Hardware show: Toilet upgrades that lower your water bill

Consumer Reports News: May 10, 2011 05:43 PM

You don’t have to buy a new toilet to get the benefit of the latest water-saving features. The makers of two retrofit kits currently on display at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas promise homeowners that they’ll save on their water bills with just a small investment of time and money.

The HydroRight ($24.99) and Dual Flush ($39.98 at Home Depot) kits replace the inner workings of a toilet with dual flush units. One flush setting uses a smaller amount of water to remove liquid waste and paper—the setting needed most of the time. The second produces a fuller flush for solids. The partial-flush setting of the Dual Flush, made by Fluidmaster, cuts the gallons-per-flush level in half, so a 1.6-gpf toilet that meets current federal standards will use only 0.8 gpf in that mode. The HydroRight, made by MSJI Inc., uses a third to half the water on the partial-flush setting. Both units can be adjusted to use more or less water per flush.

In Consumer Reports tests of toilets, some partial-flush settings undid water savings by requiring multiple flushes to completely clear waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, replacing a pre-1995 toilet, which consumes 3.5 gallons per flush, with a 1.28-gpf toilet can save a family of four up to $2,000 on water bills over the course of the toilet’s lifespan. How much you save depends on your household size and the cost of water in your area.

Eliminating leaks caused by a faulty toilet flapper can save an estimated 200 gallons of water a day, says the EPA. For that, MSJI offers the HydroClean toilet fill valve ($12.99), which it claims detects leaks and signals when one is found.

For a modest amount of money, you can replace your old leaky toilet with one that did well in our tests such as the 1.6-gpf Mansfield Alto 137-160, $150, or the 1.28-gpf Kohler Cimarron K-3609, which sells for twice that.

Gian Trotta

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