Making the Case for Residential Urinals
Hi all – Have any of you installed urinals in your home? Have you looked at doing it?
So far that’s my plan. It seems like a no brainer. Urinals use massively less water than even Watersense toilets, and keep toilets a lot cleaner. It seems like it should be the default on home construction – it’s not clear why we would have such a basic appliance everywhere but in our homes.
The most efficient I’ve seen use a pint of water per flush. Even if we conservatively assume that these super minimal models aren’t using enough water to be effective, a quart per flush model would still be a massive savings over a toilet.
I’ve looked at waterless too, but they seem suboptimal because they require nontrivial maintenance and replacement of their chemicals or cartridges. Waterless urinals look like an example of what I call arbitrary variable optimization, which is common in green circles, like people who say that solar water heaters are “more efficient” than PV, which is a physics claim and doesn’t matter. Home is the only place waterless even makes any sense, since public waterless urinals are gross and unsanitary – you’ll get other people’s urine splashed on you. At home that’s not an issue, but the $99 gallon of blue chemical you need was a turn-off. And the plumbers’ unions have been trying to block their use by lobbying against code approval (what a racket), so I imagine getting plumbers to install them might be a hassle depending on where you live, or expensive (they need special lines). It’s a bummer how lazy and conservative the construction trades are – there’s much less progress than in any other sector I know of.
Regular urinals are cheap. So far the biggest challenge seems to be the interior design of the bathrooms. Default layouts don’t accommodate them. It looks the bathrooms need to either be wider, or lumpier, with a punched out foot or two. Have any of you solved the layout?
The cleanliness is a huge draw. You could do a dissertation on what happens when men use toilets to urinate, all the unexpected ways they get dirty, maybe with slow motion cameras…
And it’s such a waste of water. The savings estimates posted on GBA in a 2010 article on home urinals were way off because they assumed only 3 times a day per male. It will be much higher than that, especially for people who work from home, which is common now. The actual savings will be two or three times the estimate, even compared to low flush toilets. I’m also looking at graywater systems and rainwater catchment to keep net municipal water use low. It would be especially neat to be able to take real showers, like they do in other countries, while keeping net use low. So urinals can be a partial offset for other water use. (Quality of life is a critical factor for me, or else I’d get rid of windows…)
So any implementers? All I’ve seen in real life were basement “man cave” scenarios, not actual bathrooms.
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