As a freelance writer, I find myself writing about all kinds of bizarre things. I research a lot, I learn a lot and sometimes through sheer coincidence, I find myself writing about the same niche subject for multiple clients. These last couple weeks that subject has been low-flow toilets and water conservation.
The world is in a crisis of sorts. The exclamations that we are “running out of water” are not entirely unfounded. It’s certainly not doom and gloom as the tabloid headlines want you to believe, but we are indeed using a lot more fresh water than we can produce and that’s something that can’t continue.
One of the ways that homeowners can help to fix this issue is to make the switch to low-flow toilets. But how much can they save you and are they worth it?
Low-Flow Toilets vs Standard Flow Toilets
The “standard toilet” in the United States uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush. That may not sound like a lot, but if that water was to come out of multiple 500ml Evian bottles, it would cost you around $10. Tap water is obviously a lot cheaper, but it gives you an idea of just how much is wasted every time you flush. What’s more, older toilets can use as much as 6 gallons per flush.
A toilet accounts for a third of all of the water used in the average American home, a number that is in the tens of thousands of gallons every single year.
A low-flow toilet, on the other hand, can use as much as 60% less water per flush. Based on the average US water bill, that means that you can save as much as $150 a year purely based on the water you use in your toilet. Of course, the toilet will set you back more than that, but it’s rarely more than a few hundred and that means that it will start paying for itself within a few short years.
You can actually get some low-flow toilets for as little as $100, which means they will have paid for themselves within the year. These toilets are produced by a number of manufacturers and all of the biggest ones have their own version (although when was the last time you paid attention to the maker of a toilet?). The biggest name in low-flow toilets is TOTO, who make a third of all the ones used in US homes, but American Standard, Kohler and many more have them too. There is more than enough choice for you and your family.
Of course, the toilet won’t last forever. It is estimated that you will get around 20 years out of one of these. However, the same could be said for standard flow toilets and even if that wasn’t the case, you would still stand to save in excess of $1600 over the course of those two decades.
If you’re worried that these toilets won’t be strong enough, don’t be. They are already standard in many countries around the world, including in the United Kingdom. You don’t need to use that much water in a toilet, clearly. If you can get the job done with less than a gallon per flush, why use 1.6, 2 or even 6 gallons per flush?
In the US, homeowners have become accustomed to toilets that would be considered alien in countries like the UK and indeed throughout Europe and Asia. These toilets are already considered standard in this country and that’s because the others use too much water, cost too much for the average homeowner and take too much unnecessary water out of the national limit.
Think about it. There are over 125 million households in the United States with over 300 million people living in them. If you consider that each one will use the toilet at least 3 times a day, and that at least 1 gallon is wasted for each of those, that adds up to a unnecessarily high figure (I won’t bore you, or embarrass myself, by trying to do the math).