The requirement appears to be working. Stephanie Thornton, who oversees partner outreach for the WaterSense program, reports the EPA has not received any complaints about the newer toilets.
In fact, notes John Koeller, a Chicago-based technical adviser to the Alliance for Water Efficiency and a third-party tester, the average HET outperforms WaterSense requirements by flushing 650 grams.
Improvements, such as better hydraulic designs, larger valve openings and trapways, and jet-fed bowls, mean far fewer clogs or double flushes. “Toilets are no longer designed by model makers who are looking for aesthetics,” says Koeller. “They’re designed by engineers who are paying attention to the hydraulics.”
And that makes HETs easier to sell than the troubled first versions of 1.6-gpf toilets that hit the market in 1994, say pros and manufacturers.
It also helps that consumers don’t necessarily have to pay more. Research shows that higher efficiency does not mean higher cost; like traditional models, there is a range from basic to premium. Installation is the same except for a few high-tech models with electrical components.
HETs also can be used to earn credits under the LEED for Homes standard and the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines.
Still, not every contractor is hurrying to install HETs. Melrose, Mass., plumbing and HVAC contractor Albert Cairns says pressure-assisted HETs, which use technology similar to that in airplane toilets, flush in a big, quick swoop and are noisy. “I wouldn’t install them in my own house,” he says.