New EPA-Certified Toilets Address Water Shortages
Along with its final specifications for the newest water-saving toilets that use less than 1.3 gallons per flush, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in January issued efficiency and performance criteria for toilets to be certified to carry the WaterSense label.
WaterSense is a voluntary public-private partnership that promotes consumer use of water-efficient products, certification for water industry professionals and innovation in water-efficient product manufacturing.
"The WaterSense label will help consumers identify high performing, water-efficient products," said EPA assistant administrator Benjamin H. Grumbles in a press release announcing the new specs. "By purchasing WaterSense-labeled plumbing fixtures, consumers can help protect the water supply and their wallets."
The lowest-priced WaterSense-labeled unit costs about $225, or $100 more than a typical builder-grade unit. However, with estimated annual savings of $50 on water bills, the additional cost is paid back in two years, which is well within the payback limits for efficient products supported by the National Association of Home Builders.
"It's important for housing to stay affordable, especially for the first-time home buyer. For that reason, we usually say that these efficiency improvements should take no more than about seven years to pay for themselves," said Ray Tonjes, a home builder in Austin, Texas and NAHB green building subcommittee chair. "The real issue is that water conservation is becoming an increasingly important concern in many areas of the country, and it's certainly an issue here in Texas."
The EPA said the new toilets are the product of fluid dynamics research conducted over the past six years. While the exteriors of the new toilets differ little from traditional models, interior redesign and new mechanical approaches have significantly improved flow and reduced water usage. The current generation of toilets typically accounts for one-third of home water consumption.
WaterSense-labeled toilets are certified by independent laboratory testing to meet rigorous criteria for both performance and efficiency. Only high-efficiency toilets that complete the third-party certification process can earn the WaterSense label.
The EPA said companies that manufacture, sell or distribute household plumbing fixtures are encouraged to join the WaterSense program. For more information call (800) 368-5242 ext. 8366.