by Keith Bancroft
We’ve all heard the complaints about this or that “low flow” product that uses less water but just doesn’t perform very well. Many of these problems occurred because manufacturers of water-using fixtures (i.e. showerheads, toilets, etc.) were forced to make changes to reduce the water use of their products as a result of the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Although many products performed well, the few that didn’t (especially toilets) gave the term “low flow” a black eye.
About 5 years ago, forward-thinking toilet manufacturers started introducing high-efficiency toilets (known as HETs) into the American market (they have been used in Europe and Australia for over a decade). These models use 20% less water than the current standard—about 1.3 gallons per flush versus the standard 1.6 gallons.
Because manufacturers were the driving force behind this “new” technology (as opposed to playing “catch up” and trying to modify their products to meet a set of new standards) the toilets have excellent performance standards—they often have better flushing performance than many of the 1.6 models. However, like any product, some are going to work better than others. With over 200 models of high-efficiency toilets now available, how do you determine which one to buy? It’s easy: Just look for the WaterSense label.
WaterSense is a program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that helps consumers identify water-efficient products and programs. It does for water-efficient products what EnergyStar has done for energy-efficient ones. The WaterSense label indicates that these products and programs meet water efficiency and performance criteria. WaterSense-labeled products will perform well, help save money, and encourage innovation in manufacturing.
As of July 1, 2009, MMWD began offering $250 rebates for customers who purchase a WaterSense-labeled high-efficiency toilet when replacing an old toilet designed to use 3.5 gallons or more per flush. Any toilet on the WaterSense list qualifies for the rebate program. For more information, visit our HET Rebate Program web page, or call (415) 945-1527.