Sick of having the age-old toilet seat argument with your spouse? Tired of cleaning up after your son (or husband!) that maybe doesn’t have the world’s best aim? If you have a decent sized bathroom – and especially if you have more than one guy in your household – it might be worth considering installing a urinal. Sounds a little weird, I know, but I promise the men of the house will appreciate it. Better still, not only can home urinals keep your bathroom cleaner, your toilet neater, and eliminate a major point of contention in the battle of the sexes… they’re also great from the environment, and can save you big on your water bill.
I’ve talked before about the benefits of low flow toilets, especially ones with dual-flush capabilities. It takes a lot less water to flush a liquid than a solid, and being able to use only the water you need allows you to conserve a lot of water. Urinals, like this Dexter Low Flow, go one step farther. Because they only flush liquid waste, they don’t need to have any standing water like a toilet would, and because they’re designed to drain straight down they require very, very little water – or, in some cases, none at all – to empty the bowl.
Urinals like this Toto High Efficiency model are designed with deep, elongated, curved bowls. This helps to prevent splashing, which goes a long way towards keeping a cleaner bathroom, especially in one that sees a lot of male traffic. And at a lean .5 gallons per flush (GPF), it uses less than a third the amount of water of a standard low-flow toilet, and less than half even what a “little flush” on a dual-flush toilet would. Even with only one person using it, that can add up to really significant savings on your monthly water and sewage costs.
You can even get flushing urinals that go as low as .125 GPF – like this Zurn “Pint”. To put that in perspective, for every flush you’re basically using a beer mug or oversized coffee cup worth of water rather than a milk jug – and the milk jug is a “little flush”!
If you like the idea, but don’t want your bathroom to look like, well, a men’s room, don’t worry. While many urinals come with a standard flush valve, many that are designed for home use take a little extra care to make the unit look nice. Instead of an exposed handle or your typical exterior motion sensor flush, the one on this Selectronic is built into the top of the urinal and will flush automatically when you step away, no hands needed.
For even greater efficiency, you can get a no-flush or waterless urinal, like this Kohler Steward. The biggest appeal of these should be pretty obvious: it doesn’t use any water at all, which not only means huge water and sewage savings, but also makes installation easier. Instead of having to run extra supply and waste lines to an additional part of your bathroom, a flushless urinal only needs a waste line.
The main drawback is maybe a little less readily apparent. While the compact, dome-like shapes of flush-free urinals like this American Standard Flowise are extremely conductive to drainage and empty quickly after use, they have to be cleaned every day to prevent residue buildup (and resulting odors). As well, because only urine goes through the pipes, the whole system has to be deep cleaned every two weeks to prevent it from crystallizing inside the pipes and blocking them.
But if you have the stomach for a daily wipedown and flushing out your waste pipes out with water and a special cleaner (and installing a new, internal urinal cake) once every two weeks, you’ll immediately reduce your water consumption to what equals less than a flush per week. Something else to consider is that because they don’t require a water supply line, storage tank, or flushing mechanism, waterless urinals like this tiny Steward S take up significantly less space than any other type, which means they can be comfortably installed in almost any bathroom.
Then again, if your want the real men’s room treatment, and have the space to pull it off, you really can’t beat a genuine, waist-to-floor, full sized Urinal. And hey, if the lady of the house hates it? You can always install it in the garage instead!
Any way you look at it, a urinal is one of the best water saving fixtures you can install just about anywhere in your house. But would you? If you’re a lady, would you have a problem with installing a urinal in your bathroom, or would you be grateful for it? For the guys, do you love the idea, or are you fine with flipping the toilet seat? Let me know in the comments!