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An illustration of water-saving toilets

Water-Saving Toilets for $250 or Less

To lower your water bill, you don’t have to sacrifice performance

Toilets account for more water use, by far, than any other water-consuming product in your home. And if you still have an old toilet that uses 6 gallons per flush, you’re not only wasting water but also flushing money down the drain—up to $110 a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Federal standards require new toilets to use 1.6 gallons per flush, and toilets that qualify for the EPA's more stringent WaterSense designation use only 1.28 gallons. Is that enough water to do the job?

“Many of the 1.28-gallon toilet models have excellent or very good performance for solid waste,” says John Banta, the Consumer Reports’ engineer who oversees our toilet testing. “In our tests, many WaterSense models perform just as well as—if not better than—some higher-gallon toilets.”

To achieve such outsized performance, Banta explains, WaterSense-certified models have larger valves and traps that allow more water to flow out at once, delivering an extra push to clear waste from the bowl.

The savings over an old 6-gallon toilet could pay for a new model in just a couple of years. CR’s tests turned up models that cost $250 or less that earned a Very Good or Excellent score for removing solid waste and leaving a clean bowl behind.

How We Test Toilets
In our toilet tests, we use a water-flow meter to confirm the amount of water that each flush delivers to the bowl. Simulated solid waste—an assortment of weighted sponges and plastic beads—is then randomly dumped into the toilet bowl to replicate actual use. The testers then measure how much of the waste is left after one flush.

To test how well a toilet cleans its bowl, CR testers leave a measured paint swatch on the inside of the bowl to see whether the toilet is actually sending water all the way around the interior when it’s flushed. If a lot of the paint remains on the side of the bowl, then—you guessed it—the toilet isn’t so great at cleaning the inside of the bowl.

That’s it for general potty talk. The five well-rated WaterSense toilets in alphabetical order below all cost $250 or less. For more choices, check our full toilet ratings and recommendations.

American Standard Champion 4 Max 2586.128ST.020

American Standard Champion 4 Max...

A good choice overall, the American Standard Champion 4 Max performed well at both solid waste removal and bowl cleaning, and it’s quieter than some of the lower-scoring models we tested. This toilet also resists soil and odor, and drainline clogs. The manufacturer claims that its EverClean surface technology hinders stain and odor-causing bacteria, mold, and mildew. It’s a few inches taller than a regular toilet—they call it “comfort height”—and meets standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It comes in white, black, bone, and linen.

    Delta Prelude C43901-WH

    Delta Prelude C43901-WH

    The Delta Prelude is another good choice and performed well at both solid waste removal and bowl cleaning. It’s one of the quieter models we tested. It resists soil and odor but not always drainline clogs, a concern if your sewer line has a long way to travel to the street. The manufacturer states that its SmartFit technology helps keep fasteners from being over-tightened, an age-old problem with toilets that can lead to potential leaks. The Delta is also ADA compliant. It comes only in white.

      Delta Turner C43908-WH

      Delta Turner C43908-WH

      If you’re looking for a quiet toilet with reliable bowl cleaning and solid-waste removal, consider the Delta Turner. But it’s not as good as its brandmate at resisting soil, odor, and drainline clogs. This comfort-height toilet is ADA compliant. It comes only in white.

        Kohler Cimarron The Complete Solution K-11451

        Kohler Cimarron The Complete...

        The Kohler Cimarron The Complete Solution is capable at both solid waste removal and bowl cleaning, and is relatively quiet. It resists soil and odor but is not as good as some other models at resisting drainline clogs, which can be a concern if your waste line travels a long distance to the sewer system. This comfort-height model meets ADA requirements. It comes only in white.

          Kohler Highline K-3658

          Kohler Highline K-3658

          A good all-around model, the Kohler Highline performed well at both solid waste removal and bowl cleaning, and is relatively quiet. It resists soil, odor, and drainline clogs, so it’s a good bet for any bathroom in the house. The comfort-height toilet is ADA compliant. It also comes in biscuit, almond, and black.

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            Haniya Rae

            I​’m interested in the intersection between design and technology​—whether for ​drywall or robotic vacuums—and how the resulting combination affects consumers. I’ve written about consumer advocacy issues for publications like The Atlantic, PC Magazine, and Popular Science, and now I’m happy to be tackling the topic for CR. For updates, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@haniyarae).