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What's The Story on Low Flow Toilets?

What's The Story on Low Flow Toilets?

Critics Question the Real Value of Low Flow Commodes

Low flow toilets have been touted as a way to cut down on water usage while whittling utility costs. However, critics question the real value of these low flow commodes. Sometimes the toilets need to be flushed two or even three times to completely clear waste—and doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose?

Flushing Matters

It has been estimated that we Americans flush more than six billion gallons of water down our toilets every day. That’s a lot. Previously, residential toilets sold in the United States were designed to use about 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush. Most low flow toilets use about 1.6 gallons per flush at most.

In order to really understand the effectiveness of low flow toilets, we need to think about how often the average American uses the bathroom.

Obviously, going to the bathroom is not an exact science. It’s pretty safe to say, however, that the majority of people in the US pass liquid waste more frequently than solid waste in a typical day. For the sake of this example, let’s just assume that the average American uses the toilet six times a day—five times for urination, once for a bowel movement. With an older toilet, using 3.5 gallons of water per flush multiplied by six flushes, that’s 21 gallons of water consumed in a single day.

One of the biggest complaints lodged against low flow toilets is that it sometimes takes more than one flush to fully expel waste—particularly solid waste—from the bowl. So if we factor that into our example and say that those same six bathroom visits require a total of ten flushes with a low flow toilet (five for the liquid waste—because even the weakest low flow toilets should have no problem voiding a little extra liquid—and five more for a single solid waste event), at 1.6 gallons of water used per flush that’s still only 16 gallons a day. No matter how you slice it, 16 is significantly less than 21 and in this scenario would save almost 2,000 gallons of water a year.

Low Flow Toilets Are Much More Comprehensive

Keep in mind, too, that low flow toilets have come a long way over the past fifteen years. Sure, the first models left much to be desired in terms of complexity of design and functionality. In fact, most manufacturers simply added parts to existing fixtures, which sometimes inhibited the reduced water flow technology. Now, though, low flow toilets are much more comprehensive, and other elements like the shape of the bowl and configuration of the tank mechanisms have been revamped to work more effectively with water conservation features.

Do Some Research

Several university studies have proven that today’s average low flow toilet is just as effective at removing waste, if not more so, than a standard commode. You may have to shop around and do some research to find a model that doesn’t require repetitive flushing or developing a close, personal relationship with your plunger, but they are out there.

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