Talking HET toilets

| by Lois Vitt Sale
Talking HET toilets

By 2013, it’s predicted that 36 states will experience water shortages. I am fortunate to live close to the Great Lakes that hold 95 percent of the U.S. surface fresh water. But I still don't think that gives me a license to waste water, a precious resource. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the average American uses 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. And, the largest single use of water goes down the toilet! We treat our water, add chlorine and fluoride and then promptly flush most of it (26 percent of our water by some estimates). 

 In my house, my first strategy to lower our water consumption was to install dual flush toilets. When I bought my first ones in 2004, there were very few dual flush toilets on the market. In fact, I had to buy toilets made in Australia because I couldn't find any made in the U.S. In the process I learned that dual flush toilets are mandated in Australia because of water shortage issues. Dual flush toilets give the user a choice between a short flush that uses only 0.8 gallons per flush or a long flush which uses the same amount of water a code compliant toilet uses (1.6 gallons per flush). 

The first days they were installed my youngest son, then 9 years old, needed some guidance in their use. From our new upstairs bathroom completed as part of an addition, he shouted to me, "Mom! Mom what button do I push?" I yelled up to him to push the smaller button when he did number one and the larger button for number two. Hearing my answer, he shouted out, "Mom, do I push both buttons when I do both?" 

Since then we have retrofitted a downstairs powder room with a dual flush toilet made in the U.S. There are a number of American manufacturers making these water-conserving fixtures. When considering which model to purchase, I suggest you ask how they flush. Not all toilets flush the same. Some swirl the water down the drain. Others – which I think work better -- have wash down flushes to evacuate the bowl contents. Water levels in the bowls of a water conserving toilet are lower, so there are some adjustments that need to be made in getting used to these new fixtures. But the good news is, in the six years we've been using them, we've never had a toilet plug up. And that's with a prior history of pulling conventional toilets three or four times in as many years to retrieve objects, including a Spiderman ball, a bottle of cough syrup, and other items my boys lobbed down the drain.

Finally, I have a confession to make. In the original bathroom in our home that was built in 1955, the fixtures are avocado green, with a matching tub, sink and toilet. Remember the days of harvest gold and avocado green? Well I am attached to those retro colors and did not want to replace my green toilet. That toilet -- made before days of the "modern" 1.6 gallon flush units -- probably uses 3 or more gallons per flush.

So, instead of replacing the toilets, I filled the tank with bricks to reduce the amount of water it could use. The moral of this story: not all conservation requires the use of fancy technology. Sometimes an old fashioned brick will do!

Topics: Water Saving Devices

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