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  2. Since the origin of the toilet in the late 1800s, engineers have endeavored to design commodes to use significantly less water per flush. They’ve been successful. Early models used 7 gallons of water per flush. Later, water volume decreased to 5 gallons per flush, and then in the 1980s, the standard became 3.5 gallons per flush. Finally, in 1995 the National Energy Policy Act (H.R. 776) went into effect and mandated 1.6 gallon flush toilets for the entire United States, compelling engineers to design toilets that could force waste to the sewer line with little water as a propellant.


    Anecdotal reports related poor functionality with early models of low consumption toilets, including the need for multiple flushes to clear the bowl, flapper leaks, and frequent clogging. Clearly, multiple flushes and leaks defeat the purpose of the mandate; and there are costs to consider – those for calling a plumber to unclog the toilet and that of increased water usage, highlighted in each month’s utility bill (Did you know that toilet flushing accounts for 26% of water usage in U.S. homes?).


    Today, low consumption toilets are much improved! This is good news for you because supplies of old toilets and parts are nearing depletion, and while you might be able to cross the U.S. border to the north or to the south to find a 3.5 gallon toilet; do you really want to do that? It’s easier to live with the reality of H.R. 776 and a 1.6 gallon toilet – and better yet, a 1.2 gallon toilet that can help you save an additional 38% on utility costs.


    Today, high efficiency toilets (HETs) go beyond the 1995 mandate. HETs have been defined by the plumbing industry and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as those which use an average of 20% less water per flush than the industry standard of 1.6 gallons. Using a high efficiency unit can save up to 8,760 gallons of water each year for a family of four with average daily flushes of six each.


    Types of High Efficiency Toilets


    ·       Gravity Fed Single Flush Toilets – These toilets operate the same way as standard toilets; however, they use less total capacity per flush. Typical flush capacities are 1.1 and 1.28 gallons.

    ·       Dual-Flush Toilets – Designed for light and heavy flushes, dual-flush toilets generally average less than 1.2 gallons per flush. Dual flush models are available from many well-known manufacturers with light flush capacities from .8 to 1.1 gallons and heavy flush capacities from 1.3 to 1.6 gallons per flush. These toilets operate with either a handle that can move up or down or a two button system. One handle direction or button push will activate the lower flow flush, while the other direction/push will activate the higher flow flush.

    ·       Pressure Assist Toilets – These toilets use either water line pressure or a device in the tank to create additional force from air pressure to flush the toilet. These toilets typically average 1.1 to 1.2 gallons per flush. Some pressure assist systems move a great volume of water at a significantly less volume of sound.

    ·       Power Assist Toilets – These toilets (1 and 1.3 gallons per flush) operate using a pump to force water down at a higher velocity than gravity toilets. Power assist toilets require a 120V power source to operate the small fractional horsepower pump.


    When is it time to get a new toilet?


    ·       Recurring clogs. If the plunger is your best friend, it’s time for a change.

    ·       Porcelain crack/s. A hairline crack on the outside of the toilet can become a monstrous problem. You could have a “flood” at the most inopportune time. If a crack is located within the bowl, it is not as urgent to replace the toilet; however, you should watch for leaking water when you flush. Over time, you can ruin the bathroom floor.

    ·       Grime that can’t be eliminated. Scrubbing and scouring a toilet wears away the porcelain over the years. Eventually, cleaning won’t keep the bowl spotless.

    ·       High water bill. A low consumption toilet helps the environment by saving water and helps you save money. Utilities are going to continue to rise so saving on household water usage makes sense!