would be in the look and feel of the flush handle. Although a sturdy metal design, it looked cheap and didn’t fit in with the decor of our new designer toilet. We splurged and added on a new designer handle (yes, they have designer toilet handles in your local hardware store, who knew?).
I am not advocating everyone run out and buy a new toilet right away, but do take a minute to check your current toilet installation. First, see how much water your toilet uses per flush. Most newer toilets will state how many gallons per flush on the toilet or inside the tank. If you have a problem with you toilet, check for easy repairs first like new gaskets and seals. Often toilets can be repaired with a kit from a home improvement store even if you have little DIY experience. Finally, if you are unsure whether you should replace your toilet, consider contacting a reputable plumber for their opinion. Happy flushing!