Last fall, my friend showed up at soccer practice with big news: His mother-in-law was coming to stay with them for three months, and they had agreed to host an exchange student. But the big news was he’d just come from Home Depot with the coolest gadget for the toilet!
My friend explained his household was about to expand from four to six, including three adults and three children, one of whom was a teenager. All the kids were boys—we know how much they eat and drink. What goes in must come out, meaning a whole lot of flushing. Why let money go down the drain?
My frugal friend had bought a dual-flush toilet conversion kit to offset the expected increase in his water bill. It cost about $20 and he planned to install it the next morning. I had to admit this was a great idea, but would it really save money?
1. New Push-Button Flushing
The gadget my friend bought was going to replace the handle of the toilet with two buttons; I’m sure you can guess why. Any kid would be able to reason that “number one” needs less water to go down than “number two.” Not to mention pushing buttons is -- for reasons unknown -- so exciting for children.
It’s called the HydroRight and claims to reduce the amount of water used by up to 70 percent for liquids and paper, saving a family of four an estimated 15,000 gallons of water per year. The kit can be installed in less than 10 minutes without tools and without having to remove the tank.
2. The Poop Scoop
The main problem I've found with this gadget is it works for some but not all toilets. It can also take longer than 10 minutes to install, depending on what type of toilet you have and how handy you are. Worst case scenario, you could end up flushing an entire afternoon getting it to work.
Kudos to the manufacturer for being forthright about the possible tweaking needed. They do seem to be on top of the problems and, judging by the recent introduction of other kits, they're actively working to develop solutions.
3. The Old-Fashioned Way—Simple Physics
I remember my grandfather had a half-gallon milk jug filled with pebbles in the toilet tank to automatically displace some of the water. In other words, because the bottle is taking up one-half-gallon’s worth of space, the tank operates using one-gallon less water with every flush.
This method worked well for toilets manufactured in the 1960’s that had a five-gallon tank. But now the National Energy Policy Act mandates 1.6-gallon toilets for the entire U.S., I’m not sure we can spare one-half gallon with every flush.
4. In The End
My above-referenced friend says he is in fact saving money on his water bill, even though his mother-in-law went back home after the holidays. I think it’s worth a try as you could end up saving money with the push of a button.
Just don’t forget to wash your hands!