Options abound when making a toilet choice

Perhaps more than any other appliance in our homes, we take toilets for granted. Although this is understandable, the history and current trends in toilet manufacturing are really quite interesting.

According to my research, the first flushing toilet belonged to King Minos of Crete, 2,800 years ago. A toilet was also discovered in the tomb of a Western Han Dynasty Chinese king that dates to between 206 B.C. and 24 A.D.

Despite these ancient attempts, invention of the first flush toilet is generally attributed to Sir John Harrington of England in 1596. He was the godson of Queen Elizabeth I and apparently built the toilet for her. It was almost 200 years later before the first patent for the flushing toilet was issued to Alexander Cummings in 1775. Alas, though he was possibly the inventor of the float valve and indeed owned a toilet manufacturing company, Thomas Crapper did not invent the first toilet.

In recent years, with the swelling of human population, and therefore, the use of our most precious resource, water, toilet engineering has taken great strides. If you need to change one or more of your toilets, or just plan on going “green,” here are some choices for your consideration:

Low-flow toilets: In 1995 the National Energy Policy Act went into effect. This act requires that all newly installed toilets in the U.S. use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. These toilets are generally referred to as “low flow.” In fact, one metro Atlanta county, DeKalb, has mandated that toilets (as well as kitchen and sink faucets and shower heads) must be low flow before water service can be turned on for a new customer.

HET toilets: HET stands for high-efficiency toilets. These toilets with a 1.28 gallon flush use 20 percent less water than low-flow toilets. Currently the states of Texas and California require the use of high efficiency toilets.

Dual flush toilets: Although the concept has been around for at least 20 years, dual flush toilets are becoming more popular. Using two buttons or a two directional handle, these toilets allow you to use half the amount of water when flushing liquids only. A full flush is available for flushing solids. Devices that can convert 3.5 or 1.6 gallon toilets to dual flush are available from AquaPro Solutions LLC and Aquanotion Ltd. The conversion devices are affordable and a great solution for the green conscious consumer.

Pressure-assisted toilets: Using the pressure from your house’s water supply system, this toilet flushes with as much as three times the force of a conventional gravity flush toilet. One advantage to the pressure-assisted toilet is the short duration of the flush sound.

Power-assisted toilets: These use an electric pump to move water and waste from the bowl. These toilets have no need for the conventional tank behind the toilet. Currently these toilets are priced in the thousands of dollars and, therefore, impractical for most of us.