How to Use Less Water With a Low Flow Toilet
What is a Low Flow Toilet?
A low flow toilet is a toilet that uses less water per flush than a standard toilet. Low flow toilets are designed to conserve water while still providing adequate flushing power.
The federal standard for new toilets sold in the United States limits the maximum flush volume to 1.6 gallons (6 liters) of water per flush. Older, standard toilets use 3.5 gallons (13 liters) or more per flush. Replacing an old 3.5 gallon toilet with a new 1.6 gallon low flow toilet can save a household of four over 16,000 gallons of water per year.
There are two main types of low flow toilet designs:
- Gravity-flush toilets – These operate similarly to standard toilets but with modifications to the tank and flush valve to reduce the water usage.
- Pressure-assist toilets – These use compressed air in the tank to force water into the bowl at a high pressure. The compressed air allows them to use less water while still providing strong flush power.
Benefits of Low Flow Toilets
There are several benefits to using a low flow toilet:
Save water – The major benefit is the reduced water usage, which saves thousands of gallons per year for the average household. This preserves our water resources and saves money on utility bills.
Lower utility bills – Using less water directly translates to lower water and sewer costs on monthly utility bills.
Environmentally friendly – Conserving water is important for environmental sustainability, especially in arid regions susceptible to drought.
Compliance with regulations – Many municipalities now require high-efficiency toilets in new construction and renovations to meet conservation targets. Installing a low flow toilet may be mandatory.
Tips for Effective Use of Low Flow Toilets
While low flow toilets conserve water, their lower flush volumes leave less margin for error. Here are some tips for getting the best performance from a low flow toilet:
Maintain the toilet – Mineral deposits, mold, and debris reduce flush power. Regularly clean the toilet and keep the bowl clear of buildup.
Avoid flushing unnecessary items – Only flush toilet paper and human waste. Other items can clog the toilet or reduce flushing effectiveness.
Be careful with paper choice – Extra thick toilet paper, paper towels, and baby wipes can clog the toilet. Use toilet paper designed for septic systems.
Install or adjust a low flow toilet properly – An improperly installed toilet will not flush effectively. Ensure it is installed at the correct height and the tank water level is set per the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Consider dual flush toilets – These have a choice of light or heavy flush volumes. The light flush saves water for liquid waste removal.
Use a bowl cleaning solution regularly – Periodically add a toilet bowl cleaner to the tank to prevent mineral scale and improve flushing.
When to Upgrade an Old Toilet
Here are some signs it is time to upgrade an inefficient old toilet:
- Frequent clogs and double flushing required
- Slow draining bowl or tank takes long time to refill
- Toilet leaks between flushes
- High water bills
- Loud and disruptive flushing sounds
- Unable to find replacement parts
Replacing pre-1980s toilets with WaterSense certified high efficiency models can pay back the upgrade cost in under a year in water savings. It is one of the most effective steps you can take to conserve water in your home.
Low flow toilets provide impressive water savings with minimal effect on flushing performance. By following proper toilet maintenance habits and making smart choices about what you flush, a low flow toilet can significantly reduce water use while keeping your bathroom hygienic. Upgrading outdated toilets to new high efficiency models is one of the best eco-friendly improvements you can make in your home.