As the Summer slowly creeps up on us, an unseasonably dry winter has left most of the United States with below average rainfall. This is not a new situation for many regions of the country, but for this New Englander it raises some questions. How can we cut back on water usage while saving money and resources at the same time?
After a little research, I was surprised to learn that the single largest water user in the home is the toilet. Flushing accounts for 38% of water use in the home each day. There is a simple fix that saves water and money. Replacing an old model toilet with a new low-consumption toilet (low-flow) could automatically cut your home water consumption by 25%. That translates to money in your pocket as well as conserving our most precious natural resource, water.
State plumbing codes vary, but in Massachusetts, new or replacement installations require toilets use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. These toilets are commonly known as low-flow, low-consumption or low-flush, and as a consumer it’s best to do your research before purchasing a new toilet, as not all toilets perform equally. A great resource is the US Environmental Protection Agency’s partner program WaterSense. WaterSense can help you calculate your water usage and choose a high efficiency and high performance toilet. Don’t forget to look for the EPA WaterSense label and American National Standard Institute (ANSI) certification for any new toilets. For more information check out the US. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
So how much water does a low-flow toilet save? Well, let’s compare. My mom’s house is a 1960’s ranch and has the original toilet. Per the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA), by replacing her 7 gallon per flush toilet (pre-1980 model) with a 1.6 gallon per flush low-flow model, mom will save 77%. By replacing her second toilet which is a 5 gallon per flush with a 1.6 gallon per flush toilet, she’ll save 68%.
That’s a huge savings in resources and money. To drive the point home further, if every American home with older inefficient toilets replaced them with WaterSense labeled toilets, we would save 640 billion gallons of water per year. That’s the equivalent to more than two weeks of flow over Niagara Falls! Imagine the possibilities....
So even if you’re only replacing one old and inefficient toilet, the cost savings and environmental impact are tremendous. Some municipalities offer low-flow toilet rebates. For rebates in your locale, click here.
Each of us can make a difference, so why not start today? Maybe that will be my mother’s day present this year. I know my mother, and Mother Earth, would appreciate the gesture. How about yours? Thanks for reading and happy early Mother’s Day!
P/s: Also check out Lauren's recent experience in purchasing a high efficient EPA labled WaterSense toilet here.