If you’ve traveled to Europe or Australia, you’ve probably seen toilets with two buttons instead of a single flush handle. Pressing one button flushes the toilet lightly to remove liquid waste, and pressing the other produces a higher-volume flush to remove solid waste.

Originally designed for drought-prone Australia, these water-saving toilets are becoming increasingly popular in North America as well.

Standard 1.6-gallon toilets are a great improvement over older toilets, which used 3 or even more gallons per flush. But dual-flush toilets are even more water-efficient. A “full flush” uses 1.53 gallons per flush, and a “half flush” uses only 1.02 gallons per flush. The result is a reduction of up to 68% in water usage over a conventional toilet (and even more if your conventional toilet is old and leaky).

Of course the savings vary from person to person, but if you use the toilet an average of 5 times a day, you’ll save close to 600 gallons of water every year. For a family of four, that works out to a total savings of 2400 gallons annually. And, since toilet usage typically accounts for roughly a quarter of your water bill, you can end up with a monthly savings of close to 17%.

Another benefit of dual-flush toilets is that most models have a larger trapway for removing waste than conventional toilets – which reduces the likelihood of a clog.

Finally, dual-flush toilets look great. They are sleek, modern, and European-looking, and they perfectly complement a high-end bathroom.

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