Wondering how much water is used to flush a toilet? This is a common question many homeowners have, as toilets account for nearly 30% of indoor water usage in a typical home. Knowing how much water your toilet uses can help understand your overall water consumption and identify ways to conserve.
In this article, we’ll explore how much water is used to flush a toilet on average, compare toilet water use to other household fixtures, look at different types of flush systems, and provide tips for saving water when flushing.
The average toilet uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush, though low-flow models can use as little as 1.28 gallons per flush or even less. Compared to taking a shower, doing laundry, or running the faucet, toilets use by far the most water overall.
But you can reduce your toilet’s water consumption by installing a WaterSense approved high-efficiency model, adjusting the flush valve, or just being mindful of flushing frequency. Keep reading to learn more facts about how much water is used to flush a toilet and how you can conserve at home!
How many gallons of water are used per toilet flush?
How many times have you flushed a toilet without even thinking about how much water gets used per flush? Most of us don’t consider the water usage, but the numbers may surprise you. Here is a breakdown of the average water use per toilet flush:
- Standard toilets – These are the most common, everyday toilet models found in most homes. They use about 1.6 gallons of water per flush. While technology has improved efficiency over the years, standard gravity-flush toilets still tend to be relatively inefficient with water use compared to newer models.
- Low-flow toilets – As concerns over water conservation grew, low-flow toilets were introduced to help reduce residential water use. The current standard for low-flow certification is 1.28 gallons or less per flush. Most new toilets today meet low-flow standards.
- Common terms associated with low-flow toilets:
- High Efficiency Toilets (HETs)
- WaterSense Toilets
- Ultra Low Flow (ULF) Toilets
- Common terms associated with low-flow toilets:
- Older Toilet Models – Up until 1994, some toilet models used a whopping 3.5 gallons per flush or more, with luxury models using up to 7 gallons per flush! Fortunately, laws were passed in the 90s mandating lower flow rates. Any toilet made before 1980 is likely very inefficient by today’s standards.
So a standard, new toilet will use 1.28-1.6 gallons each flush, while older toilets may use significantly more. Low-flow models are now the norm for any new installation. Conserving water depends hugely on installing efficient toilets with low per-flush water volume.
How much water do toilets use compared to other household fixtures?
When looking at total indoor water usage in a typical single family home, toilets account for the highest percentage compared to other common household fixtures and appliances. Here is a breakdown:
|Estimated % of Indoor Water Usage
As you can see based on average household water consumption statistics, toilets use over a quarter of total indoor water – more than any other single fixture or appliance. Showers and washing machines are the second and third highest water users, accounting for around 20% each on average.
It’s important to keep in mind that percentages can vary based on family size, certain fixtures used more heavily, or differences like having a vegetable garden watered through the house line. But in general, toilets rise to the top for water usage in residential settings.
Some figures are even higher when evaluating only the bathroom – for example, toilets may account for nearly 75% of total bathroom water use compared to sinks, showers and baths combined. This demonstrates why focusing efforts on installing efficient toilets can have an outsized impact on reducing water waste.
With such high relative water usage, small changes made to your toilets – like installing WaterSense models or adjusting flush valves – can lead to substantial savings in bathroom and household water conservation.
Does the type of flush system impact water usage?
Yes, the type of flush system a toilet uses can have a significant impact on the amount of water used per flush. Here is an overview of some common toilet flush system types and how they compare:
The gravity-flush toilet is the most widely used flush system in homes today. They rely on gravity and the weight of the water in the tank to siphon water into the bowl when flushed.
- Tend to use more water – typically require 1.6 gallons per flush to effectively clear waste
- Most affordable flush system
- Gravity siphoning can lose power over time leading to inefficient flushing
These toilets use compressed air in a sealed tank to pressurize the water upon flushing. This produces a very effective, high-powered flush.
- Use lower water volumes – generally 1.28 gpf or less
- More expensive than gravity toilets
- Internal components wear out faster
- Noisy when flushed
Dual flush toilets offer light and heavy flush options in one model. Light flushes use less than 1 gpf.
- Saves water through low volume light flushes
- Requires user interaction to maximize efficiency
As you can see, flush technology impacts a toilet’s water efficiency. Selecting a well-designed, effective flush system paired with low-flow volumes offers the best in both performance and water savings.
How many times is a toilet flushed per day on average?
When surveying household habits, studies have found that the average person flushes the toilet 5 times per day. This estimate takes into account factors like:
- Number of occupants
- Frequency of toilet use
- Tendency to flush unnecessarily
Of course, actual toilet flushes can vary dramatically day to day and household to household. For example, households with:
- More occupants will naturally have more flushes per day
- Small children may have more frequent flushes
- Teenagers and adults tend to flush more than necessary out of habit
Additionally, dimensions like the number of bathrooms, presence of guests, tendency to flush beyond actual need, and water-saving habits of the family will impact flush frequency. Despite variables across households, however, 5 average daily flushes per person is a widely cited statistic.
To estimate your home’s total toilet flushes, simply multiply the average 5 flushes by the number of occupants. For a family of 4, that would be 20 flushes per day on average. This can provide insight into your household’s toilet water usage and where you may be able to reduce unnecessary flushing.
What are some tips to conserve water from toilet flushing?
With toilets being the leading water user indoors, small changes in your flushing habits and toilet efficiency can add up to significant water savings. Here are some useful tips:
Install WaterSense High-Efficiency Toilets
Replacing pre-1992 toilets with new WaterSense models can lead to 20+ fewer gallons used per person, per day. The latest toilets use just 1.28 gpf or less.
Adjust Flush Handle/Valve Setting
Some handles or tank valves allow adjusting the flush volume used. Reducing the valve opening to minimize water flow during flushing can save up to 2 gallons per day.
Use Toilet Tank Displacement Items
Adding a tank bank or containers displaces water so less flows to the bowl per flush. Displacement bags, tubes, or bottles can save up to 1 gallon per day.
Consider Dual Flush Toilets
For significant savings, dual flush toilets with full and reduced volume options conserve water. Light flushing uses just 0.8-1 gpf while still clearing liquid waste.
Flush Only When Needed
Simply flushing unnecessarily less often makes a difference. Remember, if it’s yellow, let it mellow. Wait to flush solids only.
Implementing any of these tips will reduce your toilet water usage. But for maximum impact, install efficient 1.28 gpf or less WaterSense models, avoid flushing unnecessarily, and use tank displacement methods to achieve the highest toilet water savings. Small efforts add up with toilets!
As we’ve explored, the average toilet uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush, though low-flow models can use as little as 1.28 gallons. Modern toilets still account for over 25% of indoor water usage – more than washing machines, showers, and other major household fixtures combined. Gravity-flush systems are most common, but innovations like pressure-assisted and dual-flush toilets can maximize efficiency.
On average, toilets get flushed 5 times per person per day. But simple changes like installing WaterSense certified high-efficiency toilets, adjusting flush valves, and avoiding unnecessary flushing can lead to meaningful water savings over time.
Now that you know key facts and figures around how much water is used to flush a toilet, both on average and with conservation methods, you can better understand your home’s water use.
Focusing efforts on installing low-flow models paired with environmentally friendly flushing habits are important ways to reduce your bathroom and household water footprint. Small changes add up when it comes to how much water is used to flush a toilet!