Each household member flushes the toilet four or more times daily on average, accounting for more than 20 gallons of water used per person. If the toilets in the house were installed before 1994, that can mean up to 40 percent of the household's total use of water and a hefty chunk of the monthly water bill.
Today's newer models are more efficient, but there's another way to reduce water use even further. Caroma, an Australian company, offers dual flush toilets, a technology it introduced more than 25 years ago as a water-saving means for Australia, the earth's driest inhabited continent. It is an utterly plausible concept, with two buttons atop the tank to activate two different flushing volumes. This system allows bathroom-goers to choose using either a small volume for flushing liquids or a larger volume for solids.
"The water savings are humongous," said Melissa Prater, specialty assistant manager at Yardbirds Home Center in Alamo.
She said Yardbirds can special order dual-flush toilets but doesn't carry any in stock because the higher price means there isn't too much demand for them. A white dual-flush toilet goes for $688 ($900 for specialty colors) compared to about $300 for a regular toilet. But with half the water per flush, people can end up saving money, said Prater. It's an investment.
On the Caroma models, the flushing volumes are 0.8 and 1.6 gallons per flush, the lowest in the industry. Because of bathroom habits, the smaller volume typically would be used four times more than the larger flush. The choice thus gives a direct way to conserve water even further than on a single flush model. The increased water savings leads to significant financial savings as well.
The rest of the world now has caught on to this conservation-minded approach. Today, there are more dual flush toilets sold around the world than the single-flush models which predominate in North America. But, people here are starting to learn about and change to the two-button toilet.
"Everything's kind of going green so I can see the tides turning and us going more toward the lower water consumption," Prater said.
Water utilities around the globe are big proponents of dual flush technology. In fact, dual flush is credited with significantly decreasing water demand in Australia. Periodic drought there has caused critical water shortages, leading to severe water restrictions in major cities. Dual flush has helped ease this problem and could have similar positive effects in the United States.
A dual flush toilet should fit seamlessly into a home's decor and not require changes to a home's existing plumbing network. The look of Caroma's product line is very similar to traditional single-level toilets, but their efficiency and performance have allowed the brand to develop a worldwide reputation as the water-saving toilet that is nearly impossible to clog. That suits today's marketplace, which is increasingly willing to "go green," yet demands product performance too.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
Meghan Neal contributed to this story.