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May 24, 2018  |  Login

Make your toilet more efficient

A toilet can work efficiently with less water, saving on average 3,541 gallons of water per person annually.

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A new low-flush toilet or a simple device for your old water-guzzler can help drastically reduce the amount of water you flush away. Toilets account for about one quarter of all water used inside the typical home, making them the largest water user. An older, nonconserving toilet uses between 3.5 and seven gallons per flush (gpf). Compare that to a modern conserving toilet that uses a maximum of 1.6 gpf—or better than three-quarters less than the most wasteful toilet still in use.

A low-flush toilet can save a family of four 14,000 gallons of water per year—conserving a precious resource and lowering water bills—and wastewater charges too, in some areas. Today, consumers can go even further and invest in high efficiency toilets (HETs) that carry the EPA’s WaterSense label and use less than 1.3 gpf. Dual flush toilets can average even less gpf by giving the user the ability to choose between 1.6 gallons for solids and 0.8 gallons for liquids.

Not ready for a new toilet? Retrofit your toilet for free: fill a 2-liter soda bottle with water or sand, and place it in your toilet tank. Voila! You will instantly save with every flush. There are products you can buy, too. Options include flush flappers that save up to 50% of water per flush, tank dams that save 2.5 gpf, fill cycle diverters that save .5 to 1.5 gpf, and tank bladders that hold up to 160 oz. and displace an equal amount of water per flush.


Take Action / Next Steps
  • Calculate the cost benefit of upgrading to a conserving toilet.
  • Earn a rebate for replacing inefficient toilets. Call your water utility company directly and inquire.


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1. California Urban Water Conservation Council. Water Saver Home Tour [undated]. “Clothes Washer Water Use.” Available from: [4 December 2007]

2. US EPA. [September 2007] “WaterSense Labeled High Efficiency Toilets (HETs).” Available from: [5 December 2007]

3. National Homebuilder’s Association. [September 2002] “Water Closet Performance Testing.” Available from: [5 December 2007]

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