How 0.8 GPF toilets and water-saving fixtures can turn a quick ROI

Pictured to the side is a drawing of a typical 1880s flushing water closet with a high-tank toilet, placed high on the wall to maximize water’s gravitational force. Image: Vintage Bathroom Interior published in 1877-1893 by J.L. Mott Iron Works, enhanced by Rawpixel is licensed by CC0

Multifamily properties across the U.S. built before 1994 installed 3.5 GPF (gallon per flush) toilets that rely on a Victorian-Era flush system and waste massive amounts of drinkable water. In many cases, those same properties still have these wasteful toilets installed today.

With toilets accounting for 30% of the total water usage in an average home (EPA), it’s no secret that water-conserving toilets can significantly impact the environment while helping to save money on residential water bills. Luckily, innovations and improvements continue to be made in the toilet industry, with 1.6 GPF toilets quickly gaining popularity (and are now mandated from Congress). Today, the ideal toilet model is even more efficient at 0.8 GPF.

How did we get from more than 3 GPF down to 0.8 GPF? Hold on to your toilet seat, here’s a quick timeline of the toilet (inspired by Old House Onlineand HGTV.com):

  • The 1590s – Sir John Harington (godson of Queen Elizabeth I) introduced the first flush toilet called the Ajax. It washed into a cesspool below, leaving a stench that outdid the convenience.
  • The 1880s – three hundred years later, working toilets were wed to working sewers which ended up being one of the most important inventions of the 19th century; wash closets became popular with high-tank toilets and woodwork akin to a parlor
  • 1900-1910 – washdown and siphon-jet models were created, high-tanks transitioned to low tanks, and the ornamentation disappeared
  • 1910 – by now toilets are similar to form and function as they are today.
  • The 1990s – water conservation laws start to come into effect leading to the creation of the low-flow toilet as the law mandated only 1.6 (GPF) be used. At first, no real innovations were made, manufacturers used just half the water, and people noticed the flush was no longer effective when it came to ridding it of waste.
  • The 2000’s – manufacturers like Toto have made vast improvements in “high-efficiency” low-flush toilets, building a better trapway and larger flush valve. Australia’s Caroma brand pioneered a dual-flush system to conserve water and add efficiency–giving you the option of flushing liquid waste (0.8 GPF) with one button and solid waste (1.6 GPF) with another. EcoSystems often uses the 0.8 GPF Niagara Stealth ultra high-efficiency toilet in our multifamily bathroom upgrades–it is high-power, low maintenance, no-waste and has a noise-canceling tank.

As we continue ridding multifamily complexes of old and wasteful toilets and fixtures, we are replacing these with ultra high-efficiency toilets, such as the  0.8 GPF Niagara Stealth toilet and PROFLOⓇ Greenlee 0.8 GPF toilet. Both of these models can reduce water usage up to 60 percent every year, resulting in a savings of more than 13,000 gallons of water annually. Recently, we wrapped up the largest continuous water conservation retrofitspanning 23 multifamily properties and 12,668 bathrooms. By upgrading to 0.8 GPF toilets and water-saving fixtures, we saved 175.8 million gallons of water and $1.2 million in costs—an estimated 38% reduction in water usage and a 34% decrease in cost.  

Decreasing the amount of fresh water used with every flush–no matter which toilet you choose–is one of the fastest and easiest ways to not only conserve fresh water but reduce your water bill and bring your bathroom into the 21st Century. With all of the toilet innovations that have been brought to life over the last 20 years, we can’t imagine what the next 20 will bring–perhaps 0.4 GPF?

About EcoSystems 
EcoSystems partners with property owners to conserve billions of gallons of water and millions of dollars—one toilet, showerhead, and faucet at a time. Our mission: to provide solutions that promote smarter, more efficient uses of water and energy, and empower people and businesses by eliminating waste and cutting costs. In a matter of weeks, EcoSystems helps properties save up to 55% on sink usage, 40% on shower usage, and 50-75 percent on toilet usage. For more information, visit https://www.ecosystems.com.