Ultimate Guide to Low-flow Toilets

How to Choose a Low-flow Toilet

Customer satisfaction surveys show that today's low-flow and high efficiency toilets perform far better than the water-wasters (3.5 gallons and more) they've replaced. But there are differences among toilets, and the following factors influence how well a new toilet performs.

  • Waste removal: how well the toilet removes waste from the bowl
  • Noise: Noise doesn't usually affect clearance of waste from the bowl, but it can affect your satisfaction with a toilet.
  • Design: Design can affect the performance of a toilet, John Koeller of the Alliance for Water Efficiency told HowStuffWorks. Bowls that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act -- about an inch and a half taller than a standard toilet -- tend to clear waste better than standard height toilets. The reason? The water has more distance to fall, giving it more of an opportunity to clear waste. Round bowls also tend to be better at flush performance than elongated bowls because they're smaller, which means the released water can be more efficient at removing waste.

What should you look for when buying a low-flow toilet to get the most out of your investment?

  • Look for models that are labeled as high efficiency toilets. These toilets will give you the most water and financial savings. And, in some locations in the United States, sizable rebates are available to water utility customers for these toilets.
  • Make sure you get a toilet with a "WaterSense" label from the Environmental Protection Agency. These toilets have been tested by independent laboratories to make sure they use no more than 1.28 gallons (4.8 liters) per flush (and are thus high efficiency toilets) and can also clear waste effectively, according to the MaP testing protocol.
  • Realize that expensive toilets are not necessarily better toilets. Paying more for a toilet won't get you better waste clearance from the bowl, but it may give you more pleasing aesthetics in terms of color, bowl shape or whether the toilet is a one-piece or two-piece model.
  • Choose a pleasing design. Toilets come in varying designs, including those that are ADA height, and bowls with round or elongated design. Toilets also have different seat shapes. Think about what you want in terms of toilet aesthetics, and if you want an elongated design, be sure to measure your bathroom to make sure there's enough room.