In days of old, even kings and queens did not have the luxury of hot and cold running water, and flush toilets had not even been imagined. Modern technology has come a long way since the outhouse moved in-house, but there is always room for improvement.
Toilet technology is no exception. I like to find new ways to do things more efficiently and decided to do some research. I also had an ulterior motive: a leaking toilet that seemed impossible to fix. I was on a mission. But how does one go about finding the finest flush?
My quest took me to the best collection of water-efficient products and knowledgeable people on the planet: the Water Smart Innovations Conference and Exposition. This event is the largest urban water-efficiency conference in the world and just happens to be held in Las Vegas every October .
That’s where I found the Stealth, an ultrahigh-efficiency toilet that actually works. To best understand this modern marvel of innovation and design, it helps to have some perspective.
There are still millions of older toilets that use 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush (gpf). In 1995 a new standard set the maximum at 1.6 gpf for all new toilets sold in the U.S. You may recall that some of those early designs did not work very well, often resulting in multiple flushes per use. Many still deliver suboptimal results.
Other examples include high-efficiency toilets that use only 1.28 gpf and some dual-flush models that operate at 1.6 gpf or .8 gpf, depending on the need, averaging about 1.24 gpf. The bottom line (no pun intended) is that flushing can still add up to 27 percent of our indoor water use.
Enter the Stealth toilet, made by Niagara Conservation (www.stealth
toilets.com). This modern miracle is a single-flush design that very effectively uses a minuscule .8 gpf and, as an added benefit, is wonderfully quiet . It is a great-looking toilet and is easy to install.
The patented design features what the manufacturer describes as “dual-flush trapway technology” where both air and water work in unison to enhance performance. Part of the trapway is pressurized with air after each flush, using the force of the water as it fills the internally sealed tank. The next time the toilet is used, the pressurized air is quickly released, creating a siphon action that helps pull the waste from the bowl in conjunction with the normal flushing force of water from the tank. It is over before you know it.
At the conference, I spoke with a friend of mine with firsthand knowledge of the product on a commercial scale. Matt Weinman, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design accredited professional, is director of construction at ZeroNet Energy Solutions. Many of his clients have installed hundreds of Stealth toilets, either in new construction or as retrofits in apartment complexes that get heavy use. According to Weinman, the reports have been very positive in terms of performance and durability.
The Stealth uses 37 percent less water than a high-efficiency toilet and 50 percent less than a standard 1.6 gpf model. If replacing an older 3.5 gpf model, a Stealth can save as much as 20,000 gallons annually. They can be found at The Home Depot branded as Glacier Bay’s two-piece ultrahigh-efficiency toilet.
Niagara specializes in conserving valuable resources. In addition to the toilet, the Stealth System includes Tri Max showerheads and faucet aerators with selectable flow-rates of 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 gallons per minute. Collectively, the products can save an average family of four as much as 40,000 gallons of water annually. Utility costs also are reduced, since less hot water is used.
The potential savings in the U.S. is more than 3 trillion gallons of water and $30 billion in utility bills per year. It is a win-win situation, since now even the most die-hard gamblers can experience a royal flush every day.
Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, a company committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. For more information and links to additional resources relating to this column, or to reach Steve, please visit www.greendream.biz.