Statistics indicate that bathrooms are the biggest sources of wasted water indoors – particularly older toilets that use 18 to 24 litres of water with every flush. Older showerheads that flow at 20 litres per minute will use 200 litres in one 10-minute shower. Older appliances are also responsible for less efficient water use.

BC Building Code

In September 2008, ultra low flow toilets (six litres or less) and 9.5 L/min low flow showerheads became mandatory for all new construction and renovations. Designs have improved with time.

As of October 3, 2011, high efficiency toilets (HET) or dual flush toilets were required in new residential buildings or when renovations involving plumbing fixtures occur. HET toilets have a maximum flush of 4.8 litres. Dual flush toilets are also considered to have an effective flush volume of less than 4.8 litres due to the ratio of the reduced flush volumes. "HETs have no difficulty meeting the waste transport requirements typical of residential drainline installations. However, when HETs are installed in industrial, commercial and institutional buildings, there are concerns about the drainline carry of a 4.8 litre flush volume. Until further research on drainline transport issues becomes available, the BC Building Code's HET requirement will be limited to residential buildings."

To determine whether yours is a water efficient bathroom, check age and water flow of your toilet and showerhead.


For toilets installed before 1994,

  • Check the flush volume by looking at the inside of the tank, on the tank label, on the back of the bowl, or on the flush valve
  • Check for leaks (from the tank into the bowl) by dropping some food colouring in the toilet tank. If after 15 minutes, food colouring is found in the bowl, your toilet has a leak (Even if the leak is less than a drip per second it can still add up to about 10,000L of water wasted per year)
  • Retrofit 20 litre toilets with toilet dams, displacement devices or alternative flush devices.
  • Replace with a low flow or HET toilet


If you are not sure whether you have a low flow showerhead, try the following test:

  • Place a 20-litre (five Gallon) bucket under the shower
  • Set a timer to zero
  • Turn the shower on to normal flow and start timer
  • Time water flow for 60 seconds, then shut off shower
  • A full bucket means you have an older, 20-litre per minute showerhead.
  • A half-full bucket means you have a 9.5-litre showerhead
  • Save the water in the bucket to flush your toilet or water a plant

Surprise benefit: A 9.5-litre showerhead produces less steam, does not fog up the mirror and saves on bathroom wear and tear.

More tips indoors

  • Short showers use less water than baths.
  • Shut tap off when not in use.
  • Keep a jug of water in the fridge.
  • When running water to adjust for temperature, collect that water and use elsewhere in the home or garden.
  • When purchasing new appliances, buy energy and water-efficient models.
  • Imagine that you only had a finite amount of water to use per day (e.g. 100 litres) and adjust your habits accordingly.
  • Think of water as a precious resource to be used wisely. 
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