When you go shopping for a toilet these days, you’re likely to see stickers with a droplet logo and the “WaterSense: meets EPA criteria” label. Since they’re increasingly common, we thought it would be helpful to give you a quick overview on what the WaterSense program is, what it means for toilets, and why you should use it as a benchmark when you shop!
The WaterSense program was started by the EPA a number of years ago, and is a marker of water efficiency. You’ll see it used to certify toilets, faucets, urinals, sprinklers, and other fixtures. If you’re familiar with the Energy Star program for appliances and electrical fixtures, you already have a basic grasp of this program. Just as Energy Star labels mark products that will use less energy, WaterSense labels designate those that will save you water.
By law, all faucets, shower heads, toilets and urinals in this country have to conform with set flow rates. They’re designed to curb excessive water usage and reduce waste. All manufacturers are supposed to conform to these basic guidelines. That’s why even toilets that don’t meet the stricter criteria use as little as 1/6 as much water per flush as older models.
Currently, the legal flow rate for toilets is set at 1.6 GPF (gallons per flush). Even updating an older toilet to this baseline standard can save you 13,000 gallons per year on your water bill, a savings that could add up to over $100 knocked off the invoice.
The WaterSense program encourages companies to reduce usage by a further 20% or so. Certified products released after 2014 must use 1.28 GPF or less (some older products are labeled WaterSense, but only meet the older 1.6 GPM standard. That’s confusing for now, but most of these older models are being phased out). The EPA estimates that if all the old, wasteful toilets in this country
WaterSense labels don’t just mark out products that use less water, though. The certification process also involves performance testing, to ensure that the product still performs in a way that will be practical for consumers. You can read more about the program here.
There are lots of reasons to shop specifically for products labelled with the designation. For one thing, you’ll save water, which lowers your utility bill. You’ll also be doing your part to conserve water, something that’s increasingly important even in the developed world.
There’s another financial incentive, too! Many water utilities offer rebates and vouchers to encourage people to buy efficient products. So, you can usually get a WaterSense toilet at a significant discount.
Most importantly, from a consumer standpoint, you’ll be getting a throne that’s independently tested to work well. As toilet reviewers, we know better than anyone that a lot of low-flow toilets are miserable to use. Certified models are overwhelmingly better than the competition.
So, consider a WaterSense toilet when you buy your new throne! We have plenty of recommendations here, and nearly all of the toilets we recommend meet the certifications (the rest still come in at the 1.6 GPM EPA standard).
You should also consider the WaterSense program the next time you’re in the market for shower heads or faucets! The savings are actually greater with both of those, since you use them for hot water as well as cold/tap. By cutting your usage, you can save both on your water bill and on your gas/electricity bill.