Regarding the Incinerating Toilet

by Joseph Matheny on July 30, 2008

Regarding the Incinerating Toilet

WARNING: Elia goes on a rant


This strikes me as the most absurd use of electricity yet invented by humankind.

Honestly. Sorry to rain on your poop-parade. Composting toilets are the bomb, they don’t smell if vented properly to the outside, and they produce lovely, usable, agricultural “gold.” (The Incinolet comparison page says they can’t be used for food-producing plants. This is patently untrue - you simply have to allow a sufficient amount of time for the nasties to die.) Plus, they don’t require any more of the planet’s rapidly dwindling energy supply…

I will do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation.

According to the manufacturer’s specs, the Incinolet uses about 1.5 kWh each cycle…i.e., each time you poo. Imagining a four-person household, let’s suppose that there are approximately 6 poo cycles each day. Some days perhaps more, some days perhaps less, but that seems like a good average to me. So, that means 9 kWh per day spent incinerating the family’s poo.

How much energy is that, really? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 107 million households used 1,140 billion kWh in 2001. That’s 1,140,000,000,000 kWh. Taking an average, we find that the typical household used about 10,650 kWh per year in 2001.


So, 9kWh per day times 365 days a year = 3285 kWh spent incinerating poo each year. In other words, at least a 30% increase in electricity usage.

Now for the cost. Again according to the EIA, in 2006 the average cost of electricity to residential customers was 10.6 cents/kWh. In other words, most families spent about $1,130 on electricity in 2006 (and yes, it’s more expensive now than it was then). So a 30% increase would add another $340 or so to that bill. An extra $30 a month, just to burn your poo down to ash.

For a comparison look at other poo-elimination options, there was recently a pretty comprehensive article in the Boston Globe.

Note especially that use of the Arborlooarborloo.jpg in Africa is helping families feed themselves.

Okay, done with my eco-rant for the day. I’m fully aware that I’m an enormous geek.


Robert August 10, 2008 at 3:21 am

Actually, I think intentionally electrocuting people is a more absurd use of electricity, but that’s another story.

I agree with you, though, that it is a wasteful (no pun intended, okay, maybe a little) way of disposing of human excrement. We would have never bought the toilet ourselves, but it was already installed in the cabin when we bought it. And when you have electrified lemons, make … Okay, enough foolishness. We’ve been looking into replacing it with another solution, but, since it’s at a vacation cabin and gets used only 10 to 20 times a year, we’re not exactly the ones driving up energy costs. I would have a had time recommending it as a new purchase to others, though.

shiva December 21, 2009 at 4:49 am

What a waste of electricity.
I live in India where many villages don’t even have electricity.

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