Use less water by learning how to take care of your toilet. Toilets are the main source of water use in your home – accounting for about one-fourth of an average home’s water consumption.
Read on to learn about three options for reducing the amount of water used by your home’s toilet: checking for leaks, retrofitting older toilets and considering an upgrade to a high-efficiency toilet.
Check for toilet leaks
The toilet is one of the most likely places to find leaks in your home. Sometimes it is easy to tell that your toilet is leaking because you hear running water or a faint hissing or trickling. But many times, water flows through the tank silently, which is why these leaks are often overlooked.
Follow these easy instructions to check for a leak:
- Remove the toilet tank lid.
- Drop one dye tablet or 10 drops of food coloring into the tank. (Dye tablets are often available for free through local water providers).
- Put the lid back on. Do not flush.
- Wait at least 10-15 minutes, and then look in the bowl. If you see colored water, you have a leak. If not, you don't.
Identifying common toilet leaks
Retrofit Older Toilets
If purchasing a new toilet is not possible, you can retrofit an older toilet (those that use 3.5 gallons of water per flush or more) so that it uses less water each time it flushes.
One of the easiest retrofits is installing something called a fill cycle diverter. The fill cycle diverter is a simple plastic device that directs more water to the tank and less to the bowl while they refill. This way the tank and bowl finish filling at roughly the same time and water isn’t wasted while one runs water while the other one fills. Once installed, a fill cycle diverter will save about .5 gallons of water with each toilet flush. Many water providers give fill cycle diverters to their customers for free, or you can purchase one at most home improvement stores or online.
High Efficiency Toilets - Why Upgrade?
Older toilets can use 1.6, 3.5, 5, or even up to 7 gallons (!) of water with every flush.
Replacing an older model toilet with a new high efficiency toilet (HET) that uses only 1.28 GPF can greatly decrease your household's total water usage. Here are a some things to keep in mind:
- If you decide to upgrade, look for the WaterSense logo (think EnergyStar, only water). To earn this label, toilets must meet rigorous criteria for performance and must use no more than 1.28 GPF. Only HETs that complete the third-party certification process can earn the WaterSense label.
- HETs are widely available at home improvement and plumbing stores, and typically cost about $100-400 plus any installation fees. The estimated payback time for a HET typically ranges from half a year to five years depending on the cost of your toilet and your household's annual water and sewer costs.
- Check with your water provider for rebates! You could receive anywhere from $40-100 off your purchase depending on what they offer.
Can’t afford an upgrade? If purchasing and installing a new toilet is not an option, you can still save water by finding and fixing toilet leaks and retrofitting older toilets to use less water.