Atlanta toilet rebate cuts bills, water consumption

by Nick McLain

Angie's List member Phillip Graffunder of Tucker [Ga.] says he's impressed with his new low-flow toilets, and the $300 in rebates he received for installing three provided a nice incentive. "We haven't had a lick of a problem," he says. "They really do have a lot of suction."

After discovering a leak in his ceiling caused by toilets that were more than 30 years old, Graffunder says his plumber, highly rated Tim Chen Plumbing Inc. in Tucker [Ga.], suggested he buy new ones and take advantage of the metrowide Take the Plunge! toilet rebate program administered by the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.

He followed the advice, he says, and his quarterly water bills have dropped by $30 to $45.

"The toilet has the biggest water consumption of all a home's fixtures, so it will help on the water bill," Chen says, adding that about 600 of his customers have utilized the program. "I hardly do any repairs anymore," he says. "It's helped sell more toilets."

The 2-year-old program, started by the district in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management and other agencies, has resulted in rebates for about 3,000 WaterSense-approved toilets and savings of more than 31 million gallons of water per year in the city of Atlanta, alone, says Melinda Langston, the ADWM's director of water conservation.

For more information on the metrowide toilet rebate program, go to northgeorgiawater.org.

The rebates range from $50 to $100. A typical low-flow toilet costs $300 to $800, whereas standard toilets cost $125 to $500. Installation costs are typically the same.

"We have plenty of funds remaining for our customers and would love for more people to take advantage of it," Langston says.

Graffunder says his Toto brand low-flow toilets perform much better than his old toilets. "And we're doing right by the environment," he says.

Older toilets use roughly 3 to 4 gallons per flush, while WaterSense-approved toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush or less, says Matt Zurn, general manager of highly rated Zurn Plumbing Service Inc. in Chamblee [Ga.]. He estimates a family of four could save 15,000 gallons of water a year.

Zurn says the newer models have improved. "American manufacturers took existing models, made them use less water, and they just didn't work well," he says. "Most manufacturers now are providing products that use less water and still flush efficiently and powerfully enough."

The DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management, which operates its own water-conservation program, has distributed more than $1 million in rebates for about 13,000 low-flow toilets, according to Kurlis Rogers, special projects coordinator. "It's absolutely been a success," she says.

Angie's List member Linda Taylor of Decatur [Ga.] received $150 in rebates from the county program after replacing two toilets. "They work great," she says.


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