Replacing Your Toilet

Whether you have an older home or just purchased a new home, chances are that you will have just a basic one flush toilet installed in your bathroom or bathrooms. If it is a brand new home you may have a slightly smaller watter tank which will conserve water usage compared to the older models, but that is about it. There are many new sleek and modern toilets available on the market and many people are spending a little more money to upgrade their toilets in an effort to modernize their bathrooms and save money at the same time.

The combination of a smaller water tank on your toilet and a dual flush toilet is attractive to many people who are interested in reducing their water bill as well as helping the environment. With dual flush toilets you have the option of a large flush or a small flush depending on the need at the moment.  While all of this is great, we wondered about the relative costs of installing a new toilet vs. the cost of water that we would be saving. Does it make sense from a purely economic perspective to change your old water guzzling toilet for a new water conservation device?

Toilet Up Grades in New Homes

Friends of ours moved to a new home were the builder installed the standard one flush toilet. It was a basic model, probably costing under $100 and although it did not look bad, they decided to upgrade their brand new toilets. The old toilets were discarded in the garbage, which seemed to us as not being very thoughtful,  however someone picked them up prior to the garbage collection the next morning. At least they were going to be reused somewhere! They also had to hire a plumber to complete the installation.

They had to hire a plumber to complete the installation although our friend is perfectly capable of completing the installation himself. he was forced to hire a plumber since the warranty on the home would be in jeopardy if any leaks were detected. Does it make sense to upgrade your toilet(s) based on the water savings  from an economic perspective or is it purely increased esthetic value?

A conversation we had with him  about his upgrades prompted us to write this post and look at whether it makes sense or not.

Costs to Upgrade

We are going to make a number of assumptions here to help us compare the economics of upgrading your water guzzling toilet. These assumptions are based on the location were the writer lives and the relative cost for water consumption in our area.

Make your own adjustments depending on the model you choose and local costs. You can plug these numbers into a spread sheet to compare your own costs based on your situation. Here we go:

  • Mid Range dual flush toilet – $200
  • Parts and fittings – $30
  • One hour labor for installation – $ $70
  • Clean up – $0.00
  • Sell your old toilet – $ $10.00
  • Total cost to Upgrade – $290
  • Water tank size :  2 gallons
  • Water rate:   $0.565 / cubic meter
  • Gallons/meter:  264
  • $/gallon (varies by location):  $0.002140152
  • Sewer rate surcharge:  1.66 times the water charge
  • Cost per flush:  $0.011385606
  • Flush per day:  10
  • Cost per day:  $0.1138
  • Days in year: 365
  • Cost per year:  $41.56
  • Number of years:  10
  • Tot cost:  $415.57
  • Saving per flush:  0.5 ( saves 1 gallon of water per flush)

Water Savings over 10 Years

  • Savings:  $207.79 over 10 years

The original cost of upgrading in our scenario was $290 which we can compare to the cost of water saved in our scenario. This leaves us in the red for approximately $82 based on the assumptions we made above.

Based on this simple analysis it appears that there is no financial advantage to upgrading your toilet. However there are still a couple of assumptions that we have not considered which could make a major difference in the results. These major assumptions include the following:

  • Local assumptions may vary a great deal
  • Water rates will increase over the next 10 years(In our case rates are estimated to increase by 75% over the next 10 years)
  • Upgrading from an old toilet may actually save more water than what was assumed(older tanks can have as much as 3 gallons of water in the water tank)
  • Esthetic value of a modern toilet adds value to your homes resale value(or at least helps you sell your house more quickly by making it more attractive)
  • Number of toilets in your home eligible to be upgraded

At best you may break even with any upgrade that you plan, however the good thing is that if you do upgrade you have a modern toilet that is pleasing to the eye and fits in with your bathrooms decor.

As far as my friend goes, remember the guy who replaced a brand new toilet with a dual action toilet, if he lives in his home for 10 years he will get close to breaking even on that single toilet.

He has three toilets that he replaced and must spread the water savings across them all, so it is unlikely that he will ever recover his money that he has invested in the new toilets. Our analysis was based on a single toilet situation.

Bottom line message from this analysis is that you should only upgrade your toilets based on improving the esthetic value of your bathroom. This is an excellent reason to begin with since it does improve your homes resale value. It also helps to know that you will recover some of the cost of installing your toilets from savings in the amount of water that you use.

We included the cost of a plumber in our assessment and we assumed a cost of $70 for installation of the new toilet. Many do it your self handy man are quite capable of installing their own toilets. Plumbers at local hardware stores will even provide you with instructions on how to complete the installation. there are also instructions available online as well as with the toilet you purchase. Removing the cost of the plumbers installation labor cost pushes the toilet upgrade into the positive area of cash flow and makes it all worthwhile!

 

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