A green product worth recommending

Readers of WUWT know that while I have my doubts about the magnitude of AGW and express skepticism and sometimes outright disdain for certain green schemes and products, some of which work about as well as the photo at left, I’ll push a good idea when I see it.

Readers have also seen when I embrace and recommend practical products, especially when the save energy and resources and can pay for themselves. This is one of those products.

Last year when I was touring Australia, I marveled at a  simple piece of engineering designed to save water, something obviously necessary in Australia as weather/rainfall patterns differ. It was a simple case of “necessity was the mother of invention”. Living in California, that also has water problems (but not this year) I thought to myself, it would be a great thing to bring back to the USA. Unfortunately I had not the time or resources to develop it myself.

What was this that had me so intrigued? Well, to tell you the truth, I found myself taking apart a toilet in a hotel room in Emerald and photographing the workings. Why? Read on.

Where I live in Chico, California, we depend on ground water wells. Unfortunately, the water table has steadily dropped over the last 150 years as the town has grown, and even though there are years of upticks in recharge, the overall trend is down. Water saving plans that have been suggested include the ubiquitous “brick or water bottles in the toilet tank” suggestion as seen below.

But, given that California hasn’t built any new water storage facilities in 30+ years, the suggestions ring hollow.

What I found in Emerald Australia (and all over Australia I later found) is now available here, and not only saves water, but money too. It’s a win-win. I looked for this product for over a year and when I found it this month on Amazon.com I bought one, installed it and  tried it myself, and I’m more than pleased with the result, hence my recommendation.

What is it? A retrofit dual flush system for toilet tanks. Low flow for #1, Full flow for #2.

Yeah I know, it’s hard to get excited about that, except when you do the math and realize how much water and money you are flushing down the toilet needlessly each day. Here in California they get you coming and going. Water use and sewer use, plus loads of taxes and tiers if you go beyond expected usage. Besides watering lawns and taking showers, there’s very little else where water use can be conserved . The toilet is an obvious choice since it gets heavy use.

The problem with the old flush toilet is the mechanism, which is a “one flush fits all” design that hasn’t much changed in the last 100 years. Here’s a typical toilet tank setup.

Note the red flapper, that’s where this new product fits in.

In a nutshell, here’s how it works:

  1. The flapper is removed, the handle and chain are removed
  2. A new all-in-one float valve unit is attached to the flapper post and seated onto the flapper seal.
  3. A new two button flush button replaces the handle, and a remote cable (like an emergency brake cable) goes to the new all-in-one float valve unit.

Install takes under 10 minutes, no tools required, and it works as advertised. The design for retrofit is dirt simple. After getting the first one, and seeing how well it worked, I bought three more for my home and office.

Here’s a pictorial of what it looks like:

Here’s a video from the company about it. There a bit of sensationalism in the imagery, but otherwise it is accurate based on my experience with the product.

Here’s the product flyer:

The kit is pretty simple, and assembles without any need for tools. Pictorial instructions in English and Spanish are provided.

Price? Less than $20, and at that price it will pay for itself in a few months, depending on usage. This system is guaranteed for five years, so I’m pretty sure I’ll not only get my investment back, but a significant return on it. Plus, my kids like it and they were fascinated watching dad replace this thing and now having a pushbutton 1/2 instead of a handle.

Want one? Available here at Amazon Get it, highly recommended.

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June 14, 2011 1:17 am

These things are common in Britain (the east side of which is a dry country).

Alan Ogden
June 14, 2011 1:25 am

Made in the UK by Fluidmaster. I’ve had one for several years now and the product can be found in most DIY outlets. What I don’t understand is how it works, how does the ‘dial amount’ function on the flap valve? All I know is that it just works very well.

Patrick Kelly
June 14, 2011 1:29 am

Qquite surprised to learh that this is a novelty in the States. Not only have they been around for years in Australia but they are compulsory for new installations.

Chris Korvin
June 14, 2011 1:32 am

I have one of these new fangled water saving toilets. It works just fine except for one thing…I have to flush 2 or 3 times to clear the bowl. Not a success.

June 14, 2011 1:33 am

Until he number 2 button breaks and your left pushing the number 1 button until number 2 disappears.

shortie of greenbank
June 14, 2011 1:36 am

In Oz before the dual flush we also had a saying:
If its yellow let it mellow
If its brown flush it down
I grew up on tank supplied water and given the sometimes less than drenching rain you can get you make do with less as usual. The dual flush has been in Australia since the 70s I believe (it wasn’t until I moved out of home in the 90s that I had a home with one though). There are also those that have hand basins on top of the toilet so you wash your hands after using the toilet and refil the cistern while you are at it… dual use, dual flush toilets!

Ken Hall
June 14, 2011 1:37 am

The problem I have found is not how much water is used in a flush, but the design of bowls which leave a “dead” area in the middle of the bowl where water merely rotates like a ball and anything caught there does not get flushed away. I am exasperated at the number of times I have used toilets and when I flush having to wait and watch a ball of paper go round and round and round and not go anywhere. This requires several flushes or the application of a bucket of water down the bowl.
You can have all the clever technology in the world, but if the water does not flush the effluence away, what is the point?

Les Johnson
June 14, 2011 1:38 am

This is very common in Austria, Germany and the former Yugoslavia. I did not realize how easy it was to change, though.
Thanks, Anthony, I will buy some for my house, as I am flush with cash right now…

Philip Thomas
June 14, 2011 1:39 am

I have one in UK but my very young children can no longer use the flush because it takes a huge amount of finger pressure, so I give it a fail.

June 14, 2011 1:41 am

I can’t believe you haven’t heard of these in the USA. These are common in normal toilet seats in Finland, two buttons on top for different amounts of water. No need for any DIY stuff.

Leon Brozyna
June 14, 2011 1:41 am

Well, that’s a sight better than that California motto, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.” Who thought that one up? A man? His wife probably just loved him for that one, as she probably got stuck with cleaning the never clean toilet bowl.

James of the West
June 14, 2011 1:43 am

My dual flush toilet was installed in 1998 and I havent had to take the lid off my cistern yet and i have 4 people using it daily…I’d say they are quite reliable.

Steve H
June 14, 2011 1:53 am

Anthony – it’s a good idea if used correctly. Problems do arise when you see that a number 1 flush can remove a number two! Solids NEED a much larger volume of water to travel down the sewer and not stop – leading to blockages in the future and the services of a plumber.

David, UK
June 14, 2011 2:00 am

Yeah, these things are commonplace in the UK. Must admit, I always just use the larger flush. The smaller one seems a bit wimpy, and I don’t want my bathroom stinking of urine. Maybe this fear is unfounded?
What a lovely thread to read whilst eating my breakfast.

Bloke down the pub
June 14, 2011 2:01 am

Versions I have seen work on the syphon principle and just have an extra vent hole in the side of the unit to break the syphon earlier when short flush is selected.

June 14, 2011 2:09 am

Amusing, is it not?
Swathes of green legislation are proposed but simple devices that actually work are for the most part ignored.
Not that we should ever really suffer from a shortage of water in rainy England, even in the crowded South East where I live.
I would however like to mention that these devices (although not necessarily the brand you are showing, with which I am unfamiliar) are frequently quite fragile compared with the sturdy copper float and brass fittings I grew up with…or better still the now vanishing mighty clanking cast iron overhead masterpieces devised by the great Thos.Crapper.
Technology and foresight ought to be able to bring us over-abundant supplies of clean water by now.

June 14, 2011 2:10 am

Pretty much all new toilets in the UK have dual flush capability. Not sure if the mechanism is the same in all, but very similar.

John B
June 14, 2011 2:11 am

Have these in my loos in France.
Note: over (not very long) time the O ring at the bottom of the flush mechanism can allow water to leak away – imperceptibly at first and defeating the object of the installation.

Scottish Sceptic
June 14, 2011 2:12 am

We recently redid our bathroom and spent an awful lot of time sitting on toilets in shops. Unfortunately, as soon as you start looking, you realise that some idiot (in Brussels no doubt) has decreed that all new toilets will be “narrow throat” designs. Without putting too fine a point on it, these are far more likely to block that the tranditional wider mouth U bend with a smooth interior and a large flush.
Eventually, we decided that our original 1960s toilet was perfectly up to the job … although I could never persuade my wife to replace the toilet seat with a blue LED illuminated device …. !!
Whilst on the throne … I once applied for a job at a sewerage plant and was fortunate enough to get a tour around the plant. What struck me was that despite the huge amount of heavy equipment, they were a large exported of electricity. Apparently all that waste was a huge contributor to “renewables”.
So, ever since I’ve got into the habit of throwing lots and lots of food waste into the loo on the basis that (assuming our local sewerage plant also has the sense to generate electricity from waste), the food would do a lot more good composting at the sewerage plant and producing electricity, than composting in our garden and … producing worms and flies.
Now, I’ve absolutely no authority for suggesting that food waste should be flushed down the loo … but it clearly does make sense … and must be the simplest way possible to recycle. I SUPPOSE IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE BASIC LAW OF “GREENWASH” …. THE SEWERAGE COMPANIES HAVE A MONOPOLY AND SEE WASTE AS A HASSLE …. AND NO ONE ELSE CAN MAKE MONEY OUT OF IT …. SO AS NO ONE MAKES MONEY THERE’S NO COMPANY THERE TO TELL US THAT IT’S “GREEN”!

June 14, 2011 2:23 am

Our modern European toilet at home has an even simpler mechanism: Push to flush, push to stop.

June 14, 2011 2:25 am

We’ve had those in Germany for many years and except some really old installations, a “save water” option is standard in our toilets. Seems America is pretty good at ignoring certain issues. As you said, there are actually good “green” inventions.

stephen richards
June 14, 2011 2:47 am

France has had them for a long time certainly before les britanniques. We get long periods without any rain at all and a lot of our water comes from the rivers. Where I live in SW France the soil is a clay-sand mix which seriously damages pumps trying to lift water from the nappe. They do have a tendency to fail regularly although mine have been good fro some 9 years.

Les Francis
June 14, 2011 2:53 am

Australia not only has compulsory dual flush cisterns but now a government mandated bowl swilling system.
The flushing system has been designed to flush the bowls in a Whirlpool” effect.
Many high rise building managements in an effort to “appear” to have green credentials are now using “no flush” urinals. (of course the laws of unintended consequences have been in action and sewage systems that rely on a designed amount of water flow are causing problems with the reduced flushing).
AGW proponents are fully alive and kicking in all Australian levels of government. (As is Agenda 21).
And as an aside. Australia has plenty of water, it’s just badly mismanaged and distributed

June 14, 2011 2:55 am

Blocked pipe is what I ended up with after installing a dual flush toilet(it was the cheapest available,so that may have made a difference)I just use the heaviest flush now,as the light flush does not clear everything away.I think I use more water now,as I quite often have to flush after others have used the toilet.

June 14, 2011 3:02 am

Mm, OK, but you’ll use less water and if you are charged via a meter reading your water bills will drop. Maybe not so good for the water companies. Here in Germany I can’t recall seeing a single-flush toilet since many years. But then our water is supplied by the city council who have an interest in conserving the resource.

Philip Bradley
June 14, 2011 3:05 am

something obviously necessary in Australia as weather/rainfall patterns differ.
Its a common misconception that Australia lacks water. A misconception actively propagated by the media.
In fact Australia has more water available per capita than all but 2 countries in the world (Russia and Iceland from memory).
A few years back I flew over the Fitzroy river here in the north of Western Australia during the rainy season and I estimate it was at least 3 kilometers wide.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
June 14, 2011 3:17 am

This reinforces my long-held belief that if people were really serious about water conservation, houses would have both toilets and urinals. Not only is water saved (and waterless urinals are available), but there’s little debate about who in the family has to clean the urinal. Although, according to the Wikipedia urinal entry, functional urinals for women are available, it’s basically a cultural issue to get women used to using them. Since men can piss into a tin can on a chair, the “female” urinal should work for both sexes.
Instead, as found in places “facing future dramatic global warming-caused water shortages” like the People’s Republic of California, a “modern and upscale” addition is a water-using bidet, or a fancy computerized toilet with a built-in bidet function. Gee, between the warnings of (C)AGW-induced droughts and Greens decrying the loss of trees, I would have expected the emergence of the Environmentally Correct ™ solution of scrubbing your butt clean with “recyclable” sand. Of course that comes with the problem of convincing the cats that’s your tray on the floor, not their’s.

June 14, 2011 3:35 am

Stephen richards says:
June 14, 2011 at 2:47 am
France has had them for a long time certainly before les britanniques. We get long periods without any rain at all and a lot of our water comes from the rivers. Where I live in SW France the soil is a clay-sand mix which seriously damages pumps trying to lift water from the nappe. They do have a tendency to fail regularly although mine have been good fro some 9 years.==========
steven try another REAL Aussie invention.called a Brumby Pump no parts to clag up even in strong saline bore waters. uses compressed air
On the LOO issue, I asked adelkaide water why? they didnt promote WaterLESS loos more,
their system needs water to work, if you dont keep pumping water in they cant keep pipe pressures up.
I save laundry wash water in buckets and use that, not paying insane prices for purple pump(recycle) systems.
whats loopier is the requirement for clean Rainwater to be used for ;loos and lawns and laundry,( you only get the “rebate” if its plumbed to such use) while we are supposed to drink Fluoride and chlorinated gunk.

June 14, 2011 3:36 am

Here is a nice schematic diagram on how a toilet works: http://bit.ly/mjEOjD

June 14, 2011 3:49 am

I put 4 dual flush toilets in my new house in 2007. I have had to replace 3 of the 4 with toilets with a regular single flush design because they failed – the filling got incredibly slow. The fourth is a seldom used toilet in a spare bedroom en suite. They probably were cheap Chinese toilets, but nonetheless I am a bit suspicious of the technology for reliability. I’d echo the point that the kids have a hard time pressing the buttons.
Anyway, in Ireland saving a few litres of water per flush isn’t the issue it is elsewhere and thankfully the EU law banning other than dual flushers has not yet come into effect.

dave ward
June 14, 2011 3:53 am

I also get exasperated by modern toilets failing to flush the more “Stubborn” deposits in one go. The reason is quite simple – insufficient head of water. We still have an old fashioned wall mounted cistern in our utility room toilet, and the 5 foot drop produces a torrent of water at the bowl. There is no comparison with any modern “low level” unit!! It only has a single flush mechanism – a dual flush conversion would be useless as it’s far too high to reach. However it has the cheap and easy brick installed to reduce water usage…

Kelvin Vaughan
June 14, 2011 3:57 am

Most rural French men save even more water by using the hedge in the garden.

June 14, 2011 4:03 am

Or alternatively, you could just piss in the sink.

Mike McMillan
June 14, 2011 4:07 am

Ah, that must be why the Western-style toilets in Japan have the Kanji symbols for ‘big’ and ‘little’ next to the flush handle.

Brian R
June 14, 2011 4:09 am

I first saw these at Costco about 2 months ago. As I don’t have the required parts inside my tanks, I haven’t bought any. Seems like a good idea. Here in the Denver area, we have often had water rationing. Not to the same level and southern California, but rationing non the less.

John Marshall
June 14, 2011 4:15 am

Well, all the blogs above just show how far behind the US is with toilet design.
You can also work on the principle- If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down. This saves water without buying the selectable flush.

Jenn Oates
June 14, 2011 4:16 am

Every toilet I saw in Norway last year was of this type. Some had large buttons, which might help out with the small child problem?

June 14, 2011 4:28 am

I am glad to see that in future you will be flush with cash? 😉

June 14, 2011 4:45 am

I haven’t seen single-handle flushers in Germany for ages. I believe, they were forbidden long ago.
There are two-button flushes here at least since the wall broke.

Dave N
June 14, 2011 4:45 am

Another idea in the toilet…

June 14, 2011 4:46 am

Meh to dual flush. You know why ? Coz in my experience women seem to think that nothing they “do” out of their delicate little lower area deserves a “full flush”. Result ? Sewer system regularly blocked (especially at certain times of the month) and not at just one property. Solution ? The cunning use of a self-tapper screw underneither the “dual flush” button so no matter what is pushed, a full flush always happens.
It aint a saving when multiple flushes are required, and it is an utter madness if regular use of a plunger is required or even worse, the prying up of the sewer pipe cap and a garden hose fed down on full pressure to “clear the way”.
I wish I’d never swapped the single flush for the dual flush. Would rather pay the $50 a year in so called “savings” than to put up with all the grief it has caused.
Better to pay the extra $50 than try and convince women in the household to push the Big Button for a change, yes ?

Alexander K
June 14, 2011 4:50 am

Dual flush toilet cisterns have been available in New Zealand for thirty or so years , at least. On our rural bush block there, we were reliant on our own rainwater tanks fed from our roof for drinkinging, washing, etc, plus a ‘greywater’ system which saved and stored water from dishwashing, showering, etc and used the ‘waste’ water to flush toilets, which were dual-flush anyway. ‘Greywater’ systems are also great for watering home gardens as the small amount of soap, etc in the water is excellent for killing aphids and other leaf-eating pests. In dry seasons it was possible to have water tankers top up the rainwater tanks with water drawn from artesian bores or springs, but we avoided that as far as possible due to the high cost.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
June 14, 2011 4:57 am

From Ulick Stafford on June 14, 2011 at 3:49 am:

I put 4 dual flush toilets in my new house in 2007. I have had to replace 3 of the 4 with toilets with a regular single flush design because they failed – the filling got incredibly slow.

Are you on a municipal water system? I’ve found that slow fills are a sign of small rust pieces interfering with the fill valves, with the rare larger piece partially blocking the small supply line (we’re not plumbing toilets direct to 3/8″ copper anymore). The new plumbing shouldn’t be a problem already unless you have very hard untreated water. If you have a new well with a pressure tank then that shouldn’t be a problem, but you might want to drain off the tank to check for sediment.
With the common Fluidmaster replacement fill valve (as seen in the third pic, which might be a “private label” version for the toilet maker) there are directions for popping off the top and cleaning out such particles. Such cleaning for whatever valve you have is a smart addition for your “homeowner repairs” repertoire, and saves a lot on plumbing bills.

Andy G55
June 14, 2011 4:58 am

To Philip Bradley,
Yes, there can be heaps of water, particularly up in that area in the wet season, but I can assure you that Australia does have significant water issues, particularly for its major cities, and even more particularly for some of the major inland cities.
The problem is that even with large storages, we still get very long periods of time where rainfall can be significantly low, leading to very low dam levels.. we call it drought !!
In 2007, Sydney’s dam levels dropped to 32% capacity, Brisbane was at around 17% as was Melbourne, and Goulburn, in the central west of NSW actually RAN OUT of water, and had to have it trucked in. Goulburn is NOT a small town either.
Perth and Adelaide also had very, very major issues with water supply. Do some research !!
Mind you, at the beginning of this year, Brisbane’s Wyvenhoe Dam filled up pretty quickly !! Warragamba (Sydney) is now at about 74%, but Melborne’s main resevoir (Thomson) is still only at about 35%. You can look up Perth and Adelaide yourself.
Yes it would be nice if we could get water from the Ord River scheme down to our capital cities, but its not really feasible.
So, until you understand the Australia climate and water supply systems, please don’t make silly comments.

June 14, 2011 5:10 am

Wife and I have used the yellow-mellow-brown-down for years. We almost never exceed our 3000 gal/month minimum.
When I suggested it to my science students, I got a universal “eeeeuu that’s gross”

Tom Bauch
June 14, 2011 5:14 am

Thanks for posting this… You just saved my thousands of dollars. My wife has been planning to replace ALL our toilets with dual flush versions and this simple retrofit will mean we don’t have to…

June 14, 2011 5:14 am

There is a “Green” store in the UK that has for years advised against flush valves and recommends a 4 litre siphon used with a Swedish water efficient toilet:
They have said that 6 month studies show that dual flush rarely saves water compared to a standard UK siphon mechanism due to leakage, incorrect usage, necessity to flush more than once etc. However
IRC the UK had valve cisterns in Victorian time until there was water shortage at which point and the siphonic cistern was adopted to prevent wastage. As has been mentioned above, they initially used smaller high level tans to take advantage of gravity, but were commonly known as “thunder boxes” due the cacophony they produce.
Also, don’t get me started on siphonic traps, my last house originally had 1960’s vintage toilets of this type. They are now banned due to their supposed high flush volumes ( 9 litres?) but in practice ours continued to work even though the aged porcelain siphon mechanism (in the cistern) rarely flushed more than half the available water (i.e. 4.5 litres). I think I can state that it never failed to remove the ‘doings’ at first attempt and do it very quietly compared to the flush down models. For the uninitiated, a siphonic trap at first appears to do nothing, but a vacuum built up in special chambers causes the contents of the trap to be sucked downwards with some force. Plumbers hate them because they are difficult to install and maintain. We really missed them when they finally had to be replaced.

June 14, 2011 5:14 am

When I lived in Tokyo 20 years ago dual flush toilets were already standard practice, with the added feature (on some toilets) of a spigot on top of the tank and a drain hole in the lid. When you flushed (big or little) the water that refilled the tank came through the spigot and was available to you for handwashing before it disappeared through the drain hole into the tank. Simple, no moving parts.

Jeff Wood
June 14, 2011 5:16 am

Here in Italy we also have problems arising from the low flow of water through the drains caused by first, the dry weather and second, the mandated low flow plumbing.
Just a couple of weeks ago the plumber and I were staring with numb horror at the outside drainage node, after he had lifted the lid. We got it clear, but the upstream blockage cannot yet be found – it is probably in a vacant property – and the village still whiffs a bit.
I would rather pay higher water bills. Did I not read somewhere (here?) that San Francisco has serious problems from limiting the water being fed into the drains?

Frank Lee MeiDere
June 14, 2011 5:19 am

We have a similar thing in our basement washroom, except instead of two buttons, water flow is determined by how far you press down on the handle. Having had a lot of experience with low flow toilets, I was less than pleased when the landlord put it in, but this thing works amazingly well. We almost never use the full flush, even when the “load” deposited would clog another toilet for a week. I’ve puzzled over what makes it so powerful, but without taking it apart (and when I take things apart, they STAY apart) I just can’t figure it out.

June 14, 2011 5:28 am

Here in So. Calif. both Home Depot and Lowes sell dual flush conversion kits (both in-store and online):

June 14, 2011 5:33 am

kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
June 14, 2011 at 3:17 am

This reinforces my long-held belief that if people were really serious about water conservation, houses would have both toilets and urinals.

Rats, you beat me to it. Now all I can add is that some sinks are at the right height. 🙂
More serious notes:
1) Our house came with a couple low flow toilets that use a pressurized system that works really well. I have no idea who makes it, but flushing has jets in the bottom that drags along the bowl contents so there’s hardly any mixing. One trigger doesn’t always reset, so that one still needs to have the handle jiggled, but when it starts oscillating, there’s no doubt it needs attention. I opened up the closet and it’s dry inside, but there’s a metal pressure tank, so obviously the pressure comes from the water system.
2) About those bottles in the second photo. They should work better on their side. You want to displace water at the bottom so that what’s left has more potential energy to move stuff. You might want to add sand or something in them to keep them on the bottom.

Dave Springer
June 14, 2011 5:41 am

Not advisable for those with septic systems. The aerobic bacteria that keep a septic system self-sustaining and odor-free don’t do as well in higher uric acid concentrations. The best solution in any case is to piss outdoors on unwanted weeds and ant hills.

June 14, 2011 5:44 am

My previous company in the small town of Cedar Rapids had these several years ago. Up for number one, down for number two.

June 14, 2011 5:53 am

These are not touted in the US because the standard methodology for bureaucratic problem-solving here involves increasing taxes and control over people.

Fred from Canuckistan
June 14, 2011 5:57 am

I recall being in California back in the late 80’s during a dry spell and the simple solution then was:
“if its yellow, keep it mellow”
If its brown, flush it down”
Kinda like a Russian space pencil solution to water shortages.

Crispin in Waterloo
June 14, 2011 5:57 am

Espen says:
“Our modern European toilet at home has an even simpler mechanism: Push to flush, push to stop.”
I didn’t realise Africa was so developed. In all the French speaking countries the standard toilet has a pull knob that lets the water flush until the knob is dropped. So it is a semi-automatic, infinitely variable, number-1-and-2-disposing device with springless auto-return and hydraulic sealing. It also works from the left or right simplifying the number of moulds needed to produce them. Inside it has about 3 parts all of which are cheap.

June 14, 2011 6:00 am

In my humble opinion, there is only one “green” toilet flush technology that is worth a crap (there, I said it). About 20 years ago, incensed by the absurd low-flow (no-go) toilets foisted on us Californians, I stumbled upon the Sloan Flushmate system, which is available from every major toilet manufacturer. Sloan makes most of the commercial flush valves that we guys have grown up staring at.
In short, instead of a funky tank of water with nothing but gravity to propel it, the Flushmate uses a pressure tank with a bladder inside that charges the flush water up to full line pressure. When you push the flush button, in one and a half seconds, whatever was in that bowl is GONE, guaranteed. In twenty years I have never had to flush twice. They are so effective and reliable that we brought new ones to Panama with us in our shipping container. The only maintenance I have ever done was to replace the push button valve on one toilet, a five minute process.
In our current house, because I had the opportunity to do so, I installed a personal urinal in the entrance to my shower, where the floor gets automatically washed down without any effort. Contrary to what you are thinking right now, it is clean, odor-free and of course very convenient. It only needs about a pint of water to flush, which is just a curiosity here in Panama, where our main problem is getting rid of all the water, but is solved a much more important problem – the toilet seat UP or DOWN controversy. And let’s face it, for men, raining down from high altitude into a bucket of water has never been the neatest process, what with all the splashing and aiming and other fluid dynamics issues involved.

June 14, 2011 6:03 am

These type of push buttons are very usual here in Portugal. I’ve been noticing that they are the default install for several years… In my case, I’ve even tweaked the buoy, so it doesn’t fill the maximum…
Another great idea for the bathroom is a 5 litre plastic bottle, where I put the fresh water before it gets warm. I then use it to water the plants. Depends on how far is the bathroon from the heating source, but my bottle gets 3 litres (almost) every time I take a bath!
I believe simple ideas like these change the world!

Les Francis
June 14, 2011 6:04 am

Andy G55 says: June 14, 2011 at 4:58 am

The Australian capital cities water systems are designed for severe drought. There are histories of eleven year droughts and the designers have this in mind.
We have just been through a severe drought and the damns did exactly as designed. It took more than seven years of drought for the Melbourne dams to get down to it’s lowest level. There are very few major cities in the world with this level of backup.
More than 90% of harvested water is used for agriculture. Two thirds of this water is wasted due to evaporation in open irrigation canals etc etc.

Dave Springer
June 14, 2011 6:06 am

I have my own fresh water supply and wastewater disposal systems so I tend to monitor more closely than most folks my water use. I use about 1000 gallons per month per person. In my experience the clothes washer accounts for nearly half of it. Sears had a sale in January on HE front loader washing machines. Under $500 with free delivery and installation. I bought one for my mother this past winter when her old machine gave up the ghost. I was utterly amazed at how clean the clothes get, how little water it uses, and how little water is left after the high speed spin cycle completes. The less water in the clothes after the spin cycle means the clothes dryer takes a lot less energy. These things are marvelous. I’ll never buy a top loading washing machine again.

Pamela Gray
June 14, 2011 6:08 am

You don’t want to know what they do on the backside of Jamaica. Or in the interior of Ensanada.

June 14, 2011 6:19 am

All of this complexity. Just put a brick in the back of the toilet. Done.

Sean Peake
June 14, 2011 6:26 am

You took apart a toilet? Remind me to have second thoughts on having you as a house guest 🙂

June 14, 2011 6:27 am

We remodeled our bathroom this Spring. Hearing all the nightmares about the new toilets requiring multiple flushes compared to the old style was a concern. I purchased a Kohler Cimarron toilet and after having it for a few months now I don’t get where all the fuss came from. This toilet flushes WAY better than the 30 year old ‘whirlpool 5 gallon flood’ design and has yet required two plus flushes. WHOOSH, it’s gone!
It might be some of the cheapo brands require two flushes, but I wouldn’t trade this new Kohler for the old “better” design ever. We have well water and thus no water bill so cost savings isn’t an issue, and after all the rain this year our water tables are in no danger of going dry.

Paul Westhaver
June 14, 2011 6:45 am

When it comes to waste removal and keeping the pipes, backwater valves etc free of sediments and other solids, from clogging up the works, flush frequently.
Canada has 20% of the world’s fresh water. It is 100% renewable also, this year 120% So I pay for what I use and use water constantly.
Flushing isn’t just about removing waste from the P-Trap in the bowl. It is also about providing sufficient liquids to carry the waste 1-10 miles to the sewage treatment plants. As the Romans figured out the pulse of water that initiate in the bowl dissipates and lengthens along the way to the treatment plant, reducing the flow velocity and mass around the solids, thereby its momentum and hence its cleaning ability.
Sewer systems are not connected to grey water and run-off systems…. but that waste water ought to be diverted to assist in purging the ever increasing more solid waste in the sewer pipes.
Another seemingly good idea that is deeply flawed… typical reasoning from the green religion.

Michael Schaefer
June 14, 2011 6:48 am

Smart as it is, it’s a mandatory installation in every toilet over here in Germany.
Anyway, it’s good to see that the USA has finally entered the 21st century.

Don K
June 14, 2011 6:54 am

A couple of years ago, at the insistence of my esteemed spouse, I replaced an olive green 1960s toilet (they don’t make ’em like that anymore, and there is a reason. Even I thought it was ugly) with an inexpensive toilet from the local hardware store. Turns out that the new toilet has a simple dual flush system. If you just press the handle, the flapper closes after about half the tank has flowed. If you hold the handle down, the toilet flows until you release it.
It turns out that using it properly quickly becomes instinctive.

June 14, 2011 7:02 am

Or how about what water-challenged Caribbean islands do:
“In this land of fun and sun,
We never flush for number one”.
Problem solved. No need to purchase and remember which button to push. Who knew?

June 14, 2011 7:02 am

The flush must have enough water to remove waste to the main sewer line or else the pipe from the toilet will clog up and the saving will go to the plumber and then some.

Philip Peake
June 14, 2011 7:10 am

@Dave Springer: When we moved to the US 19 years ago, we were absolutely amazed at how antiquated almost all domestic appliances were. Was “tubs”, that had disappeared from England in the 1960’s, low resolution TV, freezers guaranteed to lose all their cold air ach time you opened the door, separate spin dryers (again, vanished in the 1960’s elsewhere) that seemed incapable of spinning fast, quietly and without excess vibration. Toilets with flapper valves, vacuum cleaners looking like something my mother threw out when I was a kid etc. etc.
Things are getting better. America is up to probably 1980’s technology now.
If the US were really interested in efficiency, saving power etc., they would dump the ridiculous 110v power system and start using 240v systems. Much less copper in the house wiring, much smaller lighter electric motors (ever compared the weight of an EU electric hand drill to a comparable power US unit?
They would require the use of power factor capacitors in fluorescent light fittings, dump the concept of central air conditioning/heating with a single thermostat for the whole house for a system that allows individual rooms to be separately controlled – dump open-plan houses for more efficient to heat/cool housed with rooms etc. etc.

June 14, 2011 7:12 am

I didn’t have time to read all the comments so it likely has been mentioned but one of the causes of poor toilet performance can be traced to low water pressure. Ask your local water engineer if the water pressure to your house is adequate. If you are supplied by your own well consider an electronic pump control for your well pump; expensive but well worth the cost.

June 14, 2011 7:13 am

I can’t believe that this isn’t in every toilet in the world!
I live in Australia, on the West Coast, which is considerably dryer than the East Coast in these La Nina Oscillation years, and I have never seen a toilet which doesn’t have the dual flush mechanism.
This is kind of crazy to me…
A real eye opener.

slow to follow
June 14, 2011 7:20 am

I think you need to take care that the “flush volume” is compatible with your pan. Older pans had larger capacity U bends so fitting a low capacity flush will not clear it – hence the double flushing problem.

Mark Wagner
June 14, 2011 7:21 am

Can’t wait for the new “smart saver” water usage reporting meters….

June 14, 2011 7:34 am

I still say the greenest product ever invented was fire–making plant-ready CO2 directly from pretty useless carbon concentrations (wood, coal, petrol, etc.) Had calcium or magnesium carbonate tied up all the available carbon as limestone or dolostone, there wouldn’t be any meaningful life on this planet; we certainly wouldn’t be here.

Greg, Spokane WA
June 14, 2011 7:39 am

Our house, built in ’01 (we moved into it in ’06,) came with low flow toilets that did the small flush in the usual way. Holding down the handle for a longer time got the bigger flush for dealing with the #2s. Functionally the same as the gadget above (which seems like a good idea, BTW.) It’s just like the one Don K mentions above.
When we were in CA we had our toilets replaced with ‘big throat” models. Worked quite nicely, too, and I think they were also low(er) flow. They were something like this one, on Amazon.

Jeff Alberts
June 14, 2011 7:39 am

I wonder if it’s available for toilets with a larger flapper valve?

David Schofield
June 14, 2011 7:58 am

Scottish Sceptic says:
June 14, 2011 at 2:12 am
So, ever since I’ve got into the habit of throwing lots and lots of food waste into the loo…
You are going to have LOT of rats in your local sewer.
By the way, anyone who’s been to a sewage treatment plant [now called a’waste water treatment’ plant now to protect the house prices] will see sweetcorn and tomato plants growing in the sludge as those seeds where indigestible!

June 14, 2011 8:03 am

They use something similar in Israel.

Andy G55
June 14, 2011 8:04 am

Les, with the projected population growth, it will certainly be interesting to see just how robust the major city supply systems are if we get another similar drought, which being Australia, we almost certainly will.

Mike G
June 14, 2011 8:06 am

Like any complex technology, it will eventually fail. When it does, it will likely waste more water than it has saved up to that point. Next idea, please.

Andy G55
June 14, 2011 8:10 am

Rocky, if you look at very long term CO2 history you can see the massive drop in atmospheric CO2 levels just about the time serious plant life might have been flourishing.
Typical food vs prey pattern.. drops down to subsistence level and stays down at that balance. All the old plant life got buried and we are now releasing a small portion of the carbon back into the atmosphere. We are restoring the planet to a more plant sustainable level and benefitting from the energy in the process
gees, it’s almost like someone planned it.

June 14, 2011 8:54 am

A number of commenters like to note how the US is behind in toilet design. I live in New Hampshire and we get around 100 inches of rain a year. There is no water shortage so why should we use this device? In my case, I have my own well, so I am not paying a utility for water which means I have even less reason to install one of these devices. Also most new toilets here in the US are two-stage without this device. Pull the handle down and release it and you get a short flush where the flapper quickly reseals the tank before all the water is evacuated. Hold the handle down and you get a longer flush using the full tank.
Also, Australia does not have any drought or water shortages either. They have had huge amounts of rain and floods this past year and it is looking like the snowfall will be very large for them as well. The Australian BOM and media, mostly ABC, is spreading lies and misinformation in a fraudulent campaign of climate fear. Just read Jo Nova, Andrew Bolt or Warwick Hughes to learn all about it.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
June 14, 2011 9:11 am

From Philip Peake on June 14, 2011 at 7:10 am:

If the US were really interested in efficiency, saving power etc., they would dump the ridiculous 110v power system and start using 240v systems. Much less copper in the house wiring, much smaller lighter electric motors (ever compared the weight of an EU electric hand drill to a comparable power US unit?

An electric hand drill, with a cord, that plugs into a wall socket? That is soooo 20th century. Yeah, I got a few still laying around, some real old ones too. Those with the metal housings and metal gears, the nice hefty models, last practically forever, as opposed to those wimpy lightweight ones with plastic housings and plastic gears that wear out relatively quickly.
Meanwhile there’s not much that beats a nice modern cordless drill, like a commercial-grade DeWalt. I had bought a 14.4V, now 18V has become basically the minimum for real use, and 24V is becoming more common. Good weight to them, and the modern basic features of reverse and variable speed with a keyless chuck used to be higher-end options in the days of corded drills. Now we have the ongoing transition to Lithium-Ion from Ni-Cad batteries. Yup, good times.
So when is the EU going to catch up to US hand drill technology?

Kelvin Vaughan
June 14, 2011 9:12 am

Pamela Gray says:
June 14, 2011 at 6:08 am
You don’t want to know what they do on the backside of Jamaica. Or in the interior of Ensanada.
I thought that rum tasted weird!

Elisabeth van Son
June 14, 2011 9:15 am

Our Belgian toilet has since 5 years a push button that sticks out on one side when you push it, and you just gauge how much is enough to flush your waste and push the button back in place. Very handy. My mom has a system that looks like what you described and it was already there when she moved in in 1998. But we learned recently that the Germans are already working with water-free toilets, now that would be interesting !

Andrew Parker
June 14, 2011 9:43 am

I don’t know if I would ever actually do it, as I was raised with flush toilets and a sewer connection, but the solution that uses the least water is a composting toilet.
I remember attending a development meeting a few years ago where a retired engineer was proudly showing off his design for a modern sewer system for a remote village in the Andes. The elephant in the room was, where was he going to get the water for all those very sanitary flush toilets? Conventional Western solutions often put an unnecessary burden on the resources and revenue of developing communities. There are ways of having modern Western conveniences, without replicating complex Western infrastructure built on layer upon layer of older technology. These communities are in the enviable position of being able to think outside the box, not being tied to an existing infrastructure and code.

June 14, 2011 10:08 am

The Australians must have to install them backwards ’cause their swirls go the other way!

June 14, 2011 10:16 am

Long ago an oil tanker named Torrey Canyon ran aground off the UK coast and produced a large oil spill. The powers that be decided dispersant was needed and moved in hundreds of plastic tanks of 1 cubic metre capacity, each in a rigid wire and metal frame so the tanks can be stacked. There was no plan to recycle those empty tanks. I aquired four of them for next to nothing. I now have four cubic metres of stored water, as long as it rains, and have more than enough to flush the toilet full flush and water for the garden veggies as well.

June 14, 2011 10:33 am

Starting in January 2012, all inhabitants of the EU protectorates will be required to piss into bags and flush down the brown stuff with the stored piss. No more water required. /foresight

June 14, 2011 10:41 am

Absolutely amazing. I just installed two of these last week! The traditional flapper valve things need constant replacement or they leak. I got tired of the bi-annual replacement of the flapper and got two of these since they cost less than a complete replacement kit. Super easy to install and work well.

Heather Brown (AKA Dartmoor Resident)
June 14, 2011 10:43 am

As many people have commented, these are common here in the UK. My only problem with them is the small (double) button which often takes quite a bit of finger power to push – and is difficult for those with aged, arthritic fingers I was pleased to note on a recent trip round New Zealand that they all seemed to use the same principle, but had a really large button – usually on top of the cistern – that was much easier to see and use.

June 14, 2011 10:52 am

Leon Brozyna says:
June 14, 2011 at 1:41 am

What was the California saying? Back in ’76 I saw a bumper sticker in California that went “Number One or Number Two, Don’t Flush Until The Drought is Through”.

June 14, 2011 11:53 am

We have such a toilet as this at our Little League ball park. Has two buttons, one for half, one for full flush.
But what most caught my eye was this part: “Unfortunately, the water table has steadily dropped over the last 150 years as the town has grown, and even though there are years of upticks in recharge, the overall trend is down.”
Given the expected record runoff, it would seem to me that we should have in place a mechanism for massive injection of this runoff into aquifers. We do have around here some ponds that are used for ground water recharge but I would think that in years such as this, we could have some fairly massive direct injection recharge. That is a water project I could get behind and they do a similar thing in Southern California where they “bank” winter runoff in underground “reservoirs” where it doesn’t evaporate. This would be in the area from between, say, San Bernardino and Banning. I think we could used a similar method up here in the Central Valley during years of exceptional runoff when most of that water would simply run out to sea.

June 14, 2011 12:33 pm

Every toilet I saw in Norway last year was of this type. Some had large buttons, which might help out with the small child problem?
You use the large button to flush small children???

June 14, 2011 12:38 pm

Scottish Sceptic says:
June 14, 2011 at 2:12 am
Now, I’ve absolutely no authority for suggesting that food waste should be flushed down the loo
My wifes renter was also in such a habit. Unfortunately her favorite food was rice which will harden in the pipes if not flushed completely to the street main.

40 Shades of Gree
June 14, 2011 12:44 pm

If its Yellow Let it Mellow,
If its brown flush it down.
Sign on the wall in a true Environmentalist’s toilet.
Much cheaper and greener than this New Fangled device.
It will never catch on with us true Greens
40 Shades (heading for 41)

June 14, 2011 12:54 pm

Rather than pushing buttons, I’d buy a cont(c)raption that uses a dial system.
Sometimes going “all the way up to eleven” is what it takes.

June 14, 2011 1:10 pm

As other’s have commented, if you are taking water conservation seriously, don’t flush after just a piss. It does no harm in the u bend. And wrt hygiene, it is good. It’s antibacterial. Don’t forget those storys from WWI, the soilders that treated their wounds with urine, survived more often than those that didn’t ‘cos they thought it ‘dirty’.
Good luck trying to convince the wife though. No chance.

June 14, 2011 2:42 pm

When it’s yellow, let it mellow.
When it’s brown, flush it down.

Dodgy Geezer
June 14, 2011 3:10 pm

Can anyone here tell me why we have had a huge thread about conserving water, and NOBODY has suggested that perhaps we need more reservoirs?
I believe that neither the UK nor California have built a new large reservoir in the last 30 years. If that is the case, it’s not surprising that water will run short occasionally. Since water exists in a cycle, and is never destroyed, conserving it does not make sense to me. It is continually flowing past us. All we need to do is to make enough reservoir space to hold it for an appropriate amount of time.
What we seem to be doing is starving ourselves of water, and then pretending to ourselves that making do with less is somehow good….

keith at hastings uk
June 14, 2011 3:34 pm

Go back to washing rather than showering, using only a pint or two in a bowl, and flannels etc to spread soapy water where needed and absorb off. saves lots of water. Modern idea of showering everyday, or even twice a day, is just a luxury, certainly not available in most Uk houses till 30 yrs ago…

Bruce of Newcastle
June 14, 2011 3:44 pm

Law of unintended consequences is a wonderful thing. When San Francisco legislated low flow toilets they got more than they bargained for:
The lack of sufficient water flow in the city’s sewer system has caused human waste to gum up the pipes rather than simply washing out according to system design. The odor of human feces has been emanating from underground, with the area near AT&T Park, home of the Major League Baseball San Francisco Giants, being particularly affected. “There’s nothing like the delightful smell of human waste on a warm summer day,” deadpanned Matt Hickman, writing for the Mother Nature Network.
Basically the low flush systems may not actually save much water, they may just move its use to a different place – sewer flushing duty. Or worse…4000 tonnes of bleach in the above case. Given the sewers in London were invented to save the city from cholera epidemics, I’d urge caution given the chance is nil of our cities paying to re-engineer the sewer systems for efficient low flow operation.

mike g
June 14, 2011 3:51 pm

@Philip Peake
Perhaps the reason the US lags behind Europe and Australia in advanced crapper and appliance installations is that we’re still free to do pretty much what we want to instead of what some prune-faced bureaucrat decides we have to do. Obama is working on erasing what is left of that freedom, though.
I can keep fixing my thirty year old crappers for a couple bucks every ten years or so until some democrat bastard decrees I can’t any more, like I can’t replace my incandescent bulbs, any more. I’ll come to that bridge when I cross it. I’ve disassembled and repaired my twenty year old washer/dryer I don’t know how many times. I figure I’ll get another ten good years out of them. I draw the line at twenty years for vehicles, though. I don’t like having to do more than one engine rebuild. It gets boring doing it every 250,000 miles on the same engine.
As I said earlier, a high tech flusher for the crapper is eventually going to fail, probably in a mode that wastes more water than it has saved over its lifetime.

mike g
June 14, 2011 3:59 pm

Saw some of those water free urinals at an I-10 rest area in West Texas the other day. Not sure how well that would work for number 2, though. Well, at least we’re half way to where the toilets were on the new world in “When Worlds Collide.”

mike g
June 14, 2011 4:03 pm

Or, was it “After Worlds Collide.”

June 14, 2011 6:17 pm

I am surprised that still today used bath water can’t be employed for flush.

D. J. Hawkins
June 14, 2011 6:41 pm

Andrew Parker says:
June 14, 2011 at 9:43 am
I don’t know if I would ever actually do it, as I was raised with flush toilets and a sewer connection, but the solution that uses the least water is a composting toilet…

Just try having someone service the stationary dry chemical fire extinguisher that’s required!

D. J. Hawkins
June 14, 2011 6:46 pm

Leon Brozyna says:
June 14, 2011 at 1:41 am
Well, that’s a sight better than that California motto, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.” Who thought that one up? A man? His wife probably just loved him for that one, as she probably got stuck with cleaning the never clean toilet bowl.

Off the top of my head, I have heard it attributed to Frank Zappa.

June 14, 2011 7:29 pm

Your not the first to dismantle a dual flush Australian toilet to see how it works, Anthony.
Reported only very briefly in the MSM some years ago during a past Chinese Premier’s visit to Australia.
The Premier, an engineer by training, was a very long time in the toilet until his handlers got quite concerned and investigated.
And there he was with all the bits of the dual flush toilet dismantled and laying about him while he figured out just how the whole darn thing actually worked.

R. Craigen
June 14, 2011 7:41 pm

Good start Anthony. We’ve had these up in Canada for years. But judging from the number of jams we get with our full-flush toilets, I’m waiting until they come out with a #3 handle.

Bob in Castlemaine
June 14, 2011 8:16 pm

Our 22 year old house in central Victoria has dual flush toilets, fitted as original equipment. They work reasonably well with only the occasional mechanism jam. Surprising that they are relatively trouble free considering the mechanism of these things is a rather cheap “Heath Robinson” affair.
Here in Victoria we are not deficient in rainfall (although we have just come through a prolonged drought) it is more a case of state governments lacking the political will to build the necessary dams for fear of offending the inner city green voters. There has not been a significant new water catchment developed to serve the state capital, Melbourne, for more than a quarter of a century, while during that same period the population of the city has increased by more than a third. The final panic response of the State Labor Government was to have a private developer construct a large desalination plant on a very expensive 30 year “take or pay” basis. This means the state will be forced to pay for the water whether it is needed or not, in fact with the drought now broken the project has been delayed significantly due to flooding at the site.
The per litre cost of water from the desalination plant will be around six times as much as would the cost of water from a Mitchell River dam development. Preliminary studies were done for such a scheme, but a state Labor government put paid to it in 1986 by declaring a National Park over the Mitchell catchment.

June 14, 2011 8:50 pm

I bought a couple of those at Costco in Chico about 6 months back.

Martin Brumby
June 14, 2011 11:55 pm

I’m surprised you didn’t come across the even more efficient Australian lavatory, Anthony!
Out in the Kimberleys they have a cunning device called “the dunnee”. No water at all. A scoop of dirt and a good deep breath before you go in and you’ll be ‘right! Just watch out for the red-back.
At the other extreme, if you ever had a hankering to fly a Stealth Bomber, using a toilet in a posh Japanese hotel is the next best thing. Never did find out what the hell some of those buttons did….

Alan Wilkinson
June 15, 2011 1:06 am

I figured some parts of Australia had plenty of rain when we saw driftwood snagged 20 metres up a tree north of Mt Isa – and we weren’t in a gorge. The trouble is that delivery is very lumpy in space and time.
Since we are on rainwater tanks augmented by our own bore we’ve had dual flush toilets for ever as others have said re Aus & NZ.

June 15, 2011 2:46 am

How many loads of laundry do you wash every week? During the summer, I catch the rinse water for trees, garden and even grass. We’re talking about 13 gallons from each load. We have 4-5 loads per week for the two of us. Yes, it takes a few minutes to stop the washing machine, pull the hose out of the drain and put it into the large sprinkler cans but it’s worth it. Also, we have a rainbarrel. It’s near the vegetable garden. Furthermore, we have a “no flush” rule at night for #1. As we’ve gotten older, this saves 4-6 flushes each night. I have a friend in CA who puts a large kitty litter box in the middle of her shower where she stands and catches water to put in her flower beds. That saves her a couple of gallons per day. Many ways to save water if you can take the time to do it.

Geoff Sherrington
June 15, 2011 4:22 am

You’re not even safe if you stand on the seat.
The spirochaete can leap six feet.
(Sydney University grattiti seen 1961).

Mike M
June 15, 2011 5:37 am

Let’s not forget the original waterless design. My particular favorite – http://www.economicnoise.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/OuthouseWOSTO.jpg

June 15, 2011 6:08 am

Urine (diluted w/water) is a valuable resource. I have proof, the ring of taller & extra-green grass around all my planted trees & shrubs.

D. J. Hawkins
June 15, 2011 10:01 am

beng says:
June 15, 2011 at 6:08 am
Urine (diluted w/water) is a valuable resource. I have proof, the ring of taller & extra-green grass around all my planted trees & shrubs.

When I married my wife, Thor the rotweiller was part of the deal. The front lawn was more accessible than the back, so that’s where he did his business. Everywhere he went #1, there was a surge in grass growth. It was only if he developed a favorite spot that the grass would burn from too much nitrogen.

Keith Sketchley
June 15, 2011 11:18 am

Dual flush toilets are common in Canada, I am surprised they are not in the US since low flush ones are.
What is the quality of the product you describe?
Beware that early low flush toilets were often of poor hydrodynamic design, leading to plugging. Simply reducing water quantity led to a poor product.
Dual flush with original water capacity is a better idea, but there may also be better hydrodynamic designs,
aside from powered flush designs that are on the market.

gary gray
June 15, 2011 11:19 am

You can buy these things brand new complete with the toilet for a hundred bucks at Home Depot. They Work Great. You really want to save, Brand New Phase Change technology is available in the market place which can save up to 60% (according to Oak Ridge Labs testing) in heat and cooling loads! A sImple, inexpensive, safe and completely passive energy saving device. More information is available at http://www.phasechangetechnolgies.com

June 15, 2011 2:27 pm

This process is quite common in France, and more generally in Europe
By the way, is water saving a short – or a long term process ? I heard that in some sewage systems, due to water savings for flush, showers, and so on, heavy maintenance is needed, as there is an overall lack of water for the same load of material to be evacuated ! Water saving at individual may mean more cost at community level afterwards

June 16, 2011 4:18 am

Even easier & cheaper is the syphon type, which keeps the handle (keep handle held down for short flush; quick down & let go to let it syphon out a full flush).
Don’t know if they’re sold over there, or if they work with Yankee plumbing, but here’s a UK example:

June 16, 2011 4:28 am

But what about cistern height?
When I was young, cisterns were high up near the ceiling, and had a chain hanging down so that you could flush them. Like this:
Now they’re just above the level of the loo.
Coming from higher up, the water’s travelling faster when it hits the pan – so wouldn’t that give you more flush-power per pint? You could then have a lower flush volume, and reduce the risk of needing a second flush.

June 16, 2011 4:31 am

Ah, someone’s taken it to extremes (isn’t the internet wonderful?), putting the cistern in the loft.
He’s claiming heat efficiencies as well, because in winter the cold water coming into the cistern after each flush doesn’t get warmed to room temperature (just the lesser amount that stays in the pan after flushing).
But the main reason for doing it, for me, would be the impressive ‘whoosh’ as the water hits the pan.

June 16, 2011 7:03 am

“Amusing, is it not?
Swathes of green legislation are proposed but simple devices that actually work are for the most part ignored.”
Jack Savage, I would prefer it if you would refrain from making comments like this. Simlpe toilet-flushing mechanisms and simlpe light bulbs are disappointing interferences. Once an easy fix is done, it is done – and we liberals are left with one less opportunity to maintain constant surveillance and regulation of your life, and one less opportunity to retro-construct the economy from the top-down.
How will we ever turn this crazy world into our Utopia if we are not given control of your toilet, your lightbulbs, as well as every other aspect of your life?

Dave Springer
June 16, 2011 9:13 am


A standard washer will use approximately 40 to 45 gallons (151.4 L to 170.3 L) of water per load.

This is about what mine uses per large load. I’d guess we do about 1 large load per person per week. The other large water consumers are showers, toilet, and dishwashing which altogether use not much more than that. I don’t water my lawn. My motto for plants is that if they can’t survive in the natural climate and soil here I won’t have them unless they’re grown for food. Water is too scarce here in south central Texas waste it for ornamental plants. My car gets washed infrequently since I don’t give a hoot about anything but the windshield being clean.
Fresh water supply is going to become a crisis before energy does. The sun showers the earth with plenty of energy it’s just a matter of efficiently capturing a tiny fraction of it. The same thing doesn’t hold true for fresh water. Nor does it hold true for many other things we use. Phosphorous for fertilizers is nearing the crisis point for instance. And there ain’t near enough niobium to produce magnets for all the electric motors the environmental whackos imagine in our transportation fleet.

June 16, 2011 9:57 am

Featured on Ask This Old House on public television a few years ago.

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