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Water Management With Every Flush
Water management, did you say? But did you know that your toilet is the single largest daily water consuming device in your house?
It is true: the toilet consumes nearly 30 percent of the water used in the average home. Now consider that most toilets in America today release about 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf), or about 10 gallons per person per day. And, finally, think about the number of toilets in your home and how many individuals are flushing each day. So right now makes a fine time for an action plan to conserve!
Water must be conserved for two primary reasons. Because it is a precious resource it must be preserved for future generations. This is sustainability. Overuse leads to depletion and serious repercussions. Water must also be conserved as a matter of energy conservation. Water management…pumping and delivery and water treatment…uses a great amount of energy, which figures in billions of dollars of water and energy bills annually.
Water Conservation Per Household
So why does your toilet matter?
The average American house uses about 350 gallons of water each day. The toilet—consuming about 30 percent of this—uses at or above 105 gallons alone. But not every toilet is alike. Some are good and some are better.
The Energy Policy Act of 1992 requires all American plumbing manufacturers and importers to meet or exceed a water-efficiency standard of 1.6 gpf for toilets. (Go check yours now. It should be visible just behind the seat.) Thus, with a 1.6 gpf toilet being the standard, averaging about 10 gal/per/day (3,760 gal/yr), we will begin to see the benefits of a better toilet.
A step down to a 1.28 gpf toilet converts to 6.4 gal/per/day (2,336 gal/yr); and a 1.0 gpf toilet converts to just 5 gal/per/day (1,928 gal/yr). Let’s not even talk about anything non-standard!
We now come to a class of toilets called high-efficiency toilets. High-efficiency toilets use a maximum of 1.28 gpf. They feature in four different technologies (e.g., dual-flush and pressure-assist) with some of them consuming just under 1.0 gpf.
High-efficiency toilets are part of WaterSense, a program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency aimed at protecting the nation’s future water supply by offering people simple ways of conserving water, and in this case, with water-efficient products.
Functioning like Energy Star for appliances, WaterSense adds its label to toilets that use 20 percent less water (high-efficiency) than the federal standard while providing equal or superior performance. Moreover, only toilets that complete a third-party certification process can earn the WaterSense label.
Simple Ways to Conserve Water
Now maybe your throne is firmly in place and you have no plans of buying anything else to replace your (hopefully) 1.6 gpf seat there in the throne room now. There are ways you can conserve still.
The first thing you may want to do is check for toilet leaks. You can purchase dye tablets cheaply, or you may wish to use a few drops of food coloring. Just think of any leaks discovered as a leak in your wallet.
Second, do not use your toilet as a wastebasket. Get in the practice of placing every other waste in a bin. Gallons of water used on a random tissue or the like is truly a waste…oh yeah, and another leak in your wallet.
You may also consider adjusting the flapper chain to allow just enough water for a thorough flush.
There is a maxim some people follow to the disgust of others. You’ll pick up on it quickly: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.” If you can, don’t flush after every pee; maybe every few. Just close the lid.
I use a displacement bag (well the maxim, too.) Displacement bags are cheap and not so easily purchased at your local hardware (definitely buy online). But a formal bag is unnecessary. Some people use a brick or (better) a plastic bottle of some sort. Count this as money earned!
Think on it: If every U.S. household installed just one water-saving feature, water use would decrease by 30 percent—or by one household toilet—each year, the equivalent of 5.4 billion gal/day and $4 billion per year. This is water management done right.