Coastal River

Coastal River, West Coast Vancouver Island. Photo: Jeremy Koreski

The appliances and fixtures we use every day have a big impact on how efficient our homes are. On this page, you'll find information about common household appliances like washing machines and dishwashers, and fixtures like toilets, faucets, and shower heads. Also included are the differences between the demands for older systems and newer more water and energy efficient models. Tofino's progressive stepped-charge rates for water and electricity mean that efficiency and conservative use can lead to substantial savings on utility bills. As a result of stepped rates charges increasing with use, saving water and energy in any one area of your home can help save money across the board by keeping overall usage fees in the lower (and cheaper) rate levels.

Click here for a link to Tofino's water and electricity rates.

Click here for an extensive water-use and cost breakdown based on Tofino's stepped-charge rates provided by Jason Sam of G.E.T. Solar Solutions.

Shower Heads & Faucets

Whether in the bathroom or the kitchen, the faucets we use every day contribute to household water and energy consumption. In the bathroom, water used for washing accounts for a major portion of our water bill. When it comes to your faucets, you may want to reduce water consumption by installing a sink aerator which can cost around $5 to $15. Another easy place to cut down on water use is in the shower. For example, a standard shower head allows about 10 litres of water to flow per minute, which means that an average 8 minute shower sends 80 litres of heated and treated water down the drain.

Jason Sam from G.E.T. Solar Solutions explaining the benefits of switching to an efficient shower head.

By switching to an efficient shower head with a flow rate of 7 litres per minute, you can save approximately 25 litres of water per person per shower. Energy efficient shower heads no longer make for a low pressure shower. In fact, the most popular design forces water flow through small holes to effectively aerate the water stream which results in a mix of water and air that maintains pressure and feel, ensuring that you step out clean and refreshed. These can be found in our local hardware stores and range in price from $20 for a simple unit and up to $100 or more for high-end models.

Click here for an extensive water-use and cost breakdown based on Tofino's stepped-charge rates provided by Jason Sam of G.E.T. Solar Solutions.

Click here for a list of regional suppliers of shower heads and sink aerators.

Visit the G.E.T. Solar Solutions website



Low-flow and Dual Flush Toilets

When making water efficient choices in your home, the best place to start is in the bathroom where approximately 65% of a household's water is used for washing and flushing the toilet. If your toilet was installed before 2000, there is a good chance that it's using as much as 18 litres of water everytime it gets flushed. Compare this with newer Ultra-Low Flush Toilets (ULFTs) which use no more than 6 litres of water per flush, or High Efficiency Toilets (HETs) which use at least 20% less than that, flushing with only 4.8 litres. While some low-flow toilets once provided only questionable flushing performance, advancements in technologies and designs by manufacturers have resulted in excellent performance at a savings of tens of thousands of litres annually.

Composting Toilets

A composting toilet is a dry toilet that uses a predominantly aerobic processing system to treat waste via composting or managed aerobic decomposition. Composting toilets may be used as an alternative to flush toilets in situations where there is no suitable water supply, infrastructure, or septic system to safely dispose of waste. Self-contained composting toilets complete the composting in a container within the receiving fixture. They are slightly larger than a flush toilet, but use roughly the same floor space. Some units use fans for aeration, and optionally, heating elements to maintain optimum temperatures to hasten the composting process and to evaporate urine and other moisture. These toilets generally involve mixing waste with substances like sawdust, coconut coir, or peat moss after each use to create air pockets for better aerobic processing, to absorb liquid, and to create an odor barrier. The decomposition process is generally faster than the anaerobic decomposition used in wet sewage treatment systems such as septic tanks.

Tofino resident Conor MacKenzie explaining the composting toilet he installed in his home.

Check out the toilet ABCs for more information.

Click here for a list of regional suppliers.



Trading in your old top-load washing machine for an high efficiency Energy Star certified model can cut the amount of water and energy used for laundry in half. Originating in 1992, Energy Star is a Canadian Government backed international standard for energy efficient consumer products. To meet the requirements fro certification, a washing machine must be at least 59% more energy efficient than the minimum Canadian federal energy performance standards and use 35-50% less water. Click here for more information about Energy Star.

High efficiency washers have greater tub capacities and do more laundry in fewer loads. Most are front-loading because the design allows for more water to be removed by the end of the cycle which results in less work for energy-hungry dryers. No dryers qualify for Energy Star labelling because there is little difference in energy consumption between models.

Switching to cold water washing can result in big savings and a reduced carbon footprint, because 90% of the energy-use associated with washing machines comes from your home's hot water tank. In fact, if North Americans were to wash their clothes exclusively in cold water, it would would reduce annual carbon emmisions by as much as taking ten million (10,000,000!) cars off the road.

Click here for a list of local suppliers of Energy Star washing machines.

Click here for a comprehensive list of Energy Star qualified washing machines and suppliers on Vancouver Island.



Ensuring that your kitchen has a water efficient faucet and dishwasher are two more choices you can make in a water-conscious household. For a quick and easy fix, you may want to buy an inexpensive low-flow faucet aerator ($5-$10). These can be found in local hardware stores, are simple to install, and  result in instant water savings.

When it comes to your dishwasher, switching to an Energy Star certified machine makes for a big step towards reducing water and energy consumption. For a dishwasher to receive Energy Star certification it must exceed government energy standards by at least 9%, and while this may sound modest it can equate to tremendous savings over time.

Click here for a list of regional suppliers.