Low-Flow Toilets

High Efficiency Toilets (HETs)
Save water and money! Install a WaterSense labeled, high efficiency toilet.

Information for Homeowners

Homes built before 1992 may have high water use fixtures. In 1992, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act which set national standards for plumbing fixtures to promote conservation. By replacing your older fixtures you can save water and money!

If you have an older toilet (pre-1992) you could be using up to 30% of your indoor water for toilet flushing. Older, less efficient toilets are responsible for most of the water wasted in American homes, using up to 7 gallons per flush. High efficiency toilets (HETs) use only 1.28 gallons per flush for an incredible water savings.

When shopping for a new, water efficient yet high performing toilet, look for the WaterSense label. WaterSense, a program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is helping consumers identify high performance, water-efficient toilets that can reduce water use in the home and help preserve the nation's water resources. Replacing older toilets with WaterSense labeled toilets could save nearly 2 billion gallons per day across the country.

Estimated Water Savings (per 5 gallon flush toilet):
  • 3.72 gallons per flush at 10 flushes per day = 37.2 gallons per day
  • 13,578 gallons (or 1,815 cubic feet) saved per year
  • (100 cubic feet = 748 gallons)
Toilets have two basic operational elements:
  • The intake of water used for flushing
  • The discharge of waste water
There are different types of toilets based on the way they perform these operations. Identify types of toilets currently in your home and which are appropriate replacements before you purchase.

Gravity Tank Toilets
Gravity tank toilets, which have a bowl and a tank, are most commonly found in residential settings. They depend on volume of water in the tank and usually require water pressure of 10 - 15 pounds per square inch (psi) to operate properly. The tank and bowl are usually two separate pieces but one-piece toilets are available. Gravity tank toilets are relatively inexpensive.

Pressurized Tank Toilets
This design uses water line pressure to achieve a higher flush velocity. Water is not stored inside the tank, but in a tank that compresses a pocket of air and releases pressurized water into the bowl and out the trapway. They require a minimum water pressure of 25 psi to operate well. Retail prices for these toilets are generally higher than gravity tank toilets.

Choosing the Right Toilet
This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a licensed plumber; it is intended as a guide so you are better informed for discussions with your plumber or retailer. Prices vary, but some newer models retail for $100 and higher at home centers.

Ask About References
Manufacturers can provide names of plumbers or users who have installed their products. A good performance record is the single most important indicator of quality. Manufacturers have changed HET models since their introduction. Don't be misled by reports of poor performance by old toilet models which have been discontinued. Make your decisions based on current models.

Ask About Performance Tests

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) designs minimum performance tests and standards for HETs. If you have any doubt about a model's performance, ask to see the manufacturer's performance testing data.Visit the EPA's website to find a WaterSense labeled HET.

Ask About Guarantees & Returns
Some manufacturers may offer product performance guarantees. Before purchasing, ask about the seller's return policy.

Shop Around for the Right Toilet
The cheapest toilet may not be the best but many inexpensive models work well. You want a toilet that does not clog easily, clears the bowl with a single flush and is largely self-cleaning. Ask for references on the performance of specific models from other customers who have installed low-consumption toilets in their buildings.

Choosing a Licensed Plumber / Contractor
Choose a licensed plumber / contractor if you are not installing the toilet yourself. Ask prospective plumbers to perform a proposal inspection of your bathroom and related plumbing prior to your selection. The proposal should include any accessory jobs which need to be part of the project and any extra work items that could develop during the job. The proposal should also include the total number of hours, the plumber's rate per hour and an itemized list of direct expense costs so that a comparison between proposals can easily be made.

Anticipate Possible Additional Work Required
While some toilet replacement jobs will proceed as simple "drop-in" replacements, there are a number of small and large additional tasks that could arise. These may include:
  • Floor tile work
  • Faulty shut-off valve repair
  • Repair or modification of water supply lines
  • Repair or modification of the drain line pitch
  • Repair or modification of the venting system
Plan for the Legal Disposal of Old Toilets
Talk to your plumber about a plan to dispose of the old toilets. Most internal toilet parts can be removed and sold as recyclable scrap metal.

Additional Information
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