Dual Flush Toilets: A No-brainer for New Construction or Replacements

“You want me to waste 8 gallons of water so you don’t have to see a piece of paper with “Tampax” written on it?”

Demi Moore to Rob Lowe in About Last Night, 1986

Once again, a 1980′s movie serves as inspiration for the latest Greenspiration Home blog…

It was a fair question posed by Demi Moore (“Debbie” in the movie), although I suspect it was rhetorical, as are most questions asked during heated arguments. This one takes place in a bathroom. Rob Lowe’s character “Dan” makes the ill-conceived suggestion that “Debbie” simply flush the wrappers of her feminine products so that he doesn’t have to find them scattered on the floor.

Recently, while watching this movie for what must have been the 24th time, I heard this line and wondered, “Did toilets really ever use that much water?” I mean, ‘Debbie’ was mad in this scene, and I exaggerate too when I’m mad.

But I think she was right – at least about what was standard in the 80’s. Suffice to say that even today, many toilets are still using 3 to 5 gallons per flush.

Thankfully, Federal Legislation has required all U.S. plumbing manufacturers and importers to meet a 1.6 gallon per flush standard since 1992. That doesn’t mean we’re all using them yet, but if we did, the EPA says we’d be saving around 4000 gallons per toilet per year; and we’d be saving money.

The EPA estimates that a family of four that replaces its home’s older toilets with WaterSense labeled models will, on average, save more than $90 per year in reduced water utility bills, and $2,000 over the lifetime of the toilets. Of course, it all depends how bad your existing toilets are. Some households will save a lot more.

But Do Dual Flush Toilets Work?
Dual flush toilets work absolutely fine. A decade ago there may have been some frustration with low flow toilets, but trust me, today just about every toilet manufacturer out there has perfected the performance of the .8/1.6 gallon dual flush toilet. Some use even less than that.

Of course I speak from experience. My own dual flush toilets are the best toilets I’ve ever owned. They are reliable, sleek looking, and easy to clean. Instead of a handle they have two buttons at the top of the tank – one for the lower volume flush and one for the higher volume flush. I am assuming my audience can figure when you would use the 1.6 gallon flush. Although, at the risk of sharing too much information, we’ve noticed that the .8-gallon flush rarely lets us down. You’ll also be interested to know that I haven’t had to use a plunger in over two years. What family since the time of outhouses has gone a whole year without using a plunger?

Not really. The prices of toilets can all vary from model to model, but the price is no longer affected to any great degree by the volume of the flush. So, whether you prefer a “throne” with all the bells and whistles, or a purely utilitarian commode, it’s not going to cost you to go with the low flow or dual flush. In fact, if you pay for your water, as most people do, you will actually save money.

So where’s the sacrifice, you ask? I can’t think of a single one. It’s such an obvious choice that I’m a little peeved that all builders don’t at least suggest dual flush toilets to their clients.

My advice? Don’t wait for a builder or plumber to bring it up. You don’t need their blessing on this one.

1 Responses »

  1. Thanks for this experienced back posting. I’m just about to pull the trigger on replacing two 30 year old toilets with dual flush models and your post helped me get over worries about the toilets not cleaning out well.

Leave a Response