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New water-saving toilets help save energy, money

Dear Jim: We just remodeled our house to make room for a first-floor lavatory. Our water bills have been high lately, so I want to install a water-saving toilet. Which new models are the best to install? - Guy D.

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Dear Jim: We just remodeled our house to make room for a first-floor lavatory. Our water bills have been high lately, so I want to install a water-saving toilet. Which new models are the best to install? - Guy D.

Dear Guy: Depending upon the size of your family, flushing toilets may be the greatest water-consuming activity in your home. Some old toilets used as much as 7 gpf (gallons per flush), but most likely your old ones use between 3.5 and 5.0 gpf. While you are buying one for your new lavatory, you might consider replacing your other old toilets with new water-saving models.

Installing water-saving toilets can also help reduce your heating costs during winter. Each time you flush an old toilet, about 5 gallons of very cold water enter your house to refill the toilet tank. While this water is resting in the pipes, it draws heat from your house as the water warms to room temperature. This makes your furnace run a little longer.

By law, all new toilets can use a maximum of only 1.6 gpf, and they work very well with this lower water usage. If you have boys in your family, consider installing a residential urinal. Some use less than 1 gpf. Some designs are built into the wall and can be recessed when not being used.

When typical gravity-type toilets flush, most of the water flows down inside the back of the toilet. This creates a suction that draws the water and waste out of the toilet bowl and down the drain. Just a little water comes out from under rim to wash the bowl.

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When water-saving gravity toilets were first introduced years ago, they sometimes required double flushing to empty the bowl. This defeated their purpose. The new designs of 1.6-gpf toilets flush as well as the old 5-gpf models.

Several companies now offer super-water-saving, 1.1-gpf gravity models that flush effectively. If you still prefer more water flow for solid wastes, dual-flush models are available. Push the flush handle one way for 1.1 gpf for liquid wastes and push it the other way for 1.6 gpf for solid wastes. Other than the two-way flush handle, they look like ordinary toilets.

For a more positive flush, get a pressure-assist toilet. When the water fills the tank, it compresses air in the tank. When the toilet is flushed, this air pressure forces the water out faster creating more suction from the bowl. Pressure-assist toilets flush very fast and are noisier than standard gravity toilets, so you may not want one near a bedroom.

If your house is built on a slab or you plan to install a toilet in a basement making it difficult to add a drain, install a macerating toilet. It uses a grinder/pump to vertically lift the waste water to a drain.

The following companies offer water-saving toilets: American Standard, (800) 442-1902, www.americanstandard-us.com; Briggs Plumbing, (800) 627-4443, www.briggsplumbing.com; Kohler, (800) 456-4537, www.us.kohler.com; and Saniflo, (800) 363-5874, www.saniflo.com; and Toto, (770) 282-8686, www.totousa.com .

Dear Jim: We have a problem keeping everyone comfortable. The furnace thermostat is in the dining room, which we seldom use. Is there any thermostat available we can move to different rooms where we are? - Kim B.

Dear Kim: Since thermostats are hardwired to the furnace, it is difficult to move them. Honeywell offers a new thermostat (Prestige HD Comfort System) to replace your existing one. It has a large high-def touch screen.

It also includes a handheld wireless Personal Comfort Control. This is basically a thermostat that communicates and overrides the main one in the dining room. In effect, this is like being able to move the main thermostat from room to room.

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Send inquiries to James Dulley, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244, or visit www.dulley.com

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