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Are You Flushing Money Down the Toilet? Conservation at the Water Closet

Did you know that water use at your bathrooms is reported to be nearly one half of your family's total water supply consumption? It's also been reported that one family can save up to 26 percent on their water bill just by making some changes to the configuration of the home's toilet appliances. It can take some fiddling to find a balance between saving water and maintaining toilet performance, but any water usage you manage to reduce will save both money and the planet.

Here are some water conservation tips for your toilet:

  • Toilet Water ConservationFool the Flush. Consider permanently placing a one quart, half gallon, or gallon jug inside the tank of the toilet to displace that same amount of water. You'll need to experiment with the proper size so as not to interfere with any flushing devices. Remember to fill the jug with water to keep it in place. Avoid using sand or pebbles as these may work their way into the water supply and the plumbing. (A jug is the green approach, but you can also purchase a water "bladder" for the tank that accomplishes the same thing. This is especially useful for tanks with a float, where a milk jug for example, just won't fit).
  • Dam It. Placing a water closet dam inside the toilet will prevent full evacuation of water from the tank when flushed. Dams also need to be securely mounted and not interfere with flushing mechanisms. The dam can be adjusted to hold back as much or as little water as you like.
  • Take It Down a Notch. In some toilets you can adjust the water level by adjusting the rod that hangs down from the refill valve. This determines how much water is needed in order to flush--adjusting the clip down will shut the refill off sooner, conserving water.
  • Keep It Mellow. Warning, this suggestion is one that some people take to right away, while others just can't quite stomach (oh, and I wouldn't suggest doing this in someone else's home if you don't know their views on the subject). One way to reduce water usage at the toilet is to reduce the amount of times you flush. This can be accomplished by abiding by the, If it's yellow, keep it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down rule. I'll leave it at that. Just note that if you follow this rule, your toilet may require more regular cleanings. (Which, from a green perspective, might be a toss up between water conservation versus chemical usage).
  • Dye Job. Test the validity of your flapper by doing a quick dye test. Pour a small amount of food coloring into your tank and wait 1 hour. (Caution: food coloring may stain a chipped or badly worn bowl). Do you see the dye migrating to the toilet bowl? If so, time to change the flapper. Make sure you find the proper size for your toilet.
  • Make an Exchange. Some communities, like San Antonio Texas, have a program in place to swap out older, less efficient toilets with new low flush types.  An older, regular flush toilet will typically use 3-6 gallons of water per flush.  The new low flush style use 1.6 gallons.  Big savings!  Check with your local water department for recommendations.