If you live in an area where droughts or water rationing are issues you must contend with, there are many things you can do to conserve water. One trending option that has passionate supporters and detractors is selective flushing: choosing to only flush after defecating rather than after every pee break. Here's a little info about this tactic to help you decide if this is a good option for you.
Why Not Flush Pee?
The most compelling reason proponents of not flushing after peeing give is the amount of water it can save. Toilet water is potable. Provided your toilet is clean, you could actually drink the water in the bowl and not get sick. However, peeing and pooping in the water renders it unusable until it is sent to the waste treatment plant, cleaned and either sent to a nearby lack or rerouted back to your home as grey water.
A single person flushes away approximately 7.5 gallons of drinkable water per day (1.5 gallons of water per flush, 5 flushes each day). For a family of four, that equates to 30 gallons a day and 10,950 gallons per year. That's the equivalent of 644 showers at about 8 minutes apiece. Even cutting the number of times your family flushes the toilet in half will save over 5,000 gallons per year.
Another reason to stop flushing pee is it can save you a little bit of money. Unless you're into extreme frugality, however, the amount of money saved (less than $10 per year) may not be worth dealing with some of the drawbacks associated with this method of water conservation.
Concerns Related to Letting Pee Sit
One major concern opponents of the "Let it Mellow" movement cite is the idea that letting urine sit in the toilet bowl is not very sanitary. Urine itself is sterile and doesn't contain any living organisms such as bacteria. It can, however, pick up bacteria and viruses on its way out of the body. The risk of catching a disease from coming into contact with urine is low, though, since most organisms can't live outside the body for very long.
Possibly the most common complaint people have about letting pee sit in the toilet for long periods of time is its unpleasant smell and look. This is particularly of concern in places where the bathroom is shared with strangers (such as a public facility) or when guests come into the home. Additionally, urine can stain the toilet after awhile.
While water does absorb a significant amount of odor, there are products available that can help further minimize the smell of ammonia and even bleach urine so that it looks as clear as water. Occasional flushing and weekly cleaning can also prevent the toilet from becoming discolored.
Water Conservation Alternatives
Flushing the toilet is an ingrained habit, and one many people just aren't willing to give up no matter how much water could be saved by reducing the number of flushes per day. If you want to reduce your water consumption but don't want to use the selective flushing method, you can install a low-flow toilet in your home or business.
A low-flow toilet uses a variety of methods to move waste out of the bowl and into the sewer pipes including gravity and compressed air. There are even waterless toilets you can purchase that turn your waste into compost that can be used as fertilizer for your garden.
Before you install either of these alternatives, it's a good idea to have your existing plumbing inspected by a plumber to make sure the pipes can handle the way these toilets manage waste. To learn about low-flow toilets or for more tips on how you can conserve water in your home, contact a plumber in your area.
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