Since the law passed in January 1994, any new toilets installed in our homes have to be of the low-flow variety using no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. And lately, we have seen WaterSense labeled models which use less than 1.28 gallons per flush, an even better improvement over older toilets which used 3.5 gallons of water per flush. The law requiring 1.6 gallons per flush was designed to both conserve water (our most precious resource) and reduce pressure on municipal waste treatment facilities, but even with these conservation efforts in place the flushing of toilets in the United States uses billions gallons of water every single day. That’s a lot of fresh water being used just to flush our waste away! With 884 million people (approximately one in eight) around the world lacking access to safe water and over 3.5 million dying each year from water-related diseases, we should always be on the lookout for ways to save even more fresh water from going down the drain (or toilet, in this case), and that’s where the dual-flush toilet comes into the equation. Popular around the world in commercial projects and water-starved nations for years now, these toilets handle solid and liquid waste with different amounts of water per flush and easy DIY kits are available for installation at home from your local hardware store.
I just found this Dual Flush Converter kit at Ace Hardware which retails for just $22.99. Installation is a quick 15 minutes without any tools and doesn’t require the removal of the tank, and it converts a standard flush toilet to a dual flush unit, providing 2 buttons for flushing — a regular flush and a “quick flush” which uses up to 70% less water.
By installing one of these dual flush converters in your toilet(s) at home, you could save thousands of gallons of water each year along with the added bonus of financial savings on your water bill every month. I plan on asking my landlord if it would be OK to install one here just to be on the safe side, but I don’t see how he would care one bit since he pays for the water bill. Living in the desert reminds one of how precious water is, and since the EPA estimates that you will flush your toilet about 140,000 times over the course of your life, every little bit of water savings you can manage pays off for you and everyone else sharing this planet. So after you’ve done all the faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads you can do, give some thought to installing a dual flush toilet or converter. A little effort goes a long way!
Here are some useful facts about water from AllAboutWater.org for reference:
– Somewhere between 70 and 75 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water.
– The earth is a closed system, similar to a terrarium, meaning that it rarely loses or gains extra matter. The same water that existed on the earth millions of years ago is still present today.
– The average person in the United States uses anywhere from 80-100 gallons of water per day. Flushing the toilet actually takes up the largest amount of this water.
– Of all the water on the earth, humans can used only about three tenths of a percent of this water. Such usable water is found in groundwater aquifers, rivers, and freshwater lakes.
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