How Low Can You Go?
A few months ago, I was speaking to a group of contractors about green plumbing. Also on the agenda was my good friend, John Watson, from Sloan Valve Co.
John and I have known each other for many years. We work together on various standards and plumbing code committees.
As we were speaking before our respective presentations, he asked how green I was in my own home. I let him know about my two 1.6-gpf water closets. One is a tank-type, the other a pressure-assist model.
John said I had to get up to speed. I was flushing too much water down the drain. “Why not install a 1.0-gpf water closet?” he asked.
Good question. I really didn’t have a good answer, other than to say the water closets work fine. However, one really wasn’t working the way it did when I originally installed it. Perhaps it was time for a change.
So, after receiving the challenge, I replaced my 1.6-gpf pressure-assist water closet with a 1.0-gpf version. With a lowering of the flush volume by 0.6 gallons, the question became, “How low can you go?” After all, the flush volume just dropped 37.5 percent.
This fixture is not just a high-efficiency toilet, but a super-HET. The 1.0 gpf outperforms the standard HET. It saves an additional 17.5 percent of water over the standard HET, reducing the gpf from 1.28 to 1.0.
Out Of The LabIt’s one thing to work with low-flow water closets in the laboratory, but it’s another to experiment in your own home. But I was up for the challenge.
The first thing I noticed was how much quieter the 1.0 pressure-assist flush was compared to the 1.6 gpf (my 1.6 gpf was already a quiet model). But this new water closet was even quieter. To put it into perspective, the 1.0-gpf version is about as loud as a tank-type water closet.
There is no denying there is a noticeable difference in the flush volume. It doesn’t take long for one gallon of water to do the flushing, especially when it is under pressure.
Flushing the yellow is the easy part. The real question is, how does it do with the solids? While the flush didn’t look like much, I was curious how the new water closet would fare. To my surprise, it flushed the solids very well. The solids and paper disappeared on the first flush. There were no telltale signs that the bowl wasn’t flushing on the first attempt.
All this testing didn’t save any water but it did answer a lot of questions. Now it was time for the real test - my family.
The love of my life, Judie, is very tolerant of my plumbing experiments. However, she does want a water closet that works. I tried to impress her with how different the flush was compared to the previous water closet. She was unimpressed. When you get the, “Yeah, it looks interesting,” what she really means is, “You get off on this stuff. All I want is a toilet that works.”
My daughter was equally unimpressed. But her boyfriend showed an interest. I guess it was a guy thing in our household.
The real test came when the water closet was put into normal use. While I was paying attention to how the fixture was performing, my family and friends were just going to the bathroom. After the first month, there were no stoppages, no complaints. It just worked.
I figured a more rigorous test would be our New Year’s Eve party. But that, too, went off without a hitch. None of our guests noticed the new water closet. Of course, after it was used, I proudly announced the water closet was the newest, latest and greatest water-saving toilet. My guests were not impressed.
So the fixture continues to be used in our bathroom. People continue to use it and flush after completing their business. Even though the users don’t know we have become super-green, I do.
My one observation has been that while everyone wants to be green, they also want things to be normal. Green is good, as long as it doesn’t come with sacrifices. Save water, save water treatment, save energy, but give me the normal comforts I expect.
Of course, that is the beauty of going green in plumbing. The industry is providing a way to be green without sacrificing the normal comforts that we have become accustomed to. We can reduce the water consumption on a water closet by 37.5 percent and still provide the same look to the fixture, the same water spot in the bowl and the same flushing of all the contents. What more can you ask for?
Perhaps only the owners understand they are going green. They still feel better about it. I feel good that I have lowered the water consumption on my water closet. I am also proud I gave my family a quality plumbing installation.
Selling green is partly up to you. Don’t be afraid to offer top-quality, water-efficient fixtures. They provide the comfort everyone expects in a plumbing system.
I recommend you give the 1.0-gpf pressure-assist water closets a try. They work great, are very quiet and save more water than the standard 1.28 HET. Plus, there are many manufacturers to choose from.
A big thanks to John Watson who challenged me to go even greener. He was right. The 1.0-gpf pressure-assist water closets are a great way to go green.