Save Money by Not Flushing the Toilet?

March 11, 2009

Do you try and save money by flushing less often?  I was visiting with a former co-worker yesterday about our pregnant wives, both due here in a few months, and he told me about a little argument they were having.

He’s feeling quite strapped for cash with all the baby expenses they’ve had and will have once the little one arrives.  So he’s looking for any way he can to save money and he came up with an idea that’s gotten him into a lot of trouble.

Here’s the background. As all women who’ve been pregnant know, the farther along you get in the pregnancy, the more frequently you have to use the bathroom.  His wife is now getting up sometimes as many as 8–9 times in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and he thought they could save some money on their water bill by asking her to wait until the morning to flush, instead of on each trip.

His request didn’t go over so well and now they’re arguing about how often she should flush the toilet.  She’s so mad at him that she’s actually flushing the toilet even more often now just to get under his skin : )  I told him he should have never brought something like that up with a pregnant women but he still thinks it’s a good idea.  What do you think?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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43 Responses to Save Money by Not Flushing the Toilet?

  • kris

    I agree,flushing will save money. When I want to I’ll flush every 3rd time or so as well…if it starts to stink obviously flush it.besides the amount of times 1 goes #2 it will be flushed itleast once a day anyways i’d hope.

    For all we know the poster could be tapping into his neighbours wireless on phone or the library. EVerything seems to be through it nowadays, guess we could try to live without though!

  • c0nd3mn3d

    p.s. it’s “further,” not “farther.” the latter is reserved for physical distance.

    thank you for getting “should have” correct.

  • Brianna

    This is an old thread, but as a general rule, if you can’t afford the few extra flushes, you probably shouldn’t have kids. Really.

  • Loren

    $2.45 HCF or 2.45 Cents per cubic foot. a 7.8 gallons a cubic foot call a flush roughly 4 gallons. so thats roughly 1.225 cents a flush IF you have an old toilet. new toilet 1-2 gallons per flush so just to make it easy 1 cent per flush. let the darn woman go to the bathroom. bring your lunch to work one day a month and your expense has just been surpassed.

  • rob

    I’ve been read that many people use rainwater to flush their toilets. I came here to find out how much I could save.

    I think the guy that told his wife not to go so many times during the night should have known that would have caused a bad reaction.
    He could have at least proposed the idea of not flushing so many times.

    However, if you stored and collected your rainwater and plumbed it into your toilet tank valve, you wouldn’t be paying $ every time you flush the toilet.

    Just something I’m thinking about doing if when I finally own my own home.

  • andrew C

    @ Jim,
    I think your assumption of water cost is way off. There’s nowhere that water only costs .1 or .2 cents per gallon. We pay almost 7 cents per gallon in New Jersey, but I think other parts of the country pay perhaps 2 cents per gallon from what i read. NOT 0.2 cents per gallon! A typical water bill should be about $60 to $100, not $ 6 to $10. Just my 2 cents.

  • Anonymous

    My husband does not flush the toilet after a pee and i find it repulsive, it does smell, so now he puts lots of bleach in the toilet which makes it smell worse. I feel that money to flush the toilet is worth more than i am.

  • Robert

    Great tip to saving money on your water bill: Toilets use way to much water when you flush, unless you have a low flow toilet. So just put a jar in the back of it where the water fills up. Weigh down the bottle with rocks or water. You trick the toilet into thinking that it has the same water level as before. Just added a large 96 oz bottle and flushes fine. So everytime we flush, we’ll be saving 3/4 gal of water!

  • Big Russ

    Me and my boys just wizz off the deck and rake in the savings!

  • Anonymous

    in my house we do this all the time not just at night, why does seeing some one’s pee bother people so much? It’s like farting everyone does it why do people make such a big deal about it. It doesn’t smell or anything.

  • fred flintstone

    Dig a well flush all for free,just be sure and get a permit first

  • poof then flush

    I live alone, am unemployed and recently had a friend tell me she saved quite a bit. It was amazing to see my ten dollar water bill go to 20.00 a month now that I am home. Yes, I use the back bathroom and flush every third time. I know I am saving money.

  • TFS

    Go outside and pee. Diluted urine is an excellent fertilizer; if applied straight, it makes a good (and organic) weedkiller. It jumpstarts the action in your compost heap. Why waste it?

  • Anonymous

    This is hilarious. A conversation over 5 months has been spent on talking about a toilet and how many times you flush it. You will save money if you didn’t have the internet to have this conversation on…

  • M

    Build a sawdust toilet, compost heap, and grow your own food. stop pooping in drinking water and turn your excrement into fertilizer. then you really save.

  • twilight

    i also agree with D a couple of posts up. If how many times you flush the toilet is your biggest problem mone-wise, you’re gonna have rude awaking in a few years!!

  • twilight

    i think thats a bad idea to get into even though it “sounds” like a good idea. You get into that kind of a habit, you start going to public places and not flushing the toilet. I guess word is getting around on my college campus because i’ve entered the college library so many times and found toilets not flushed with #2 that i’ve totally lost count how many remain unflushed. And depending on how long its sat there, it usually then stinks up the whole bathroom that you want to throw up upon entering. And people are wondering where swine flu is coming from?? How much disease comes from a stagnant toilet that has sat for say three hours in a public place?? I’ve even seen a college professor do it. COME ON FLush the TOILET!!!! ITS NOT that HARD!!

  • D

    There are so many other places in your home where you should first be looking to save money. While my wife thinks that it would be ok to wait (if its only #1) I think its nasty. If you don’t want to flush, go build an outhouse in your backyard for yourself. Another thing you could do that is a bit more shall we say “modern” is to update your toilet. I just remodeled our hall bathroom and replaced our 40 year old 3.5 or 4 gpm toilet with a 1.25gpm high efficiency toilet. I paid less than $200 for it. Also make sure that you don’t have any leaky faucets. The good news is this; If you don’t want to spend $200 for a more efficient toilet the wood for an outhouse, a shovel and hammer and nails will cost a lot less than that. You’ll start seeing your savings almost immediately. I do think the silliest thing you did to be sure was mess with a pregnant woman about how many times she flushes the toilet. That would be last thing on your mind if you were carrying around an extra 15 or 20 pounds pushing on your organs (and most importantly your BLADDER) plus the incessant back pain for 9 months. And if you’re counting flushes now, what are you going to do when the diapers, daycare, schooling and college fees hit you across the mouth? Your private outhouse is sounding better by the minute. Good luck however you sort it out.

  • L.

    Water bills are no laughing matter. We pay twice for our H2O usage: metered out of the tap, and billed the same amount for sewer. Having moved to a larger home, we saw our bills leap fourfold. I suggested the ‘why not save a flush’ technique in order to do two main things: save money on water, and save POTABLE water for the overall benefit of the planet. I don’t think it’s been mentioned, but does anyone else in N. America not think it is ridiculous to use drinking water to flush our waste? We save water, we save money, and we reduce the risk of plumbing issues in the future. Well worth the early squeamish factor in my book.

  • t

    I use a 32oz pee-bottle for urine.

    If it’s solid, I flush it.

  • john

    Don’t spend it… Or better said, “Pay yourself first.” One popular way to do this is (if your employer can) to have a portion of the money from your check sent to a separate account if you have direct deposit, or to get 2 checks one to spend and one to save.

  • Grant

    Well, he learned his lesson then. You never mess with mom.

    However, the idea is sound, and I would suggest that you could even save by flushing ever other time, vs. every trip to the bathroom.


  • Jim

    Don’t put a brick in your toilet. It’s hard on the plumbing, especially if the brick disintegrates completely and chunks are lodged in your plumbing.

    Use a plastic water bottle. We all have them and they’re cheaper and more suitable for this purpose.

  • lulugal

    I think he should not try to battle with the mother of his child. Pregnancy hormones are not something to mess with. After the pregnancy he might try to bring it up if he is still concerned.

    I fluctuate between ‘mellowing’ and not doing it….but I live alone and have two bathrooms so there is always a clean one for guests!!!!

  • Save the flush

    I am a woman and currently do not flush every time when it’s just yellow. There is a drought here in Calif so we also need to not waste water.

  • Jim

    Hmm.. I think I had an error in my math somewhere. Its probablly only about $2 savings a month:

    8 flushes/day x 4 gallons/flush x $ 0.002 per gallon x 30 days a month
    =8 x 4 x .002 x 30 = 1.92
    = $1.92 / month savings

  • Jim

    He may not be saving as much money as he thinks. In most places in the US water costs about 0.1 to 0.2 cents per gallon. A typical toilet will use 2-4 gallons per flush. So we’re talking 0.2 to 0.8 cents per flush. Worst case of 8 flushes a night at 4 gallons per flush and 0.2 cent cost per gallon he’s looking at maybe saving around $6-7 bucks a month.

    Is $6-7 bucks a month for the few remaining months of the pregnancy that big of a deal? Is it worth the fight with the wife?

    He could also save some water by simply putting a brick in the toilet tank.

    Personally I think saving the water is important but people have to understand that not flushing every time simply won’t be accepted by everyone.

    My 2¢ = 10 gallons


  • My opinion

    House w/ seven boys (and Mom). Cost of urinals in bathrooms turned out not to be economical but the “only when necessary” flush rule is a great thing. There are new toilets out (I’ve read) that let you choose a “lighter” flush as appropriate.

    Especially during the night – no problem. But yes, it was poor judgement to broach the subject during pregnancy (cut the poor woman some slack!).

    BTW – like so many other practical things that used to gross people out (“buy something that someone else has already used? Ewww), when the green people or Hollywood types endorse it — it will actually become fashionable.
    Brad Pitt? Sean Penn? Just watch

  • thecre8iv1

    I agree with Everyday Finance — Let it Mellow! I can only imagine how much water would be saved if they cut out 8 flushes per night. That would really add up over the year. I’ve been subscribing to that philosophy ever since we, here in Georgia, have been in a draught for over a year now. Water is a resource, and CLEAN water is a priviledge. I don’t see the point in wasting it on waste. I think this is definitely an easy way to cut costs.

  • Tommy

    That not a good idea to save the money. I think use the water tank is better. Save the water in the tank especially in rainy day. It better. 🙂

  • sara l

    Using something to displace water in the tank (a soda bottle filled with water, a brick, etc) will reduce the amount of water used per flush. Also, he might want to look at the actual numbers. I think when he sees how much he is charged for water the extra flushes may not add up to much.

  • Kristen

    Easy compromise… take an old milk jug, fill it with water, and put it in the back of the toilet. Less water will get used with each flush. And a domestic squabble is solved 🙂

  • RB @ recessionsblow

    I’ve been practicing this for years…no need to waste on a #1. Notably, this practice went over a lot better when I was living with 3 male college roommates than when I moved in with my fiancé. (she’s gotten used to it though).

  • Anonymous

    Yes the world should subscribe to the “If it’s yellow let it mellow” rule. But buddy, pick your battles more wisley.

  • Ggrrl

    While I don’t think that it’s necessarily a bad idea overall, perhaps trying to institute this new rule while your wife is going around feeling like the Goodyear blimp isn’t the best idea. For the next couple of months, let the woman flush if it makes her happy!

  • Everyday Finance

    This is an age old question easily resolved via the following adage:

    “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down!”

    Hah, this reminds me of a similar debate I have with my wife now and then. I claim I don’t flush in the middle of the night because I don’t want to wake her up. I really want to save a flush though. Think about it; what a waste. We take things like this for granted in the US, where 5% of the global population consumers 25% of the world’s energy…and clean water at a horrid pace. Most other countries in the world have toilets that autoflush after multiple uses only, or they just go in a hole or whatever.

    Anyone freaking out over this needs to have some perspective.

    In Defense of “Filling the Bowl:!

    This reminds me of my “Frugal vs. Cheap” Comparisons post; I knew someone who actually took their clothes to someone else’s house while they were gone to do laundry there to save money. Now, that’s cheap!

  • DollarDream$

    I am so grossed out! I should have never read this post, but this like a bad accident, you have to look! eeewww….


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