Water Saving Updates in your Bath

Toilet Planter

Reduce Reuse Recycle

In my local newspaper last week, there was an article on water utility rates.  In Georgia, specifically the Atlanta suburbs, we have enjoyed low water utility rates for a very long time.  I live in a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath 3200 square foot home.  I don't have a lawn sprinkling system but I do water my vegetable garden and some of my shrubs during the dry season.  My monthly water bill is anywhere from $20 to $40 depending on the season.  The article explained that water rates are going to be raised to help offset shortfalls in revenue and to pay for system upgrades.  My rates may triple soon.

I am now doubling my focus on conserving water in my home.  In past efforts, I have done the following:

1. Fix Water Leaks. I called a plumber and had him fix all of the dripping faucets and running toilets in the home.  He also inspected the entire water system for leaks.  This was the best money I've ever spent since my water usage dropped by 20%

2. Install Low-Flow fixtures.  I have aerators on all of my faucets but now have low-flow shower heads with on/off buttons.  I use less water per shower and turn off the valve when I'm not rinsing.  Unfortunately, I'm the only one in my household who does this consistently so the savings were minor. (I mean turning off the water valve.  We all take showers!)

3. Install drought-resistant shrubs.  I water my yard less now that most of the foliage is drought-resistant and doesn't require daily watering.

I have always known that the biggest water wasters in my home are the four 1991 vintage toilets.  They have large reservoirs and use around 5 gallons of water per flush.  Since the average person in the US flushes a toilet 4 times per day, that means I use around 30,000 gallons of water a year flushing toilets. (I reduced the number by 6500 gallons for flushes that happen at other locations)

If I install a 1.28 gpf low-flow toilet, I should be able to reduce my annual water usage by 25% or 7,500 gallons.  In addition, Georgia has a toilet rebate program that will pay a $100 water bill rebate for up to two toilets per home for a 1.28 gpf toilet on the approved list.  I'm starting to think that I will definitely be doing a toilet upgrade in my home this fall!

After doing a little research online, it looks like the Kohler Wellworth Model K-11498-0 qualifies for the $100 rebate and has the highest flush power rating in its class.  It is also available from my local home improvement store.  I will likely upgrade the two most used toilets in the home first unless I can get a multi-toilet installation discount from my plumber.

I hope this has been helpful.  I will provide follow-up information after the toilet upgrade to let you know how well it worked.  Come visit the Residential Water Conservation forum at the Mapawatt Community to join the discussion on how to best conserve water in your home!

In the spirit of the picture on this blog post, see if you can find a creative way to dispose of your old toilet.  However, make sure you check with your Home Owner's Association before making them a part of your landscaping!

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Chris, When I was at Home Depot researching toilets, there were several brands that were the same gpf rating but had different flush power ratings. From what I saw, there were some 1.28gpf toilets that outperformed 1.6gpf models. I think we may need a post on how toilets flush? Actually, I found a good explanation with an animated flash flush! :) -Powell
Steve, Thanks for the information. When I was researching toilets, I heard good things about the American Standard toilets. I ended up going with the Home Depot house brand Glacier Bay 1.28gpf toilets and am happy with the performance so far. I'm really amazed at the flush power! On a flush scale of 1 to 10, they were rated a 10. I was a bit skeptical but can confirm this now after two weeks of use. I'd be curious to hear what toilets you've tested that don't work well. For folks who are not DIY installers, it would be good to have a list of models to stay away from too. Powell
ckmapawatt's picture
So my toilets are Sterling 1.6 GPF and the flush power is probably a 3 on a scale of 1-10. Let's just say I have to double flush quite often (and no, this doesn't happen everywhere I's not me I swear!). Do you think we just need new toilets? I always just looked at the GPF and didn't even think about flushing power. Does it vary greatly within toilets with the same GPF?
Hi Guy, The Hydroright unit sounds like a great option. For my house, the existing toilets were "builder's grade" units that didn't flush very well even with almost 5gpf! They were due to be replaced even if I wasn't looking to reduce my water usage. I ended up buying four Glacier Bay 1.28gpf toilets from Home Depot that came with wax ring and all new hardware for $98. They even included a toilet seat in the deal. I bought two at first and tested them for two weeks for our highest traffic bathrooms in the house. They worked great and were much more powerful than the existing toilets. I bought two more on Saturday and finished the installation yesterday. I'm looking forward to see how much water I save year-over-year in the next few months!
ckmapawatt's picture
Hey guys, great comments. Powell actually wrote the above post, so I can't claim credit for this good one. But something I can claim credit for is our post on the <a href="" rel="nofollow"> Perfect Flush </a> dual-flush device. Guy, it sounds a lot like the unit you mentioned but the Perfect Flush is a lot more expensive. Have you been happy with the performance on the one you have?
I installed the Hydroright unit (and posted to your Perfect Flush page about it) in early September and no problems so far. Simple, easy installation and our guests have had no problem understanding how to use it. And yes, the price is right! What's not to like. :)
Chris, I have 2 of the hydroright units, no complaints here. If on rare occasions I need to double-flush the er, full flush, I'm sure it's more than made up for by all the half-flushes prior. I've tracked my water usage over the past several years and after adding this to both toilets, getting a more efficient washer, and putting low-flow aerators on sinks, we've -dramatically- reduced water usage. I'll put up a blog post with graphs some day. :)
Chris, At my workplace, we spec toilets for prototypes of several national hotel brands. To make sure we aren't putting in toilets into hotels that'll under perform or clog, we test in-house the latest in low-flow toilets from American Standard, Kohler, and Caroma. For the most part, dual flush systems just don't work. Under light use, they'll perform ok, but in an office or hotel, they'll frequently require double, full 1.6 gallon flushes - which isn't going to cut it. I've been impressed with most 1.28 GPF toilets, with the top performer being the American Standard FloWise. I haven't tested the Kohler Wellworth model that you're looking at, so I can't say anything for that model.
Steve, If you read my followup post titled, "HET Toilet Upgrade" you'll read that out of the four toilets I purchased listed as the same model, (Glacier Bay/Home Depot Model No. 331-725) one of the four toilets was a completely different design. It had a smaller flush hole in the bowl and different flush hardware. A week after installation, the flush valve stopped sealing and wouldn't stay full. (constant running... so much for water saving!) I'm going to attempt to return it to Home Depot and I may just punt and upgrade to the American Standard Flowise for that toilet. Could you verify the model that you tested? Here is the one that I think you are talking about from the Home Depot website: American Standard Cadet 3 FloWise Right Height 2-Piece High-Efficiency Elongated Toilet in White Model # 3378.128.020 Powell
Chris, Like you, I had been considering replacing our old toilets a few months back. But instead I elected to upgrade them with a "Hydroright dual-flush toilet conversion kit" for $25.00. This simple kit retrofits into the tank with NO tools required. Takes about 20 minutes to install -- if you are mechanically inclined and patient with the instructions. The flush handle is replaced with a round device with 2 buttons for #1 and #2 = low and high flush. Both can be calibrated separately to adjust the amount of water used. I found mine in the local ACE hardware store, but they are available on the web, here's a search link:;q=hydroright%20dual-flush%20toilet%20kit A lot cheaper than replacing the whole toilet! :)


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