Are You Flushing Your Money Away?

flush money

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!

6 Replies to “Are You Flushing Your Money Away?”

  1. Funnily enough, we are getting one (and a second one if the first is cheap enough) bathrooms renovated starting at the beginning of October! Our toilets are the 5-7 gallon ones and thanks to this I will definitely check out the better toilets.

    1. Sadly, we are not at a point where we can re-do each bathroom. The toilets are a a great start for us though, since the old ones were driving us crazy. The ones we got were actually priced lower than some nice non-HET toilets, and in the end we’ll save money on our water bill! Best of luck on your renovation.

  2. Consumer Reports called the Kohler Cimarron toilet you bought an “Energy All-Star” (they also suggested contacting your local utility to see if they offer rebates for switching to low-flow toilets – I assume the rebates are offered in areas suffering drought conditions).

    Another startling statistic I found in Consumer Reports this month: the average washing machine sold today uses 64% less energy than washing machines sold just 9 years ago (2000). This might help anyone debating whether to repair their old washing machine or buy a new one (like me!).

    1. It’s good to know our toilets even impressed CR. I checked into rebates from our county (our water provider) and they had no information on rebates on the website at all.

      Now I need to start thinking about a washer post as well!

  3. Have you been to the CBF headquarters? We did a tour of the building there several years ago and it was so interesting, all of the features they have built into it – including composting toilets! They have normal-looking public restrooms there, but the toilets are composting (and no smell!) and captured rainwater comes out of the sinks.

  4. I was there about four years ago after I took a week long class in the summer through CBF. I was really excited about their toilets (even though it sounds strange). They have the same set-up on an island near Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay. It was very cool, although some people in the class had a hard time dealing with the composting toilets. I would love to work for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, but all of their job listing I have seen would mean a drastic pay cut AND no more summers off!

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