Saving water equals saving money, and toilets typically use a whole lot of water. In fact, about one quarter of a home’s entire water usage is from toilet use. Buying a low-flow toilet can get expensive, but you can convert your existing toilet into a low-flow one for very little (or for free!). There are a couple of ways to do this.
The first and cheapest way is to install some sort of weight in the toilet’s tank. The weight displaces the water, taking up space, which means that less water is required to fill the tank. Here’s one way to accomplish that:
Find an empty, half-gallon container such as a plastic milk jug. Just make sure it’s waterproof. Remove all stickers or labels from the jug. Then fill it about halfway with something heavy – marbles or gravel are good possibilities. Put the cap back on the container tightly. Then, open up the back of your toilet and set the jug carefully down into the water. Be sure it’s not obstructing any of the components of the toilet “guts.”
This simple conversion saves around 70 gallons of water a month per person (flushing 5 times a day). A note about the plastic jug, though – check it periodically to make sure it has not shifted. If it is too near the flapper, it can negatively affect the flapper’s function.
Another option is to purchase a dual-flush kit and install it on your existing toilet. Dual-flush kits cost around $30 and can be installed by the homeowner. A dual-flush kit is much cheaper than a full-fledged, dual-flush toilet. It is called “dual-flush” because the homeowner has two choices of flush power.
The liquid waste or “rinse flush” setting uses very little water; it does not send a hard swirl of water down the way a conventional toilet does. It uses just the water in the bowl, about 3/4 of a gallon (compared to the 3-5 gallons per flush of a conventional toilet). The solid waste or “full flush” setting uses the water in the bowl and a minimal amount from the tank, or about a gallon and a half.
Of course, you’ll save water, and depending on where you live, the amount of money you save could be significant. Using the 70-gallons-per-person monthly water savings noted above, a low-flow toilet can save 840 gallons of water per year per person. For a family of 4, that’s a savings of 3,360 gallons a year. That’s a lot of water! If your municipal system charges, say, 5 cents a gallon, you could save almost $170 a year.