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How to save the planet one flush at a time - Dual Flush Toilets

Ok, so it may not be the complete answer to our environmental issues, but dual flush toilets do go a long way in helping reduce the pressure on fresh water consumption. And, they work so well, you will never turn back. Many years ago, my husband, being the romantic that he is, surprised me with a present - yes, it was a dual flush toilet! He installed it while I was out and surprised me with it when I returned. I was teaching a course on Green Building and Planning and had wanted one for our home, knowing that we could improve on the standard 6L flush toilet that we had.

Reasons to make the change

It may not be the first thought you have when it comes to making eco-friendly choices in the home, but it is an important one. When we consider the growing regions of the world that are water-stressed, and this is expected to increase with climate change, flushing away waste should not be one of our largest uses of freshwater. Also consider that the more water we send to the sewage treatment plants, the more must be processed. The sheer volume of water can overload treatment facilities and cause them to discharge raw sewage into nearby water bodies. (Seriously - yuck!)

Not every toilet is the same

Many people may not stop to consider how something as standard and mundane as a toilet contributes to their environmental impact and water bill. Afterall, most toilets look and perform the same, right? Wrong! People started paying more attention to their toilets in 1992 when the U.S. Federal Energy Policy Act declared that toilets sold in the U.S. could use no more than 1.6 gallons (6 L) of water per flush. Ever since this act was put into place, increasingly environmentally friendly toilet designs have been introduced to the North American market. With all these new models available, it is important for consumers to assess their toilets and determine whether it is time for an upgrade!

How environmentally friendly is your toilet?

You may be wondering how you can determine if your toilet is environmentally friendly. The main thing you will want to determine is the amount of water that is used per flush. Toilets in North America that were designed before 1992 will use a whopping 19 to 30 L (5 to 8 gallons) of water per flush! This amount of water is unnecessary, as current low-flow single flush toilets reduce the amount of water being used per flush to around 6 L (1.6 gallons) or less.

Because there are so many different makes and models of toilets, it can be difficult to tell how much water yours is using just by looking. Lots of toilets will have markings just above the toilet seat hinge which will indicate how many gallons or litres are used per flush. If the information isn’t located there, try looking inside the toilet tank.

Dual flush toilets

Dual flush toilets use two buttons or a handle mechanism in order to flush different amounts of water. Dual flush toilets use approximately 3 L for a half flush and 4.5 L for a full flush. This design allows for lesser amounts of water to flush liquid waste and larger quantities of water to flush solid waste. This significantly decreases the amount of water your household consumes, as according to the American Water Works Association Research Foundation, approximately 26.7% of residential indoor water consumption comes from flushing toilets. Not only will dual flush toilets help to reduce your environmental impact, but it will also save you money on your water bill!

The dual flush system was originally developed by the Japanese sanitary product manufacturer TOTO in 1960. Unfortunately, this technology was not commonly used within Japan and was unknown to other countries. It wasn’t until Caroma, an Australian sanitary company, designed a dual-flush toilet in 1980 that this technology became well-known around the world.

Out with the old!

If you have an older toilet in your home - now is the time to make the change! If you still have one of those enormous older tanks that use more than 6 L per flush, get going and make that change immediately! If you have a standard 6 L flush toilet, consider an upgrade to a dual flush toilet. I have been absolutely satisfied with mine, and it has saved plenty of money in our water bill. Plus, some jurisdictions even have rebates available for you to make the decision even easier!

How much water does your toilet use?

What’s the deal with low-flow and dual-flush toilets?

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