Check for Leaks

Before making any other changes, inspect your toilet for leaks. A running toilet can waste hundreds of gallons of water per day without you even realizing it. Listen closely to hear if water is continuously running or dripping into the bowl. Also look for condensation or water on the outside of the tank. Fix any leaks before moving on.

Adjust the Flush Mechanism

Inside the toilet tank are parts that control the flush volume. Adjusting these can immediately reduce the water usage per flush. Turn down the float so it’s closer to the bottom of the tank, or bend the float arm down slightly. This will decrease the amount of water that enters the tank. You can also try placing a water bottle filled with sand in the tank to displace some water.

Install a Low-Flow Toilet

Replacing an old, inefficient toilet with a new low-flow model is one of the most effective ways to cut water usage. Low-flow toilets use 1.28 gallons per flush, as opposed to 3-5 gallons of regular models. This change alone can reduce usage by 30-60%. Look for WaterSense certified models, which are independently tested for efficiency.

Use Dual Flush Conversion Kits

For a cheaper alternative, install a dual flush converter kit. This allows you to choose between a half- or full-flush. A light flush uses 0.8 gallons for liquid waste, while the full flush is 1.6 gallons for solids. Overall usage drops without having to replace the entire toilet.

Try Early Close Flappers

Flapper valves control when the water flow shuts off during a flush. An early close flapper closes sooner, so less water is used. Install one of these simple devices to save between 0.5 and 1 gallon per flush.

Adjust the Water Level in the Tank

Lowering the water line in the tank reduces the siphon effect during flushing. To do this, clip the tube that fills the tank so water stops 1 inch below the overflow pipe. Be careful not to go too low or flushing may be compromised.

Use Graywater for Flushing

Repurposing sink or shower water for flushing reuses 10-25 gallons per day that would otherwise go down the drain. Graywater systems require permits in some areas and can be pricey, but provide significant water savings.

Install Water-Saving Toilet Accessories

A variety of inexpensive toilet accessories can reduce water loss between flushes:

  • Toilet tank bands displace water in the tank to reduce volume.
  • Toilet dam or float booster holds water back between flushes.
  • Auto-closing flapper valve seals the flush valve immediately after flushing.
  • Leak-stopping tablets or dye tabs identify leaks by coloring the water.

Monitor Usage and Check for Leaks

Get in the habit of checking your water meter over time. Turn off all water and watch for any movement of the dial, which indicates a leak. Also look at your usage during periods of similar household activity. Any spike may reveal issues like running toilets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about reducing toilet water usage:

How much money can I save by adjusting my toilet’s water usage?

You can expect to save $30 to $150 per year for each upgraded toilet, depending on your water rates. Savings will compound from having lower usage.

Does low-flow mean lower flushing power?

Not with today’s models. Look for WaterSense certified toilets that must pass flushing tests. Many perform better than standard toilets.

Is it easy to install a dual flush converter?

Yes, the kits include all necessary parts and easy step-by-step instructions. No special tools are required. Conversion takes less than 30 minutes.

How often should I check for toilet leaks?

It’s good to do a visual inspection for leaks at least once a month. Check the meter before and after periods of non-use to detect any running water issues.

What’s the greenest way to save water with my toilet?

Using graywater systems for flushing reuses water that would otherwise be wasted. This provides the maximum conservation, though systems require some effort to install.

How low should the water be in the tank?

For most models, the water level can safely be reduced to about 1 inch below the overflow tube without affecting flushing performance.

Will lowering tank water damage the flushing mechanism?

As long as about 2 inches remain above the flapper, there should be no issues. If flushing seems weak, try raising the level slightly.


With many simple and inexpensive methods available, it is easy to dramatically reduce your toilet’s water usage. A few adjustments can save thousands of gallons per year, reducing your environmental footprint and lowering water bills. Conservation also helps communities by lessening demand on water systems. Consider utilizing a combination of the techniques outlined above to maximize your water savings. Protecting our water resources is among the most important things we can do, and toilets present a great place to start.