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2 CREATE A LOW-FLOW TOILET

This action focuses on reducing the water used each day for flushing the toilet.

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why?

half-gallon jug in the toilet tankToilets account for almost 40% of the water we use in our homes, toilets installed before 1994 use 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush, and as much as 20 gallons per person per day (Arrowhead Water Quality Team of MN data). The average person flushes the toilet five times daily. With an average flush using 3.5 gallons this adds up to 17.5 gallons of water used each day to flush human waste. Because we are not drinking water from our toilets, it is not necessary to clean this water to the same degree as water used for other purposes. However, because toilet water is piped into our homes in the same way as all other water uses, it uses a huge and unnecessary amount of energy for this cleaning and transportation.

Replacing an old toilet with a new ultra low-flow model will reduce each flush down to 1.6 gallons per flush. However, this is not a feasible solution for many people in the short term. This one-time, simple action reduces the amount of water and energy needed to flush a toilet by about half.


how to do this action:

DETERMINE GALLONS PER FLUSH (gpf):

This first part of this action will be determining the gallons per flush (gpf) of your toilet.

Pre-1994 residential and pre-1997 commercial flush toilets use 3.4 US gallons (13 L) of water per flush (gpf or lpf). In 1992, the United States Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which mandated that beginning in 1994 common flush toilets use only 1.6 US gallons (6.1 L). In response to the Act, manufacturers produced low-flow toilets, which many consumers did not like because they often required more than one flush to remove solids. People unhappy with the reduced performance of the low-flow toilets resorted to driving across the border to Canada or Mexico, or buying salvaged toilets from older buildings. Manufacturers responded to consumers’ complaints by improving the toilets. The improved products are generally identified as high efficiency toilets or HETs. HETs possess an effective flush volume of 1.3 US gallons (4.9 L) or less. HETs may be single-flush or dual-flush. A dual-flush toilet permits its user to choose between two amounts of water. Some HETs are pressure-assisted (or power-assisted or pump-assisted or vacuum-assisted).

This will give you a rough idea of your gallons per flush, but if you are unsure you can also find gallons per flush in a more accurate way: The pdf found here walks through some possibilities.

CREATE YOUR LOW-FLOW TOILET

Putting a milk container in the toilet tank displaces water creating a 'toilet dam' and thus uses less with each flush. By putting a half-gallon container in the tank you can reduce each flush to 3 gallons, or, with a one-gallon container each flush will be reduced to around 2.5 gallons. Any kind of container which can be sealed can work for this (empty laundry detergent, milk or juice). Place some small rocks in the jug and fill the remainder with water before sealing and placing in the toilet tank. Be sure the jug is not in the way of the arm or chain of the toilet. Some toilet tanks will only work with smaller containers, while others can continue to operate fine with a one-gallon container or larger.


what will be measured?

KEY QUESTIONS

QUANTITATIVE QUESTION: How much water can be saved by creating a low-flow toilet?

QUALITATIVE QUESTION: How does the experience of creating a low flow toilet affect your happiness, convenience, health and costs?

BASELINE WEEK TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
During the baseline tracking week before the project begins, use the corresponding spreadsheet (WTR2_BASELINE) to determine how much water is used for each flush. Collect supplies to create the low-flow toilet.

QUALITATIVE


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria on the spreadsheet (WTR2_BASELINE) as it relates to how much water you currently use for toilet flushes:

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
Use the corresponding spreadsheet (WTR2_QUANTITATIVE) to record the following information:

  • (1) Enter your previous gallons per flush (GPF) from the BASELINE spreadsheet.
  • (2) Enter the size of the container you used to create your low-flow toilet. Your new GPF will be calculated.
  • (3) Enter your average daily flushes from the BASELINE spreadsheet. Your water saved per day will be calculated.

QUALITATIVE
Part 1 - Ranking


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria at the end of the project on the spreadsheet (WTR2_QUALITATIVE) Your answers should not be rated in comparison to your baseline week, but in general as a reflection of how you are feeling.

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

Part 2 - Blogging
Keep a narrative log of your experiences as you implement this action and how it has affected your life. Some of the following questions might be helpful as you reflect upon your experiences.

Was it difficult or easy to create your low-flow toilet? What tips would you give to future participants choosing this action?


resources

City of San Bernadino, Home Indoor Water Saving Tips.

ACTION SPREADSHEETS

The spreadsheets referred to above can be found in the Excel file at the following link:

WTR2_Create a Low-Flow Toilet Spreadsheet

If you prefer to enter your responses by hand, printable PDFs of each spreadsheet can be found at the following links (at the end of the project, all data will have to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet):

WTR2_BASELINE
WTR2_QUANTITATIVE
WTR2_QUALITATIVE