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Flush with success, while saving water

Toilet flushing typically accounts for 30% of a family’s water use, making it the greatest single water-using appliance. The average family can save up to $100 per year in water costs by installing water-saving toilets. Some models can provide a payback in less than one year. 

Depending upon how old your toilet is, it may be designed to use either 3.5 or 5 gallons of water per flush (gpf). That compares with the standard for new toilets, with a maximum of 1.6 gpf—and some as low as 1.0 gpf. With new internal water flow designs, they still flush effectively. 

When you purchase a toilet, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises looking for the WaterSense label. This is used on toilets that are independently certified to meet strict performance and efficiency criteria. The average family can reduce water used for toilets by 20% to 60% with these models, according to the EPA. 

WaterSense labeled toilets are available in a wide variety of prices and styles. Be sure to check online for rebates. In many areas, water utilities offer rebates and vouchers that can lower the price of a WaterSense labeled toilet, the EPA says. 

Two locations, different choices 

A standard gravity-type 1.28- or 1.6- gpf toilet would be the best choice for your upstairs master bathroom. Two-piece (tank and bowl) models are usually less expensive than more stylish one-piece models and are easier to handle in two pieces. These are reasonably quiet and the only drawback is that the gap between the two pieces is harder to keep clean. 

Dual-flush gravity models use either 1.1- or 1.6-gpf for liquids or solids respectively. The flush volume is controlled via the handle or push buttons. Both are equally effective. 

For your new first-floor half-bathroom, consider installing a pressure-assist model, commonly used in public restrooms. These create a forceful, rapid flush with compressed air. The flush is louder than a gravity model’s, but this should not be a problem on the first floor.

JAMES DULLEY is a nationally syndicated columnist who writes on energy efficiency and do-it-yourself energy topics. 

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