When it comes to energy efficiency, the subject of water is overlooked. This is usually the case with a toilet. Most of us flush and think nothing of it. However, recent studies indicate the average person flushes a toilet 5 times a day. Over the lifespan of an average person, a toilet will be flushed nearly 140,000 times. That means if you own an old 3.5 gallon per flush or 7 gallon per flush toilet, you use 6,400 or 12,800 gallons of water a year just by flushing the toilet. If there is more than one person in a household, this number would obviously double, triple, quadruple, etc. That’s a lot of water doing down the drain.
The good news is that the excess use of water has not gone unnoticed, as government regulations eliminated the standard 3.5 gallon per flush toilet in 1992. Since 1994, all toilets sold in the United States have been 1.6 gallons per flush or less. Those same 5 flushes now only use 2,900 gallons of water per person annually. Simply making this adjustment saves the typical home over 10,000 gallons each year, amounting to costs savings of $50 to $125, depending on usage habits and utility rates in your area. Over the life of a toilet, these savings could add up to over $2,000.
Even with the reduction in water usage in the newer models, standard toilets are still responsible for approximately 26% of all indoor water use in the home. High-efficiency toilets (HETs) attempt to further address this problem. HETs use 1.28 gallons per flush or less and empty the bowl of waste just as efficiently as standard toilets. They also further reduce water and wastewater usage for each flush.
However, there is a drawback with HETs. The issue is the amount of water required to move the waste through the sewer lines. Piping for older homes may require as much as 5 gallons per flush to move the waste adequately through the sewer system. As such, HETs are not recommended for older homes.
If you are not in the market to replace your toilet, you should still do yourself a favor and make sure it is in good working order. A leaky toilet could waste up to 45,000 gallons of water per year. If you find your toilet is leaking, replace the flapper as a starting point.
For more ideas on how to save water, see our toilet tips below.