Skip Navigation Current Specials!

Are Dual Flush Toilets Worth the Trouble?

One of the ongoing problems rolling through the United States (and much of the world) right now is a lack of fresh water. Homeowners everywhere are doing their part and going green.

Toilets represent an excellent opportunity to save water, as they account for approximately 30 percent of a household’s water expenditure.

So, are dual flush toilets worth the cost? Do they save enough money and water to be worth the time and effort to replace them?

What Is a Dual Flush Toilet?

How does a toilet with a dual flush work? A dual-flush toilet has two buttons instead of a single lever to flush the toilet. One button uses less water than the other. The idea is that if you only need to flush liquids, press the smaller button and use less water to flush.

If you need to flush solids, press the second button to use more water to ensure everything flushes completely. The internals of the toilet work slightly differently from a standard single-flush toilet, which does make dual flush toilets slightly more expensive.


Engineering More Efficient Toilets

In the 1970s and earlier, many toilets used as much as three to seven gallons of water per flush, which is a massive water expenditure. If your grandparents’ homes still have ancient toilets installed, you should definitely encourage them to upgrade.

Later, toilets in the 80s used two to four gallons of water per flush. In 1992, the EPA passed a law that said new toilets could only use 1.6 gallons of water per flush or less, and it was signed into law by President George Bush.

Engineers and toilet designers were given enough time to develop new ways to improve efficiency. They designed a new flush valve with a large three-inch diameter, allowing more water to enter the bowl quickly. The drain size was also increased to reduce the chances of a clog. The design also improved how well the water forced waste down the drain.

Traditional, single-flush toilets simply use a pressure siphoning system to dispose of waste, while dual-flush toilets are designed to utilize gravity to dispose of waste down a large trapway.

Dual Flush Toilets vs. Single Flush Toilets: Water Savings

dual flush toilet double buttons

Compared to the toilets before 1992, dual flush toilets save an enormous amount of water. Even compared to toilets that adhere to the 1.6 gallons per flush standard, studies have shown that dual flush toilets can save up to 67 percent of the water you might have used.

Toilet makers like Kohler, American Standard, Camora, Toto, and Woodbridge eliminate waste by using between 0.9 and 1.1 gallons per flush. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 13,000 gallons of water can be saved annually in homes that use dual flush toilets.

These cost savings have been significant enough that countries around the world have begun requiring these new toilets, such as Australia.

Contributing to a Sustainable Future with Water Conservation & Reduced Water Bills

These cutting-edge dual flush toilets contribute significantly to saving water and reducing your water bill, but they are also the smart choice for environmentally conscious individuals and businesses.

If businesses and homeowners around the city reduced their water consumption by something as simple and effective as dual flush toilets, the strain on municipal water utilities would significantly lessen. It is vital not to pull more water from rivers and underground water supplies that can be replenished naturally.

Too much water removed from natural water sources has drastic effects on nature and wildlife, and can change entire ecosystems.

Average Cost of Dual Flush Toilets & Installation

You can get cheaper dual flush toilets for as low as $100 or as high as more than $3,000, but the average dual-flush toilet costs around $500, according to Angie’s List. The cost to install a new dual flush toilet is around $373. The actual cost depends on whether you need larger drains, are changing the toilet’s location, or if it’s a simple installation. So, for a total estimated average in the United States, a new dual flush toilet and installation will run around $873.

Doing the Math: Does a Dual Flush Toilet Pay for Itself?

Let’s do two scenarios where we do a little math: one where you have a toilet that uses four gallons a flush and one where your current toilet adheres to the EPA’s standard of 1.6 gallons per flush. We will assume an average rate of $8.75 per kilogallon (one thousand gallons). Most water rates vary throughout the United States and often have a tiered plan based on how many thousands of gallons of water you use.

Will upgrading to a dual-flush toilet pay for itself in water savings?

Cost Savings Example 1: Replacing 3.5 Gallon Per Flush Toilet

Let’s assume a family of four, each using the toilet six times a day, five liquid and one solid. At three gallons each flush, the toilet is using 84 gallons of water per day, for a total of 30,660 gallons per year. At a rate of $8.75 per thousand gallons, that is $268.27 per year just for the water your toilet uses.

An average $350 dual flush toilet uses around 1.1 gallons per flush for liquids and 1.6 gallons per flush for solids. More expensive toilets can improve those numbers. In the same scenario, the dual flush toilet uses 22 gallons a day for liquids and 6.4 gallons per flush for solids, for a total of 28.4 gallons per day. That is 10,366 gallons per year. At $8.75 per thousand gallons, that’s $90.70.

So, that is a water savings of $177.56 per year, with an average cost of $873 for both a new dual flush toilet and its installation, which will take just under five years to pay for itself.

Cost Savings Example 2: Replacing 1.6 Gallon Per Flush Toilet

With the same scenario of four people, a 1.6-gallon toilet will use 38.4 gallons per day for 14,016 gallons of water per year. This works out to a toilet water bill of $122.64 per year.

The dual flush toilet stays the same at $90.70 per year, for a savings of $31.94. With those savings, it will take 27.33 years to pay for itself, which isn’t a very convincing argument.

Is It Worth the Trouble to Upgrade to a Dual Flush Toilet?

We can see from the dual toilet cost analysis above that if you are replacing a three-gallon toilet, it pays for itself in under five years. Generally, the average homeowner replaces a toilet every ten to fifteen years, though toilets can last up to 50 years. In our opinion, it is worth upgrading an older, water-inefficient toilet to a dual flush system.

A standard, EPA-compliant 1.6-gallon flush toilet that is fully functional with a payback period of 27 years is a much less appealing prospect. Replacing it will depend on how environmentally concerned you are. Water saving is a very important concern, but that’s not to say that your money might be better spent on better home insulation, more efficient AC or water heater, or other environmentally friendly home upgrades.

If you plan to remodel your bathroom and replace the toilet anyway, it’s wise to replace your toilet with a new, two button dual flush toilet so that you can save water.

Can I Retrofit My Old Toilet to A Dual Flush Toilet?

There are adaptors and dual flush conversion kits that will turn your standard toilet into a water-saving dual-flush toilet. These kits run from $30 to $100 and can usually convert your water-guzzling toilet into a much more water-efficient one. There are DIY kits and guides that can help you convert your toilet.

There are dual flush adaptor kits available for most toilets unless yours is extremely old (older than 1970s). If you are unsure what kit to get, if there is a kit available for your toilet, or if you just want help installing it, call your local plumber.

Dauenhauer provides expert plumbing services in Lexington & Louisville, Kentucky. Schedule online with us so we can help you look for ways you can save water and money.

When Should You Replace Your Toilet?

A toilet isn’t a luxury; you need it to be functional. It’s one of your home’s most important household appliances. Signs you should replace your toilet may include:

  • Consistent Leaks: The most common source of a leak is the wax seal, which connects your toilet to the drain in the floor. This is a relatively inexpensive fix. If the wax ring is not the source of the leak, it’s time to replace the toilet.
  • Wobbles: A wobbling toilet could be the sign of a loose bolt, or the wax seal is breaking down, both of which are easy fixes. If you check these and it still wobbles, it’s likely there is a leak that is warping and rotting the wood floor, leading to instability.
  • Visible Cracks in the Toilet: Cracked toilets can easily leak, which can cause damage to both the toilet itself and the floor around it. Cracks almost always mean that the toilet will need to be replaced.
  • Frequent Clogs: If you regularly experience clogs with your toilet, it is a sign that your toilet isn’t flushing correctly. There may be an object stuck in the toilet, making clogs more likely.
  • Constantly Running: A toilet that constantly runs likely has internal damage. It could be that the internal mechanisms of the toilet need to be replaced, or there could be unseen damage that will require replacement.
  • Ancient or Aged: Toilets don’t really have an expected lifespan. They can last up to 50 years with regular use. If your toilet usually works but is getting finicky, it may be time to consider replacing it.
  • Uncomfortable: One of the most common reasons to replace a toilet is it doesn’t fit your comfort needs. Perhaps you need a shorter, smaller toilet so that children can easily use it. Or you need an elongated toilet with a taller seat for comfort or for the elderly who have trouble standing up from low sitting positions.

Contact Dauenhauer to learn more about dual flush toilet installation services in Lexington & Louisville, Kentucky.

Back to Top