Low-Flow Toilets 

Why Should You Replace Your Old Toilet? There Are BIG Water Savings!

Image Source: Environment Canada - Water Use In The Home graphic diagramImage Source provided by Environment Canada. Water use in the home by percentage for Showers and baths 35%, toilet flushing 30%, Laundry 20%, Kitchen and drinking 10%, Cleaning 5%.

Approximately one third of the water used in your home is for flushing toilets – your biggest source of indoor water consumption! Toilets also happen to be a major source of wasted water due to leaks and for every cubic meter of water you buy, you pay again to treat that same cubic meter as sewage. There are many ways to save on water used by your toilet - including reducing the number of times you flush per day, (example: by not putting garbage in the toilet), finding and repairing any leaks you have, and most importantly, retrofitting older, water wasting fixtures in your home such as toilets with more water efficient  models.

Homeowners who were disappointed with the performance of early low-flow toilets in the 1980s and 1990s will be much happier with they find on the market today. They can flush twice as much waste with half as much water. But while some low-flow models work well, others do not. New designs have improved the performance of many models, but some still do not flush thoroughly.  How can you navigate all of the different models on the market to find the ones that work best with less?  Look no further than WaterSense.

What Are WaterSense Labeled Toilets

Water Sense Meets EPA Criteria logo imageThe WaterSense label is used on toilets that are certified by independent laboratory testing to meet rigorous criteria for both performance and efficiency. Only high-efficiency toilets that complete the third-party certification process can earn the WaterSense label. Unlike some first-generation, "low-flow" toilets, WaterSense labeled toilets combine high efficiency with high performance. Design advances enable WaterSense labeled toilets to save water with no trade-off in flushing power. In fact, many perform better than standard toilets in consumer testing.

Water Efficient Toilet pictureWater efficient toilets are now easily accessible and inexpensive. Due to falling prices of 6 L, 4.8 L and dual flush (6 & 3 L) toilets in recent years, water bill savings support replacement of inefficient 13 and 20 L toilets without municipal rebates. Over the years, the price of water efficient toilets has been reduced as low as $100 due to increased demand, thanks to water friendly legislation and higher standards, such as WaterSense. Products bearing the WaterSense label are generally 20 percent more water–efficient than similar products in the marketplace. The WaterSense label can help you identify high-performing, water–efficient toilets as well as other water conserving products.

WaterSense makes it easy to find and select water efficient products and ensures consumer confidence in those products with a label backed by independent certification. Certifying organizations help maintain the WaterSense integrity and credibility by verifying and testing products for conformance to WaterSense specifications, efficiency, performance, label use and also conduct periodic market surveillance. One such example is Maximum Performance (MaP) Testing.

Maximum Performance (Map) Testing - The Only Measurement of Toilet Flush Performance

In 1996, the Ontario Building Code mandated that 6 litre toilets be installed in all new construction. Unfortunately, many of these early designs did not perform as required. Fortunately, due to independent third party Maximum Performance Testing, toilet design and performance has improved dramatically.

The Maximum Performance (MaP) testing project was developed in 2003 in order to identify how well popular toilet models perform using a realistic test media.  The testing protocol, cooperatively developed by water-efficiency and plumbing fixture specialists in the U.S. and Canada, incorporated the use of soybean paste as a test media, closely replicating the "real world demand" upon toilet fixtures. The current MaP lists provide performance information on over 2,050 different tank-type toilet fixture models.  Over 1,100 are tank-type WaterSense-certified high-efficiency toilets (HETs)! Go to www.map-testing.com and click on WaterSense for an up-to-date listing of approved models.

Low-Flow Toilet Payback Period

The table below demonstrates potential water savings of an average household in Brantford over the course of one year, if old 13 or 20 litre toilets are replaced with high-efficiency models:

 Toilet Flush Volume
 20+ Litre Toilet
 13 Litre Toilet
 6 Litre Toilet
 4.8 Litre Toilet
 3 Litre Toilet
 Toilet Age
 Prior to 1985
 1985-1995  1996-Present  ?-Present
 ?-Present
 *Water use per person per day
 100 Litres
 65 Litres
 30 Litres
 24 Litres
 15 LItres
 *Water use per household per day
 240 Litres
 156 Litres
 72 Litres
 58 Litres
 36 Litres
 Water use per household per year
 88 m3  57 m3  26 m3  21 m3  13 m3
 Annual Water Volume Saved for Switching to Low-Flow Toilets from 20 Litre Toilets:
 62 m3/year  67 m3/year  75 m3/year
 Monthly Water Volume Saved for Switching to Low-Flow Toilets from 20 Litre Toilets:
 5.2 m3/month  5.6 m3/month  6.3 m3/month
 Monthly Savings from your 2014 Water bill including savings on sewer charges:
 $18/month  $19/month  $22/month
 Payback period for average family at purchase price of $200
 11.2 months  10.5 months  9.2 months
Potential Water Savings for one year

*NOTE: The above figures are estimations based on assuming an average of 2.4 persons per household are each flushing 5 times per day on average.

Assuming the toilet you want to replace is losing 20 litres per flush, replacement with a low-flow toilet for use by an average size family at a purchase price of $200 will take less than a year to recoup the money. After that, it’s all just money in the bank!

Water use per flush - conventional toilet 18 litres versus ULV toilet 6 litres graphic diagram imageWithout proper maintenance, even a water efficient toilet may start to consume more water over time. If the flapper is not replaced regularly, it can deteriorate and the toilet may quietly run. To test your toilet for leaks, follow the steps below:

  1. Remove the tank cover from your toilet.
  2. Place a drop or two of food colouring into the tank during a period of idle use.
  3. Observe if any coloured water has seeped into toilet bowl after 15 to 30 minutes.

If you observe the added food colouring in the toilet bowl, without having flushed the toilet, you have a leak! This is an excellent opportunity to replace your toilet with a water efficient model, or to replace the flapper or fill valve. Check with your local plumbing supply store to ensure you replace the flapper with one specifically designed for your toilet.

Small Things you can do to make a BIG difference in your water bill:

  • Install a low-flow (6 L or less) or dual-flush (3 L/6L) toilet to save water every time you flush.
  • Avoid unnecessary flushing. Don't flush tissues, insects, and other waste suitable for the trash can down the toilet.
  • Check for any leaks in your toilet and repair them. Worn flappers are a common problem.Replace or adjust the toilet flush handle if it is sticking regularly as this causes water to flow constantly.
  • For toilets larger than 6 litres, place a water-filled plastic bottle or commercial toilet insert into the tank. This reduces the volume of water needed to fill the tank, but still provides enough for flushing.
  • Avoid placing items such as bricks in your toilet tank which ultimately crumble and can damage the plumbing of the house.

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