Why Plumbers Should Be Key Partners in Raising Awareness of Dual Flush Buttons

To mark World Toilet Day on Saturday, 19 November, WaterSafe has teamed up with Waterwise and The Bathroom Manufacturers Association to talk about the amount of water wasted through confusing dual flush buttons and how plumbers can help.

“It’s up to all of us to save water where we can. Helping to educate people about confusing dual flush buttons on toilets is an easy way to conserve our precious resources – and it also helps to keep bills down. WaterSafe members can play a key role in educating the public about this issue and I urge them to do so.”

Julie Spinks, Director, WaterSafe


“This World Toilet Day we're raising awareness of dual flush button usage and making sure people know which button is which as they can be confusing and not intuitive. Using a full flush when you only need a reduced one leads to unnecessary wastage - both water and money for metered customers. Nearly half of the world's population still lack access to safely managed sanitation at home and so let's appreciate the fantastic sanitation services we have here in the UK and make sure we're using our dual flush buttons properly if we have them (and checking for leaks too)!”

Nicci Russell, Managing Director, Waterwise


“The UK is facing significant water scarcity challenges, and we must all do what we can to use it more wisely. Awareness of the dual flush buttons for toilets and using them appropriately is vital to avoid wasting water and money.”

Tom Reynolds, CEO, Bathroom Manufacturers Association

Only 28% of 1,200 customers surveyed by SES Water said they knew which button on their own toilet produced a reduced flush. Given the familiarity with your own toilet, it’s likely this figure would be much lower for other toilets customers aren’t familiar with.

This is a worryingly large proportion of people - SES’ research alone indicates that this lack of awareness around which button is for the reduced flush could be wasting over 200 million litres per day when scaled up across the UK.

Based on similar research, Northumbrian Water estimates that 26.4 million litres of water are wasted each day through incorrect dual flush button usage in their area. This is equivalent to just under 106 million cups of tea or 6 litres for every person that Northumbrian Water supplies!

In both cases, that’s not just water, but also customer’s money down the drain, especially for those on a water meter.

Meanwhile, research on dual flush button designs carried out by the Water Regulations Approval Scheme (WRAS) found that out of 2,000 people surveyed and asked to identify the button for a reduced flush, no dual flush button design out of 18 tested achieved 100% recognition, and even the better performing buttons only achieved 92%. Shockingly one design only had 19.5% recognition.

To help reduce this excessive (not to mention unnecessary) wastage, there needs to be greater awareness amongst customers of which button is which to avoid incorrect use - we think plumbers can help massively here.

Why should plumbers help?

To save customers money

If a customer is on a water meter, then every drop wasted through them using a full flush when they only need a reduced flush (pressing the ‘wrong’ button) is money wasted too. By raising awareness of which button is which and when they should be used, plumbers can help their customers save money as well as get the maximum benefit out of the dual flush device they have installed. Even last year, 1 in 10 people in England and 1 in 8 in Wales reported that their water bills were unaffordable and so in light of the current cost of living crisis this is a real priority.

To tackle water scarcity issues

In England alone, there’s potential for a 4 billion litres per day deficit against meeting the water needs of homes and businesses by 2050 which would threaten life as we know it. Reducing water wasted, often unknowingly, by customers pressing the ‘wrong’ button (i.e. full flush when they only need a reduced flush) on their dual flush toilets will help us be resilient to future challenges such as climate change and protect our water resources and wider environment for current and future generations.

To offer enhanced customer service

100% of 204 plumbers surveyed by WaterSafe a few years back thought water efficiency was important and 98% thought it was part of the work of a good plumber to talk to their customers about it. Customers trust their plumber, they offer an independent voice and are there to fix problems as and when they occur, saving customers water and money. Speaking with customers about dual flush buttons as part of this can help enhance a plumber’s customer service and reputation.


What can plumbers do to help?

  • Recommend clearly marked dual flush button designs with significant difference in size between the reduced and full flush buttons to customers. The key takeaway from WRAS’ research was that the bigger button (usually for a full flush) needs to be 1.5 times bigger than the smaller button to achieve 80% recognition and that marking the buttons can help, but not in isolation.

  • Raise awareness by talking with customers to make sure they know which button is which (show them if not) and why it’s important they use the correct button. This can be done during home visits and installations.

  • Spread the word about the need for increased awareness of dual flush buttons in the plumbing community by talking to colleagues. Encourage them to speak with their customers to help them save water and money.

The existing trust and engagement plumbers have with their customers provides a unique opportunity to help raise awareness on important issues such as this. Ideally, as part of the wider ‘getting to know your loo’ agenda and related campaigns such as the Lavvy Savvy campaign for leaky loos. Reducing water wasted through incorrect use of dual flush buttons and leaking toilets helps to protect the environment and can save customers' money, two key areas of priority at the moment.

Our Partners

WaterSafe Approved Contractors' Scheme Operators

Anglian WaterAssociation of Plumbing & Heating ContractorsCIPHESevern TrentSNIPEFWIAPS

We use cookies to give you the best possible experience with WaterSafe. Some are essential to provide accurate emergency search results and ensure the website is secure. We also use cookies to help us understand how people use the site and to make improvements. Click "Accept All" to enable recommended settings or click "Manage cookies" to adjust your settings. For more details, see our Cookie Policy.