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  • Low-Flush Toilets: The San Francisco Treat?

    San Francisco’s environmentally friendly low-flush toilets are doing what they’re supposed to do: save water. The toilets reduced the city’s annual water use by 20 million gallons, but they have had the unintended consequence of causing sewage problems. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

    Skimping on toilet water has resulted in more sludge backing up inside the sewer pipes, said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the city Public Utilities Commission. That has created a rotten-egg stench near AT&T Park and elsewhere, especially during the dry summer months. The city has already spent $100 million over the past five years to upgrade its sewer system and sewage plants, in part to combat the odor problem.

    Now officials are stocking up on a $14 million, three-year supply of highly concentrated sodium hypochlorite—better known as bleach—to act as an odor eater and to disinfect the city’s treated water before it’s dumped into the bay. It will also be used to sanitize drinking water.

    Low-flush toilets aren’t the only energy efficient appliance that’s had issues. Consumer Reports found that with some energy efficient laundry machines, not only did consumers have to pay a higher sticker price for the machine, but they also had to wash their clothes twice because of the reduced performance—using more energy in the process. Furthermore, Consumer Reports called the Department of Energy (DOE) out for overstating the energy savings from energy-efficient refrigerators. When Consumer Reports conducted its own energy use test, which they claim is much more realistic than the DOE’s, they found much higher energy use. In one instance:

    LG says it uses an Energy Star compliant 547 kWh per year. We found through our tests that real-life energy use would be more than double. Why the energy-use gap? DOE procedures call for a refrigerator’s icemaker to be off during testing. On the LG, turning off the icemaker also shuts off cooling to the ice-making compartment, located on the refrigerator door.

    In our preliminary tests with the icemaker off, the energy use we measured was much closer to LG’s figure. But that’s not how you’d use the feature at home since doing so melts all the ice. When we gauged energy use with the LG’s icemaker on, we got a consumption of 1,110 kWh per year.

    The reality is that producers and consumers do not need government mandates and subsidies to be more energy efficient. Energy consumption per real dollar of gross domestic product has dropped dramatically over the past 60 years and will continue to do so if we allow business to innovate rather than stranglehold them with regulations and mandates. Motives of cost reduction and increased profits go hand in hand with becoming more energy efficient. If a company can find a way to reduce its energy use, it can lower costs and thus the price to consumers. Consumers will respond by buying better products and services. Forced reduction in energy use, on the other hand, can cause forced reduction, which reduces product performance, features, reliability, and longevity.

    More importantly, government subsidies are not needed to purchase more energy-efficient products. A government survey of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star labeling program, which identifies energy efficient products, found that 62 percent of households were either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to buy the product without the government handout. In effect, this means 38 percent felt the energy savings were not worth the additional cost of the product.

    It should be the consumer’s choice, and the government shouldn’t try to dictate that choice by using our taxpayer dollars to subsidize a portion of the cost.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    18 Responses to Low-Flush Toilets: The San Francisco Treat?

    1. Chris says:

      One more example of what happens when one attempts to a-COMMOD-ate the save the (fill-in-the-blank) hysteria of the looney Lib fringe, for whom passionate, self-righteous and self-proclamed noble intent are the sole criteria for action (and action NOW!, I tell you, before it's to late!). Once again their quixotic dreams are "flush" with painful, nostril-full, and unwanted unintended consequences that the adults are left to deal with whille these post-flower-children ride off on their unicorns into a pixie-dust filtered sunset.

      At least when the Lone Ranger rode off into the sunset all that was left behind was a silver bullet and thank-filled hearts.

    2. Michael says:

      Another example how the nanny government messes things up and should leave us alone. The free market will take care of problems in due time.

    3. Bobbie says:

      Cute title, Nicolas!

      Creating waste from waste to cost. More evidence their claims are over reaction and barely thought through. The bleach smell sounds hazardous and probably develop illness. The exact reason I do not push my children into college!

      More government cost for government-made crisis! WHAT LEADERSHIP! WHAT A FUTURE!!!!!!!!

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    6. Emmit West says:

      I've always found it amusing that I have to flush my "water saving" toilet twice to clear it.

    7. Carol, Boston says:

      These are the same loons who profess to help "save" mother earth with their curly-q MERCURY LADEN light bulbs, ethonal gas additive that gunks up cars. etc……there "solutions" are more harmful, do not save money and cause more problems……. and these same moonbats want to direct our healthcare system!

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    9. Ken, Flovilla, GA says:

      At Kadena AB on Okinawa, we were on 'water hrs' alot in the summer. We used to put old milk jugs in the tanks to reduce the amount of water used during the flush. Adjust to the amount needed to clear by what size you put in the tank. All these low flow toilets and gov't regs just line the pockets of those who put 'em in office. Typical bureaucratic gov't, write a regulation or spend more borrow'd money vs. usin' common sense.

    10. Dinah Garrison Fairb says:

      Great article, but where were you right before I bought my new dishwasher? I am a renter, so when the old washer died I arranged with my landlord to pay the difference to up-grade my new dishwasher. I knew what he would put in and I really missed my old one from my house. It was fab. When I started using the new one I couldn't believe the results. I had to not pre-rinse but pre-wash and the dishes sometimes came out looking worse than when they went in. I was so upset. I called the store where I bought it and they sent a tech out. He checked it out thoroughly and said it was fine. His only suggestion was a new water heater. I called a different repair company but they couldn't find anything to repair. I am still having to pre-wash all of my dishes no matter what I do. It does a wonderful job of drying, however. Thanks to government "regulations" again.

    11. Leon Lundquist, Dura says:

      Somebody call Ann Coulter! She would fall off her chair laughing about the Flush Toilet Crisis (sure to be not wasted) and of course, there are new Felonies for Plumbers who won't put in an unworkable toilet! Don't forget, these brightest of the bright in San Francisco are the same boobs who shut down the San Juaquin Valley just before Obama's Man Caused Disaster Food Crises (caused by Ethanol!)

      None dare call this Treason, but now we can smell what they are full of!

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    13. Matt says:

      I wondered why our electric bill seemed higher when we have all energy star appliances – i guess its time for that kill – a watt meter to get the real usage.

    14. Spiritof76, NH says:

      So the sanctuary city is now the stinky city in addition. I have never been to SF and I have no desire to go there just like I have no desire to visit Tehran, Iran.

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    16. Nicolai Alatzas says:

      It's quite ridiculous to conclude public infrastructure is failing do to low flush toilets. Many models reduce water use and increase drain capacity. Most systems fail around the country due to overwhelming storm water infiltration causes drains to back up into our lakes, rivers and oceans. I can remember numerous times as a child where beaches were closed to to intense levels of Fecal Chlorophyl.

      Sorry if you can't flush it down with a half a gallon of water but they make many shapes and many models that reduce water flow. Maybe a Dual Flush is more your style? Or maybe just as Ken said stick something in the tank to displace the water.

      Carol you feel it better to burn coal filled with Mercury because you are too lazy to buy recyclable compact fluorescents? Did you also know that Henry Fords first production cars were to burn exclusively Ethanol? The only reason they aren't to this day was the lobbying power of Standard Oil. They were so powerful in fact they got Prohibition enacted thus making ethanol production illegal. It wasn't until Ford promised to put gasoline engines on his production line that Prohibition was lifted.

    17. Bobbie says:

      Boy, Nicola, aren't you the rude one with a special investment interest. Reducing the water flow reduces the pressure needed to flush which increases plumbing problems!!! HELLO??

      People value human life. Many even more so value the lives around them. To have the government require people to use only mercury laden light bulbs IN THE NAME OF SAVING THE PLANET is threatening, dangerous, ridiculous AND IMPRACTICAL IN VARIOUS WAYS as it WON'T AMOUNT TO ANYTHING OF SIGNIFICANCE in the name of saving the planet. Mercury poisonous bulbs are more sensitive to a break then the poison-less bulbs.

      if it makes you feel better to use poisonous bulbs because you're too lazy to care and protect your family so be it…

      Ford didn't use ethanol, it's inefficient and made out of food makes it impractical and a slap in the face to the starving.

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