It used to be that the only way to make an antique toilet use less water was to put a brick or two in the tank. It’s a nice idea, but sometimes the old toilets don’t work as well with a smaller flush volume than they were designed for. And if you have to flush more than once because of the bricks in the tank, your water conserving benefit is lost.
At the recent Twin Cities Bungalow Club seminar, “How Green is Your Bungalow?” I picked up a tip that could help homeowners keep or restore antique bathroom fixtures, while also going green to save water. The solution is a grey water system.
A grey water system reuses drain water from laundry washing machines, showers, bathtubs, and bathroom sinks to supply the toilets. This requires altering and adding some water pipes, and installing a grey water storage tank, filter and pump. Toilets– particularly old ones– are one of the largest users of water in the home, so grey water systems can reduce household water use by 25% or more.
Obviously the economics of a grey water system will depend on the cost of system installation and the cost of water in your area. Also, some municipalities are more accomodating of this alternative than others, so be sure to check for local grey water information before you proceed.
If grey water works for you, it could be a green improvement that doesn’t require compromising on authentic old house fixtures and details. It’s definitely something I am considering here.