With today’s growing concerns regarding saving water and cutting down on utility costs, more people are directing their attention to their toilet. The toilet accounts for as much as 30% of total household water usage and as such, should be a primary concern to cut down on your water wastage. However, the toilet isn’t exactly most people area of expertise when it comes to choosing the right design for your needs. Here is a breakdown of the most common types of toilets, and their functions.

1. Gravity The vast majority, as much as 99% of household toilets are of the gravity type. Since the inception of 6-litre toilets, gravity type flushing action has been vastly improved. A gravity bowl works on siphoning action, pulling water from the bowl and with today’s design technology, 6-litre gravity toilets actually outperform old large volume toilets.

2. Vacuum-assist Unlike gravity toilets, vacuum-assist toilets have a mechanism that creates a small vacuum in the trap to aid in the flushing water from the bowl. The fill valve and early closing flappers are identical to gravity type toilets.

3. Pressure-assist This toilet design doesn’t use a traditional flapper mechanism, instead there is a vessel inside the toilet tank that traps air. The tank fills with water and uses the pressure from the water line to compress the trapped air. This compressed air is released and instead of a siphoning action sucking water from the bowl, you have a pressurized «push», clearing waste from the bowl. These toilets are much louder than gravity type and vacuum-assist toilets, they are also more expensive and can usually be found in commercial buildings and institutions.

4. Tip Bucket This zany toilet utilizes a bucket located at the top of the toilet tank. The bucket, rather than the tank is filled with water, and when the lever is depressed, the bucket tips over into the tank and drains into the bowl. The basic idea is the same as a gravity type toilet, but the difference is with the water stored in the bucket, you don’t need to have a flapper in the tank, so you have no chance of leaks and no internal components to replace. There is also the possibility of an adjustable tank making the toilet adaptable to both 10-inch and 12-inch gaps between the bottom of the base and the wall.

5. Dual Flush Toilets Dual Flush Toilets are unique in that they have two handles or buttons. One handle typically flushes a 1 gallon or 4 liter flush while the other handle delivers a full tank. This allows for a reduced flush for liquid wastes and a full flush for solid wastes. Dual flush technology has been mandated in Australia for many years and is very common in Europe as well, however the technology is just starting to catch on in North America. This toilet type can actually use up to 26% less water than any other 1.6 gallon toilet.

When choosing a toilet design for your home, be aware of the possibility of leakage and the toilet tank volume. Older toilets can be retrofitted or replaced and the initial cost will pay itself off in spades when you start counting the gallons of water a day that can be saved. With only a little awareness, you can drastically cut down your family’s water footprint and reduce your utility bills.