Trying to reduce your household water consumption? Look no further than your toilet, the No. 1 water guzzler. One of the all-time thirstiest fixtures, toilets are estimated to be responsible for upwards of 30 percent of household water consumption. And those predating the 1992 federal restrictions of 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) are especially inefficient. Thanks to technological advances, a new breed of toilets offers increased efficiency and performance (early adopters may still wince at the less-than-stellar flushing capabilities of the first low-flow models). Replacing an older model with a high-efficiency WaterSense-certified toilet will reduce water consumption and lower your costs.
We've singled out five notable toilets that meet EPA flushing guidelines of 1.28 gpf or less, and use at least 20 percent less water than the celebrated 1.6 gpf models. This is especially important if you live in California, which now limits toilets sold in the state to the 1.28 gallons per flush standard. See Sarah's 21 Tips: How to Save Water, One Drop at a Time for more ways to dry up your household.
Above: Izabella installed the sleek high-efficiency Kohler Persuade Toilet in her guest bath. The two-piece vitreous china toilet with an elongated bowl features a top-mounted flushing button that offers the choice of 0.8 or 1.6 gallons per flush; $328.35 through Amazon (seat sold separately). Photograph by Izabella Simmons.
Above: The American Standard Clean High-Efficiency Elongated Two-Piece Toilet receives the highest marks in the WaterSense 1.28 gpf category from Consumer Reports. Made of vitreous china, it features a siphon-action jetted bowl and an Everclean surface; $219 at Lowe's.
Above: From Toto's line of high-efficiency toilets, the Toto Drake II Close Coupled Toilet has a 1.0 gpf operation that uses the company's Double Cyclone technology ("a state-of-the-art, hole-free rim design that offers a dual-nozzle bowl cleansing system that creates a centrifugal, cyclonic cleaning action"). It also features a Sana-gloss coating on the chinaware surface, an ion-barrier glazing that helps keep the toilet bowl clean; $364 at Homeclick.
Above: From Caroma of Australia, the Sydney Smart 305 Dual Flush Toilet is a one-piece, high-efficiency toilet that offers 0.8 and 1.28 gallons per flush options (and an average 0.89 gpf of water savings); $343.95 through Waterwise Technologies. Also available at plumbing retailers; visit the Caroma Retail Locator to find the nearest distributor.
Above: Duravit's Starck 3 Two-Piece Toilet (Model D19062) has an elongated seat and siphonic jet action. It offers 1.28 gpf and is made of high-performance ceramic; $301 for the complete set at National Builder Supply.
Above: Highly rated for performance coupled with water savings, the high-efficiency, 1.28 gpf Kohler Wellworth Elongated Toilet touts "class 5 flushing technology"; $220.35 through Amazon.
Above: The Niagara Conservation Stealth Toilet has a 0.8 gallons per flush operation, saving 37 percent more water than regular high-efficiency toilets. Made of vitreous china, this ultra-high-efficiency toilet uses a vacuum-assist mechanism for flush performance with very low noise; $173 (for the round seat model) at Plumber Surplus.
Ready to fully embrace modern toilet technology? Having recently visited Japan, home of high-tech toilets, I am seriously considering investing in The Best Seat in the House.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on February 26, 2013, as part of our Bath & Spa issue.