How To Choose An Eco-friendly Toilet
Choosing a toilet comes with a number of considerations, such as how it looks in your space, the quality of its construction, and how comfortable it is. While all are important, more and more people are starting to realize the necessity of an additional consideration: environmental impact.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, standard toilets now use 1.6 gallons of water per flush, though older models can use anywhere from 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush. Naturally, the larger the family, the higher the water consumption, which of course also means higher water bills.
There’s good news, however. The average family can save 13,000 gallons of water and $130 in water costs per year by replacing their old, inefficient toilets with eco-friendly ones. Not sure where to start? That’s why we’re here! Here’s everything you need to know about looking for an eco-friendly toilet.
Know Your Flushing Systems
There are about four flush systems most commonly found in the market today, and each impacts the environment differently.
Gravity Flush. This traditional flush system is powered by gravity, using the weight of the water itself to create flushing pressure. This system houses clean water (often in considerably large amounts) in a cistern that flushes out the waste in a single lever. Gravity flush systems are inexpensive and easy to maintain, making them the most common model found in households. However, they’re prone to sweating and can sometimes underperform, rendering them less effective than one might prefer.
Pressure Assist. Toilets using a pressure-assist system utilize a pressure tank that fills up with water and maintains a certain pressure. When the flush valves open, the combination of pressure and gravity make for a powerful flush, while only using a minimal amount of water. On the downside, they are often more expensive, noisy, and can be difficult to repair.
Vacuum Assist. One of the latest innovations in flush technology is the vacuum-assist system. Toilets with this system include a vacuum tank connected to the trapway (the supply tube that carries water out of the bowl). When the toilet is flushed, the water flowing out of the tank creates a suction which helps draw waste out of the bowl. These systems are simple to repair, effective in providing a strong flush and don’t sweat. However, they’re a little costlier than gravity flush toilets and are not as widely available from manufacturers.
Double Cyclone/Tornado Flush. Instead of having traditional rim holes, the Double Cyclone, or Tornado Flush, system, releases water into the bowl using two large nozzles on either side to create a centrifugal, cyclonic rinsing action. It’s a highly efficient system that uses only 1.28 gallons per flush for both solid and liquid waste.
Whichever flush system you’re considering, to be eco-friendly you’ll need to look for a low-flush toilet. These water-saving toilets use water amounts that range from 1.28 gallons to as little as 0.8 gallons per flush.
While a low-flush toilet is specifically designed to use a minimal amount of water for each flush, dual-flush toilets refine this idea even further. They offer buttons with different flushing options for solid and liquid waste and use appropriate water amounts for each, respectively.
Look for the EPA’s WaterSense Label
As mentioned above, older toilet varieties can use between three and seven gallons of water per flush. Modern varieties of eco-friendly toilets have been designed to get this number down to as little as a single gallon per flush. If a toilet uses this small amount, it qualifies for a WaterSense label from the Environmental Protection Agency. To earn this label, a toilet must use 20% less water than the current federal standard, which is 1.6 gallons per flush. Toilets with the WaterSense label offer the reassurance of lower water bills.
Appearance and Related Features to Consider
Ease of Cleaning. Toilet appearance is changing with the times. These days you can find tankless, eco-friendly toilets and latrines. Some of these also sport a flat base, rather than the traditional curved underside that tapers to the floor. The benefit of a toilet with this sleeker, seamless design is that there are no nooks or crannies to have to clean. Instead, a few swipes with a cleaning brush straight down the side of the bowl will promptly do the trick.
Space. Small bathroom? No problem. Some eco-friendly toilets are purposely designed to conserve space by offering wall-mountable bowls that have no tank or base.
Noise. If the noise level is a concern for you, look for eco-friendly toilets that come with a soft-closing seat and lid, designed to make for an overall quieter bathroom experience.
Accommodation. Side handles are not always in the most convenient position for some, so it’s nice to know that there are eco-friendly toilets on the market that offer variations in handle placement, generally in the form of a flushing button located on the top center of the tank.
There are a number of low-flush and dual-flush eco-friendly toilet options available from various manufacturers. To get you started, you may wish to consider some of these popular options: the dual-flush Kohler Persuade Toilet, The American Standard Clean High-Efficiency Elongated Two-Piece Toilet (which received high marks from the EPA’s WaterSense program), and the Duravit Starck Toilet, which has both jets and low-flow properties. That said, these are just some of the options out there. We encourage you to research the brand that best fits your personal needs.
If you’re in the market for an eco-friendly toilet, CityWide Plumbing salutes you for taking steps to help the environment. We’ve aimed to arm you with the knowledge and the confidence you’ll need to successfully compare products. We look forward to the sense of reward you’ll feel as you conserve water and save money. Happy shopping!