Bathroom References

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

December 1, 2008

Some Really Expensive Toilets are Terrible. Intini, J. 2006. Maclean’s. 119(10):84. (Magazine article)

If you’re thinking about greywater for the toilet idea… not all low-flow toilets are created equally efficient, and price is not always indicative of a toilet’s efficiency. This and other points are made by Bill Gualey, an engineer who tests the performance of low-flow toilets. Obviously invested seriously in the subject, Gualey has engineered a test to gauge how well low-flow toilets perform, and he is currently working on a new ranking system similar to the energy star rating for appliances that will identify the best-performing toilets for shoppers.

Water Savers. 1995. Consumer Reports. 60(2):118—124. (Magazine article)

Consumer Reports tested and rated 29 low-flow showerheads and 32 low-flow toilets and compares them in this report, by cost, brand, and performance. The article also reports on payback time for low-flow fixtures, which is 2 years, or less for a showerhead, and 9 years for a low-flow toilet.

Low-flow toilets with performance ratings in the very good-to-better range cost from $200-$700. That may be a hard sell for some budgets so Consumer Reports has added suggestions for retrofitting existing toilets to save water, including tank water displacement and dual-flush levers. While more cost effective in the short run, such options are not as effective at saving water in the long run.

Consumer Reports believes low-flow fixtures to be effective at saving water and costs and more efficient than the conventional models. One caveat: if they don’t perform well, you might be taking longer showers and making more flushes.

Toilet Papers: Recycling Waste and Conserving Water. Van der Ryn, S. 1995. Ecological Design Press. Sausalito, California. (Book)

Alternative home waste disposal methods, such as composting toilets and the use of grey water in and around the home are important sustainable solutions. “Toilet Papers” outlines a number of viable options for composting toilets, complete with illustrations and detailed diagrams. Like a primer to grey water systems, the book describes how plumbing can be modified to direct grey water for use as irrigation or toilet water. Lavatory history and a human anatomy lesson make the rest of the book an interesting resource and it serves as a how-to manual for those folks with either some building and plumbing expertise, or simple determination.

Water. 2008. Rocky Mountain Institute Homepage.

The Rocky Mountain Institute’s website offers advice and information on the following water topics:

  • Water-efficient fixtures & appliance
  • Landscaping and irrigation
  • Greywater systems, compost toilets, and rain collection
  • Wastewater treatment systems
  • Drinking water quality

Civil action: promoting water efficiency and protecting rivers

This site is comprehensive and useful. Regarding composting toilets, there is a warning to homeowners that many local jurisdictions are unfamiliar with the technology, and therefore do not have codes enacted — making it difficult to pass inspections. The Rocky Mountain Institute provides numerous links for further information on all of these important topics.

Products for Water Conservation. Green Home Building Homepage.

A good source page for information on water conservation products, Green Home provides links to suppliers or manufactures of:

  • Conservation Kits
  • Clothes Washers
  • Composting Toilets
  • Bathroom Fixtures
  • Grey Water Supplies
  • Barrels & Tanks

Check out this site to get ideas for your next home project.


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