It’s a good week to be a plumber. Wanted posters in New Mexico have the public on the lookout for “bad flappers.” North Carolina is asking its residents to be leak detectives and giving them packets of dye to trace errant water. And a number of utilities across the country are offering customers WaterSense labeled faucet aerators to cut down on water use. Yes, it’s Fix a Leak Week, an annual celebration of water misers held by the Environmental Protection Agency.
More than half the water used in the home flows through the bathroom. The EPA says that if one in every 10 American homes upgraded a full-sized bathroom with WaterSense labeled fixtures, the nation could save about 74 billion gallons of water and about $1.6 billion in utility bills per year. You can estimate your own savings by using a calculator on the EPA’s website.
Advances in plumbing technology have resulted in water-efficient toilets that use significantly less water but still deliver the flush you expect. In fact, of the 11 toilets recommended in Consumer Reports’ latest toilet tests,
five are WaterSense models that use only 1.28 gallons per flush, yet performed comparably with top-scoring toilets that use 1.4 to 1.6 gallons per flush in our tough, solid-waste tests. And this year, all the toilets we tested aced our liquid-waste tests, which is a first.
By law, all toilets made since 1995 must use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush but toilets that meet the EPA’s WaterSense requirements use just 1.28 gallons per flush or less, on average. And you don’t have to spend more to save. The two CR Best Buys in our Ratings were WaterSense models that cost only $100—the Aquasource AT1203-00 sold at Lowe's and the Glacier Bay Dual Flush N2316 sold at Home Depot. Our top-scoring model was the American Standard Champion 4 2002.014, which costs only $300.
—Mary H.J. Farrell