Cheaper Than Cheap Tip Of The Week #8 : Don’t Flush The Tiolet

by The Happy Rock on May 1, 2009

cat-playing-in-toilet“Cheaper Than Cheap” is a recurring tip series about frugality. The idea is to provide potentially helpful frugality tips that border on fanatical or fictitious to the point of becoming humorous. Love them or hate them, let’s hear what you think. Tip #7 was Sleep When It is Dark.

If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down

That old adage isn’t just funny and gross, it can really save you money.  The point it is wait to flush your urine but always flush the poop.  I know it sounds kind of gross, but let’s take a look at the numbers to see if it is really worth it.   Let’s estimate that a family of 4 flushes 20 times a day, 16 of which are just liquid waste.   They own a somewhat dated toilet that uses 3.5 gallons a flush which is a good average because some older toilets can use up to 5 gallons or more while newer tanks can use as low as 0.8 gallons for pee flushes and 1.6 gallons for solid waste flushes.

If they follow the saying to the literal letter that would save 16 flushes a day or 56 gallons of water.  In a year they will save 20,440 gallons of water a year, which at a cost of 0.005 cents a galloon taken from my current bill would save $102 a year.

To put it in a broader perspective, the US as a whole uses 5.8 billion gallons of fresh water a day for flushing and could reduce that amount by over 4.3 billion gallons just by following “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”.

If you aren’t hardcore enough for the mellow yellow route, you could consider using an empty half gallon or gallon milk jug to convert you toilet into a lower flow toilet.

Cheaper Than Cheap Tip Of The Week Poll:

Low cost ways to conserve water at home @Yahoo

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Double Eagle May 1, 2009 at 10:40 am

Or, you could just use the great outdoors, or “The Giant Toilet” as I like to call it, and never have to flush again.


Helen May 1, 2009 at 11:28 am

LOL – wow, you’ve really entered personal territory for me. I used to be a “daily occurrence flusher” myself until I met my Chinese boyfriend who introduced me to this concept. =)

I drink a lot of water, so most times it’s clear, which doesn’t bother me not to flush anymore. But, having been raised in a family of medical nurses, if the accumulation turns too yellow, I have to flush or I start getting the heebie jeebies.

(If this is TMI, I apologize – this is coming from someone who as a child was used to talking about blood, surgical operations, and watching gallstone operations on video during family dinner.)

On another note, I was having problems posting my comment on the Necessity list in the earlier post. The system kept telling me that I had posted a duplicate comment, but there is none?!


fern May 1, 2009 at 4:17 pm

the problem with doing this is that if you let urine-filled water sit too long, the tank gets very dirty and hard to clean.


Mrs. Money May 1, 2009 at 4:37 pm

We do this at my house. I haven’t noticed any adverse effects from it! :)


MoneyEnergy May 1, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Haven’t heard that adage! That pic makes me think, though, you have to keep the seats down because our furry friends don’t understand what the toilet is and they tend to try to drink from it. Even if it’s “just water” they can get really sick from it. But in general, I can see saving the flush for every other “yellow” use.


LPN May 5, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Ken Livingstone, the erstwhile Mayor of London famously suggested the “if it’s mellow…” phrase and was universally condemned.

I have three young kids and they never flush the toilet so I guess we are doing our bit of saving by default. LOL


Debt Destroyer May 5, 2009 at 6:46 pm

For our household we look at this as a water saving measure more than a money saving measure.

But like fern mentioned above, be sure not to let the yellow mellow too long.


Rinaldo Hasibuan May 10, 2009 at 4:37 pm

some place in my country still using the river as their toilet,
very very cheap and natural


Krunk May 27, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Many countries outside of America are already using dual flush toilets, where it uses about 75% less water to flush liquids.

How Dual Flush Toilets Work


Clair Schwan March 1, 2012 at 2:13 pm

The savings also comes from the cost of sewage. Some municipalities charge for sewage according to how much water is used, so using less water creates a savings at both ends – water use and sewage charges.

Also, some places around the country have very high water rates, so saving water is more than just wise from a resource use standpoint, it also becomes a significant utility bill. I think anytime you can see the better part of a dollar in savings each day, it’s something to pay attention to.

Overall, Americans are wasteful with water, and some day it will come back to bite us in the backside. I can’t think of anything more important than good water. Thankfully, I’m on a well, and our water is excellent. Nevertheless, excessive water use is paid for in the electric bill and well system maintenance and repair. Everything has its price.


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