What does your old toilet say about you?

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
What does your old toilet say about you?

Photo via iStockPhoto.com

In celebration of World Water Day, we're looking at how people use – and waste – water in their homes, and how they can do better.

In 2013, Palo Alto, California, held a rebate program to flush out old water-wasting toilets in the city. One family turned in a potty manufactured in 1928 that was based on a 1922 design. The family got $125 in rebates toward a new toilet. And they'll be saving water with each pull of the handle.

1928 toilet

The new high-efficiency toilet (HET) will save this household about 120 gallons of water per day, or more than 43,000 gallons per year. That’s enough water to fill an average-sized swimming pool or over 1,400 bathtubs.

Upgrading your toilet from an old school 3.5-gallon per flush model to a new 1.28-gallon model is one of the quickest ways to save water in your home. Some toilets use even less water per flush, with dual-flush systems or other designs.

Water-energy nexus

Here's another source of wasted water in most homes. You see, the intersection of wasted water and the energy wasted to heat and transport it is called the water-energy nexus. The average U.S. home wastes about 10,000 gallons per year per home waiting for the hot water to flow to sinks and showers. That amount of water represents about 3500 kWh per home for heating, which is equal to a pound and a half of carbon dioxide for every kWh.

Learn more about how you can tame the water-energy nexus in your home.

Why is water so important?

According to the 2018 United Nations World Water Development Report:

  • 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services.
  • Around 1.9 billion people live in potentially severely water-scarce areas.
  • Over 80 percent of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the environment without being treated or reused.
  • The number of people at risk from floods is projected to rise from 1.2 billion today to around 1.6 billion in 2050 – nearly 20 percent of the world’s population.

That's why saving and managing water is so important for our country and the planet.

What can you do to help? 

The best place to start is in your own home. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), minor water leaks account for more than 1 trillion gallons of wasted water each year and is equal to annual household water use in 11 million homes. The most common places to find household leaks are your toilet, sinks, and water heater. If your water bill is higher than usual, you might have a leak somewhere in your home. Find the leak, or call a professional to help you track it down and fix it. And if you have an old toilet that is 3.5 gallons per flush or higher (with the big tank on the back), consider an upgrade to a current model.

Read more about saving water in your home.

Topics: Appliances, Bathroom, Going Green, Healthy Homes, Kitchen, Maintenance & Repair, Sinks & Toilets, Sustainability Trends & Statistics, Wastewater Treatment, Water Filtration & Water Quality, Water Saving Devices, WaterSense

Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

wwwView Gary Wollenhaupt's profile on LinkedIn

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