More efficient toilets can save you an average of $110 a year on your utility bills

New toilet can saving water and money

TAMPA - Your toilets are the main source of water in your home. They are responsible for 30 percent of your indoor water consumption, according to the EPA.

Replacing your old toilet with a new, efficient one can help reduce your toilet's water usage by up to 60 percent and save you an average of $110 a year on your utility bills. But a toilet is not just a toilet these days.

"Your options are really endless," said Angie's List founder, Angie Hicks. "Toilets have become very sophisticated over the years. You can find a very basic toilet for a few hundred dollars all the way up to thousands of dollars for the state of the art toilet."

Plumbing Supply Manager, Mary Wright said those state of the art toilets really are more like thrones than ever before. "Different toilets have heated seats or washlets or have open and shut lids that are automatic – all those features are very desirable. They are not necessary, but at the end of the day they are quite nice features to have because they can actually save a lot of time. (Some) have dryers built in to them. They have deodorizers. So the dryer function alone saves on the toilet paper usage."

Here are some factors to consider when buying a toilet:

  • One-piece or two-piece toilet - Experts say the solid construction of a one-piece model makes it easier to clean and less prone to leaks, but also makes it up to 50 percent more expensive.
  • Height of toilet - The standard height ranges from 15 to 17 inches. What's known as "comfort height" ranges from 17 to 19 inches.
  • Bowl size - Another design change to consider is the round versus the elongated bowl. Before buying, it's important to know how much space you have to work with. If you have a small bathroom, an elongated toilet may not work for you.
  • Water flow capacity - Homeowners may purchase a dual-flush toilet where you select either 1.6 gallons of water to flush solid waste or about half that for liquid waste removal.

"Installing a toilet in of itself, is not a real complicated job," Hicks said, "but you have to keep in mind that a toilet can be rather heavy, especially the porcelain, so you are going to need some extra hands to help you put it into place. If you are hiring a pro to install your toilet it's usually going to cost about $150-$250 for the installation alone, but be sure to ask about extras. For example, do you have any added features on your toilet that are going to need specialized installation and are you going to have the old toilet removed and taken away? There may be an extra charge for that."

A botched installation can result in slow leakage under the flooring, which wastes water and eventually rots the subfloor. In addition, porcelain can be extremely heavy and easy to chip or crack. Common DIY mistakes include:

  • Resetting a toilet on a damaged flange.
  • Inadequate or incorrect caulking.
  • Improper compression of the wax seal.

Angie's List Tips: Hiring a plumber

  • Check requirements: Most states require plumbers to be licensed. Municipalities may also have their own plumbing license requirements. Do not confuse a plumbing license with a business license. All businesses must have a business license in the jurisdiction where they operate, but this does not certify that the contractor can legally work as a plumber so ask to see both the business license and plumbing license before making a decision.
  • Comparison shop: Get at least three written estimates from three different plumbers.
  • Installation costs: The average price to install a traditional, homeowner-supplied toilet ranges from $125-$260. The price can fluctuate depending on several factors including whether you want the plumber to haul away the old toilet, whether the toilet has special features and if important plumbing components are in good condition.
  • Installation process: A plumber usually requires an hour or two to install a toilet. The process generally includes turning off and disconnecting the water, repairing the shut-off valve if it's not working properly, draining the old toilet, removing it and inspecting the flange to see if repairs are needed. Then setting the new toilet, connecting the water and testing to make sure the toilet works properly.
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