Sunday, March 21, 2010

Consumer skeptisism; The biggest hurdle for new toilet standards.


The AERC of Asheville has begun independent performance evaluations on popular new toilet models. We want to help promote these devices because of the positive impacts they will have on helping to preserve our fresh water resources around the world; but we also want to be certain consumers have a positive experience with the products they buy. The industry has a chance to correct it's mistakes of the past and improve their image in the community; I hope they get it right.

HET's or High Efficiency Toilets are becoming the norm in the industry. For a toilet to qualify for the HET labeling it must meet a maximum performance (MaP) test developed by the EPA requiring toilets to use 1.28 gallons of water or less per flush.

After implementation of Federal mandates the early 1990's and the introduction of low consumption 1.6gpf toilet's, consumers remain skeptical of these performance standards. As a Plumbing Contractor I remember very well the debacle with the first rounds of low consumption toilets in the 90's and consumers tend to have long memories when it comes to things they don't like. Almost 15 years after I still hear it every time I try to convince a customer that it's time to switch to a more water efficient toilet; "no thanks, I don't want to plunge my toilet every time I take a dump". It is one of the most difficult sells for a plumber to make. Consumer dissatisfaction with the performance of one of the most intimate fixtures in our homes, still plagues the industry.

“The AERC is not an official EPA MaP testing facility, we are doing this entirely on behalf of the consumers in our community; with no bias to the outcome of test results except to provide people with honest results they can trust and experience for themselves. We've opened the AERC to help inform and advise our community. There are a lot of good folks out there that want to do everything they can to help protect our environment and preserve the quality of fresh water resources in the region, but they also can't afford to spend money on things that don't function well or won't hold up in under real world everyday use. 

With that in mind we do these tests a little differently at the AERC. The standard MaP test has placed strict standards on the procedure used for evaluation. The test medium is a soy paste enclosed in a latex sleeve. Each piece is required to meet specific length, diameter and weight standards; 4" long, 3/4" diameter, 50 grams. Toilets are evaluated on how many pieces they successfully flush on a consistent basis. This works fine for general evaluation, but in my opinion doesn't really represent how things work behind the closed doors of our real world bathrooms. No two poops are the same; we test toilets with this in mind. See for yourself what I mean in the video below.

The AERC of Asheville is located at 46 New Leicester Hwy. The center is open to the public and encourages people to come down a see for themselves how things work and what options they have for improving water efficiency & energy conservation in their homes and places of businesses.
Come on down, lets get our hand wet and have some fun learning about water conservation & water quality. 

Contact the Aqua Environmental Resource Center at (828) 236-5980


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