August, 2007
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Green News + Views


High-Efficiency Toilets Get WaterSense Nod

A recent government survey showed at least 36 states are anticipating local, regional or statewide water shortages by 2013.

Americans now use an average of 100 gallons of water each day — enough to fill 1,600 drinking glasses! The average family of four uses about 400 gallons of water each day, and toilets represent a whopping 26 percent of all home indoor water use.

Recognizing the need to help Americans use water more efficiently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) followed the path it had blazed with its Energy Star program by developing the WaterSense program. While Energy Star focuses on products that meet specific energy-efficiency criteria, WaterSense certifies products that conserve use of water.

Toilet obvious choice
Given its high demand on water supplies and distribution systems, the toilet seemed the obvious product to target first.  
In January, the agency released a final specification for the latest generation of water-saving, high-efficiency toilets. Only those that use less than 1.3 gallons per flush and meet performance standards for quality will qualify for EPA’s WaterSense label to help consumers make informed buying decisions.

Label identifies high-performing water-efficient products
According to the EPA, the WaterSense label will help consumers identify high-performing, water-efficient products,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, Benjamin H. Grumbles. “By purchasing WaterSense-labeled plumbing fixtures, consumers can help protect the water supply and their

The new toilets are the product of extensive research in fluid dynamics conducted over the last six years. While the exterior differs little from traditional toilets, interior redesign and new mechanical approaches significantly improve flow and reduce water usage.

Reduces water bills by about 10 percent
During the development of its WaterSense program, EPA analysis determined that toilets represented a significant target for its water-efficiency activities. It is estimated that high-efficiency toilets can reduce water bills by about 10 percent. Replacing older, inefficient toilets, which are responsible for much of the water wasted in American homes, could save more than 900 billion gallons of water a year — enough to supply almost 10 million households.

Certified by independent laboratory testing
WaterSense-labeled toilets are certified by independent laboratory testing to meet rigorous criteria for both performance and efficiency. Only high-efficiency toilets that complete the third-party certification process can earn the WaterSense label.

Eight Kohler toilet models and 20 Caroma toilet models are among those certified to carry the new EPA-designated WaterSense label.
WaterSense is a voluntary public-private partnership that recognizes high-performance products and processes. The WaterSense program also seeks to promote consumer use of water-efficient products, certification for water industry professionals and innovation in water-efficient product manufacturing. Companies that manufacture, sell or distribute household plumbing fixtures are encouraged to join the WaterSense program, which is also open to water
utilities, trade associations, state and local governments, and non-governmental
organizations. Go to

Bathroom faucets next on list
In the future, a broad spectrum of water-efficient products will carry the WaterSense label, from bathroom faucets to lawn irrigation products.

Find a WaterSense labeled high-efficiency toilet
Find a complete list of toilets at

Test Your WaterSense
Think you know everything there is to know about water? You can’t be sure until you test your WaterSense. Try EPA’s new interactive online quiz. Move the water- efficiency hero. Flow through water pipes and answer water-efficiency questions while avoiding water-wasting monsters such as Sogosaurus and Drainiac. Use the information you learn on the WaterSense Web site and test your knowledge of water-using behaviors and common water-saving opportunities.

Go to You’re never too young to develop your water sense, so a kid’s version of the test is also available.