Whether you’re remodeling a bathroom or starting a new construction, eco-friendly toilets are a smart option for conserving natural resources and reducing your water bill. Toilets are after all, the main source of water consumption in the home.
According to estimates from The Water Research Foundation, the average person uses the toilet five times per day and most traditional use up to six gallons of water per flush. For an American family of four, that could amount to 120 gallons of toilet water going down the drain every single day.
Choosing An Eco-Friendly Toilet
As the world’s natural water resources continue to dwindle, eco-friendly toilets play an important role—particularly in regions facing drought or water shortages. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an eco-friendly toilet could help a family of four reduce their water usage by more than 50 percent. Over the course of a year, that amounts to about 13,000 gallons of water savings, or a $140 dollar savings on your water bill.
Here are a few types to consider:
Water conservation efforts and updated efficiency standards have motivated toilet manufacturers to produce water-efficient toilets that perform just as well—or better—than traditional water guzzlers. Eco-friendly low-flow toilets use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush and typically work in one of two ways:
Gravity toilets: When flushed, water is released by a trapper valve and waste is cleared out by gravity. Gravity toilets are the most common type of eco-friendly toilet and are relatively inexpensive.
Pressure assisted low-flow toilets: When flushed, a compressed pocket of air releases a forceful blast of water into the bowl and out the trapway. Pressure-assisted toilets may clear waste more completely, but they’re louder and more expensive.
Dual-flush toilets take water-saving technology a step further with full- and half-flush options for the user. One button for solid waste uses 1.6 gallons per flush, while the other button for urine uses just 0.8. Dual-flush toilets can save up to 68 percent more water than other low-flow toilets. Because dual-flush toilets retain less water in the bowl, they may require more frequent cleaning. They’re also more expensive than other types of eco-friendly toilets.
WaterSense toilets provide the most savings by using just 1.28 gallons of water per flush. That’s 20 percent less water than the current federal standard. Toilets with the EPA’s WaterSense label are developed and independently certified to meet rigorous criteria for efficiency and performance. They’re available in a wide variety of designs and price points, and in many areas utility rebates and vouchers are available to further maximize your savings.
Before Installing an Eco-Friendly Toilet
A sustainable toilet provides an easy and immediate way to reduce the amount of water you use and can pay for itself in the first year. If you think it’s time to upgrade to a more water-efficient and eco-friendly toilet, the EPA’s WaterSense website is a good place to start researching thousands of certified products by brand name and flush type.
You might also consult with a plumber—especially if you live in an older home—to make sure your pipes are in good repair. Potential plumbing issues are more likely to occur in homes with cast iron pipes, negative sloping or too-low pressure. In these cases, a plumber can help provide solutions for the reduced flow of eco-friendly toilets so they’ll work optimally and exactly as expected.
Potential Downsides Of Eco-Friendly Toilets
For those who have embraced the green living trend, eco-friendly toilets (aka low flush toilets) may seem like a great option all round. After all, they’re more cost efficient and use less water than traditional toilets.
But unfortunately, the benefits of eco-friendly toilets don’t come without potential downsides. Can eco-friendly toilets cause plumbing problems? In certain circumstances, yes; we’ll be covering what some of those circumstances are here. See our blog on toilet fill valve problems if you’re experiencing trouble with your water tank.
The GPF Factor
First of all, most of our current water and sewage pipes were made to work with toilets with a GPF (gallons per flush) rating of 3.5 or more. In some cases with eco-friendly toilets, the flush won’t be strong enough to push the waste far enough down the pipes. This will result in a buildup of waste in the pipes. Even if the pipes don’t clog up, sediment will build up and corrode the pipes over time. Also, if your pipes are in need of repair, there is a good chance they’ll become even worse with eco-friendly toilets; therefore, your pipes should be checked and fixed prior to installing eco-friendly toilets.
Negative Pipe Sloping Causes Eco-Friendly Toilet Plumbing Problems
Eco-friendly toilets may cause plumbing problems if the drains slope too much.
If you have an older house, or a house that wasn’t built properly, there may even be a “negative slope”, which means that the water will just stand in the pipe. With negative pipe sloping, waste is only carried away by the sheer force of the gallons of water that is typical from older toilet models.
So, if you have older cast iron pipes with sludge built up in them, you can expect plumbing problems to occur.
To avoid these potential problems, you should consider upgrading your pipes. This can be a smart decision when installing newer model toilets.
For the piping upgrade, consider PVC pipes; they’re better for dealing with the reduced flow of eco-friendly toilets.
If you have aging cast iron pipes and you don’t want to upgrade, you may want to install a pressure-assisted toilet. This type of toilet powers flushing with pressurized air from within the toilet tank. Keep in mind that this is a noisier and more expensive toilet. However, it typically requires less maintenance.
Also be sure to consult with a plumber to see if your house has sufficient pressure to operate an eco-friendly toilet. If house pressure is too low, the eco-friendly toilets may not work as expected.
Contact us to inquire about the toilets that we have in stock today!