March 15, 2009

Should you get a new toilet to save money?

It might seem odd to think that a new toilet could save you money but it can. Every time you flush your toilet you're spending money on water. The cost of the water used isn't that much per flush really but it adds up over time. Plus of course you are wasting water which can be a big problem in areas with water shortages.

I've talked about EnergyStar in the past. EnergyStar is probably familiar to most people and its the EPA's program to test and label appliances that are energy saving. But I just heard about another program that the EPA has called WaterSense. The WaterSense program does the same thing but for water savings.

An EPA WaterSense toilet is a toilet which uses 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf) or less. Normal toilets sold today use 1.6 gpf.

You can get a WaterSense listed toilet at Home Depot for prices in the $100-$150 range or more. So the prices for the high efficiency toilets are not much more than a regular 1.6 gpf toilet. If you're going to upgrade the toilet then you may as well look for a WaterSense product since the costs aren't much different and they are 20% more efficient.

The Watersense site has a calculator you can use to see how much money you'd save by installing a newer toilet. Keep in mind that the calculator isn't exact since they use assumptions with estimates for the savings and cost of the water. Your toilet may use more or less water than they assume and your water costs may be lower or higher than they assume. They are assuming water cost of about $6/ 1000 gallons and thats a lot more than my utility charges. Here our water is $1-$2 / 748 gallons. So the calculator is about 3 times more. To get a more exact figure I'd recommend you check your water bill to figure your actual water cost per additional gallon used.

Looking at some examples: 1) Say you have a 20 year old home with original toilets and 4 people live there. The calculator says that you'll save $99 in one year and conserve 16,000 gallons of water. 2) If you're a single person in an older home with a 30+ year old toilet then you could save $14 a year and conserve 6,900 gallons. 3) Consider two people living in a house built in 1985 with original toilets. They could save $50 a year and conserve 8,200 gallons of water.

Generally the older toilet is then the more worthwhile replacement will be. If your toilet was made after 1994 then it is already a 1.6 gpf model. That means you'll save a lot less by switching over to Watersense. But if your toilet is over 15 years old then it is likely worth the cost to switch to new Watersense toilet.

One major consideration to keep in mind is the number of toilets you'd have to replace. The calculator is figuring the savings based on replacing ALL of the toilets in your home. So it is going to be more expensive and less ROI if your home has more bathrooms. For example in my home the calculator says I'll save $50 a year by getting new toilets but we have 2 bathrooms so our cost would be over $200 for the toilets. Your payback period would be over 4 years. If we only had one bathroom then the payback period would be just 2 years.

I'm guessing most homes have 2 toilets so I could estimate replacement cost would be around $300. If your toilets are at least 15 years 0ld and you have the national average of 2.6 people in the home then your savings will be around $64 for a year. This mans your payback period is less than 5 years.

If your current toilet is at least 15 years old and theres 2 or more people in your home then its probably a good investment to install new water saving toilets.

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