Dual Flush Toilets

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COLUMBIA - It's now possible to save money with every trip you take to the bathroom.

"The adage was if it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown flush it down," said Columbia Water and Light Energy Specialist David Mars. "Now we have toilets that will do that for you."

The solution to savings is the dual flush toilet, which gives users an option between a light flush or heavy flush.  The light flush uses about half the normal amount of water and is designed to get rid of liquid waste while the heavy flush uses a normal 1.6 gallons for everything else.

"The basic reason for buying a dual flush toilet is water savings," said Designer Kitchen and Baths saleman Wes Wise. "The EPA is cracking down on water conservation and they want you to save water wherever you can."

The average dual flush toilet can save a family between 8,000 to 20,000 gallons of water a year according to Green and Save, an environmental website. According to Wise, that's the equivalent of "a good sized swimming pool."

Select A Flush, a company that makes the dual flush toilets, says savings can translate to as much as $200 a year. With the normal dual flush toilet priced around $300, it should pay for itself in less than two years.

Despite the price tag, the dual flush option may be a bargain. When compared to a "good flushing toilet," said Wise, "You can get a dual flush for almost the same price, maybe $50 more."

While the dual flush toilets aren't common household products, they've become popular in Australia, Asia and other areas that experience water shortages.

Mars believes the lack of popularity is because, "(Saving) a little water, in some people's minds, is not that big a deal."

Wise added that "A lot of it is the consumer not being aware. Some of it honestly is that people don't care."

The dual flush option has made its way into Columbia, Mo.  Columbia City Hall changed all of its toilets to dual flush during renovations in 2011.   The University of Missouri has also incorportated dual flush toilets into 10 percent of building spaces. Both city hall and MU have also added low-flow faucets and showerheads to conserve water.