Water saving toilets first appeared around 1994 as part of the energy conservation trend sweeping the U.S. The first low flow toilets were notoriously difficult to flush and were not met with rave reviews by consumers.
Happily, things have changed dramatically since those first toilets came out, and todays low flow toilets are efficient and attractive.
Many of todays newer low flow toilets come with additional features that make them work better than ordinary toilets. High pressure flushing devices or vacuum assisted tank mechanisms counteract the once common complaint that low flow toilets dont flush very well.
Older toilets (used prior to the invention of water saving toilets) use about seven gallons of water per flush. The new low flow toilets use 1.6 gallons of water per flush, and a few that feature a dual flushing mechanism use as little as .8 gallons per flush. Whoosh.
Switching to a water saving toilet will save the average household $100 per year or more on sewage and water utility bills. In some parts of the U.S. the savings are even higher.
Low-flow plumbing is not the only way to conserve water around your home. You might consider installing a water harvesting system to gather and store rainwater. Not only will it mean running your hoses less, plants and your lawn prefer the pH of natural rain over tap water.
The quality and effectiveness of water saving toilets varies significantly from model to model. Some of these toilets are more functional than others. In general, when shopping for a new toilet, the newer models are the better ones.
Any water saving toilet will save you money on water and sewage bills, but the following water saving toilets show up frequently on lists of the best of the best:
Toto, various models. Toto is a Japanese manufacturer that currently sells about one third of all water saving toilets purchased in the U.S. Almost all of the Toto models are excellent.
Toto model names that are frequently mentioned on best lists include Soiree, Guinevere, Ultra-max, Drake, and Dartmouth.
Kohlers Purist Hat Pump. Kohler now makes a toilet (the Purist Hat Pump) that comes with a .2 horsepower pump to boost flushing capacity while still saving on water use.
Keep in mind that any toilet that comes with a pump will require electricity to run.
American Standards Fontaine. This model uses pressurized air in the tank to push the water down with each flush. The noise may be a bit alarming at first, but this system works very well and insures one flush per use.
Caroma Dual Flush. Caroma is an Australian company with the ingenious idea of providing two flush choices with each of their toilets.
Push one button for a liquid waste flush that used only .8 gallons of water, and another button for a solid waste flush that uses 1.6 gallons.
Toto Neorest Cyclone Flush. At the very top of the line is the $3,000+ one-piece Toto tank-less cyclone-flushing toilet. This electrical pump-assisted one-piece toilet promises instant water refill and 1.6 gallons per flush and requires a 120 VAC electrical outlet for installation.
Compact and very efficient, the Neorest Cyclone Flush is made with special ion barrier glazing that actually cleans the toilet with every flush.
Most water saving toilets run between $100 and $600 depending on the style, size, and specialized flushing features. Even at the high end ($600), the average annual household savings of $100 off the water and sewage bill means the toilet pays for itself in savings in a few short years. Saving money and going green is a definite win-win.
Some parts of the U.S. no longer allow installation of non-water saving toilets so be sure to check your regulations.
Additionally, some municipal governments offer vouchers or tax incentives to encourage people to replace their standard toilets with the new water saving models.
For example, the city of San Francisco recently offered vouchers for up to $165 per toilet to families willing to replace their old water-wasting model with one of the new low flow toilets.
It makes sense to check your state, city and county website for possible rebates and incentives if you are thinking about installing a water saving toilet. You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find. Not only will you save money but also you will be helping the environment.