Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

May 3, 2009

WaterSaver: Save About 10% Per Flush, Even with Low-Flow Toilets

Category: Green Reviews,Household,Save Water,Tips – Tom Harrison – 2:07 pm

Actual Size: 2-1/4 Inches

Actual Size: 2-1/4 Inches

A reader sent me a gizmo (in a regular envelope) that saves almost 10%, each flush, called the WaterSaver. It’s a small bit of plastic, costs $5, and installs in a matter of seconds (no, really). On a low-flow toilet, that’s about 1/3 cup of water per flush.

I was skeptical. For one, my toilet is the kind that make people hate low-flow toilets. It sometimes doesn’t work in, eh hem, certain cases. We have lived with the toilet’s shortcomings for a while. So anything that might reduce efficacy further seemed like a bad idea.

But I put in the WaterSaver anyway, just as a test, and measured. The simplest way is to measure fill time. Before installation fill time for my toilet was a bit less than a minute; afterward it was about 52 seconds. After three flushes, I calculated that I used about 10% less water. I rushed off to write this blog post, but was distracted by reality. That was four months ago.

But is my forgetfulness is the ultimate endorsement of this product. My concerns were unjustified. The failed-flush rate is no different than before. I had completely forgotten that this little device was in there … saving a little every flush, for months.

The WaterSaver works simply. After a toilet is flushed, water runs to fill two parts: the tank and the bowl: it stops filling when the tank is full. The WaterSaver diverter just sends a little more water into the tank, and a little less into the bowl. And thus, the tank fills more quickly, with less water being sent directly down the drain through the bowl.

toilet-tankYou might ask, why doesn’t the toilet maker do this from the start? The answer is simple: the fill devices used on most commodes are commodities that can be purchased at any hardware store. One size fits all. Only a very few companies (e.g. Toto) actually optimize their toilets for consumption (and have a proprietary fill valve) — the rest just meet whatever standard they must, apparently without much thought of how. So, diverting a little water into the tank (instead of the bowl) saves a little water.

As I said, installation is a snap. Take the lid off the tank and you’ll see a small plastic tube that is clipped to a larger, vertical pipe — this fills the bowl part after a flush. You just slip the WaterSaver on the end of the plastic tube and clip it back on the pipe. No tools are needed.

So head on over to the WaterSaver site and get one for each of your potties. And while you’re at it, get Darryl McMahon’s book, The Emperor’s New Hydrogen Economy — I can’t vouch for the book yet, but I can assure you that the WaterSaver is a simple, effective way to save a bit of water.


  1. We have a 10 year old energy efficient toilet. Hah! We have to flush twice sometimes. Tell me how that makes it efficient?

    Comment by Laurie — November 15, 2009 @ 8:07 am

  2. Laurie —

    We may have the same toilet — about 10 years old, and sometimes a second flush is required. Our toilet saves water — it’s not actually “energy efficient”, except insofar as it takes energy to produce the water for your toilet, and more, if you use a city sewerage system.

    But the answer to the question is “how does it save water” would be simple: old toilets used between 2 and 5 times as much water per flush as new ones. Unless you always flush your toilet twice or five times, you’re saving compared to toilets made before water saving toilets were mandated. And, as with everything, today’s toilets are far better than the ones that came out years ago.

    Comment by Tom Harrison — November 15, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  3. A few mo. back we switched to low flow shower heads, sinks, and toilets and have seen a significant decrease in our water consumption and cost. We should make up the set up cost with in a few months.

    Comment by Josh in Nashville, TN — December 27, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

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