How to Reduce the Water Usage of Any Toilet


With water scarcity becoming an increasing concern around the world, it’s important for homeowners to look for ways to reduce water usage in their homes. One of the biggest water guzzlers in any home is the toilet, which can account for nearly 30% of indoor water use. The good news is there are several easy and affordable ways to reduce the water usage of your toilet without compromising performance. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide tips on how to reduce toilet water usage through simple behavior changes, toilet adjustments, and upgrades. With a few easy tweaks, you can dramatically cut down on the amount of water your toilet uses each day.

Check for Leaks

The first step is to check your toilet for any leaks, which can waste hundreds of gallons of water per day. Conduct a dye test by putting a few drops of food coloring into the tank and waiting 10 minutes. If color appears in the bowl, you have a leak. Most often, toilet leaks occur at the flapper valve or the fill valve. Replace any faulty flapper valves and make sure the fill valve is set to the correct level. Adjusting the float arm lower can prevent overfilling of the tank. Also inspect the tank to bowl gasket and bolts for any leaks. Replacing a worn out toilet flapper valve and ensuring proper fill valve adjustment can easily save 30-50 gallons per day for the average household.

Adjust the Tank Water Level

Most toilet tanks are filled to a level higher than necessary, leading to excess water usage with each flush. Adjust the tank water level down so it is 1⁄2 to 1 inch below the normal level. You can do this by adjusting the float arm downward or installing an adjustable toilet tank water leveler. This simple adjustment reduces the amount of water in the tank, saving you up to 1 gallon per flush. Just be careful not to adjust the level down too far or it could compromise the flush performance.

Install a Low-Flow Toilet

Replacing an old, inefficient toilet with a new low-flow or high-efficiency toilet can provide dramatic water savings. Low-flow toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush, while new WaterSense labeled high-efficiency models use 0.8 to 1.1 gallons per flush. Installing a WaterSense toilet in a home built before 1994 can reduce water usage by 16,000 gallons per year. Look for models that score high in independent testing for both water efficiency and waste removal. The initial upgrade cost pays back through water savings within just a few years in most regions.

Reduce Unnecessary Flushes

Changing simple habits can reduce flush frequency and save significant amounts of water over time. Avoid flushing for liquid waste disposal. Only flush when solid waste is present. Teach all household members to adopt this habit to multiply water savings. Installing a tank bank or dual flush retrofit kit allows you to select a lighter flush for liquid waste only. You can also save water by turning off automatic sensor flushes on urinals or toilets used infrequently.

Install Toilet Dams, Flow Restrictors

Toilet dams and flow restrictors can be easily installed inside the toilet tank to reduce the flush water volume. Toilet tank dams displace water and reduce the amount of water that enters the bowl during a flush. Flow restrictors attach to the fill valve to limit refill water flow into the tank. Both devices are inexpensive and reversible methods to save up to 0.5 gallons per flush. Ensure any tank devices do not interfere with the flushing mechanism or performance.

Consider Composting Toilets

In some cases, switching to waterless composting toilets can eliminate toilet water use entirely. Composting toilets contain and decompose human waste through microbial action instead of using water. They are suitable for green building projects and homes off the grid without plumbing. Composting toilets require more maintenance but can conserve thousands of gallons of water per year for households. They also create usable compost as a beneficial byproduct.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much water can I save by adjusting my toilet’s water level?

Adjusting your toilet’s tank water level down about 1 inch can save up to 1 gallon per flush. For a household with average toilet usage, this can save approximately 5,000 gallons per year.

What are the best low-flow or high-efficiency toilet models?

Top-rated low-flow and high-efficiency toilet models include the Toto Drake II, American Standard Champion 4, and Kohler Highline. Any WaterSense certified model with a flush volume of 1.28 gpf or less is a good option for water savings.

How often should I check my toilet for leaks?

It’s a good idea to check your toilet tank and connections for leaks at least once per year using a food coloring dye test. Catching toilet leaks early prevents significant water waste.

Will toilet flow restrictors affect flushing performance?

Toilet flow restrictors that simply reduce tank refill speed should not affect flushing power. But excessive water flow limits could result in an incomplete flush. Test any restrictor thoroughly and adjust as needed to prevent clogging issues.

Can I compost human waste from composting toilets?

The end product from a composting toilet is safe to use after proper decomposition time of around 1-2 years. However, most municipalities prohibit use of waste derived from the public sewage system. Check local regulations regarding use of composted human waste products.


With a few simple fixes and behavior changes, any home can significantly reduce the amount of water used by toilets. Start by checking for leaks, adjusting tank water level, and reducing unnecessary flushing. Bigger upgrades like installing WaterSense certified high-efficiency models or composting toilets can boost savings further. Implementing even a few of these tips can cut your toilet water usage in half or more, saving thousands of gallons per year and money on utility bills while also conserving water for the future. With smart strategies, we can work towards a more water efficient home.