Are composting toilets worth the money?


Sure the composting toilets are more expensive to buy when comparing to traditional toilets, but let’s do some math and calculate the real value of owning a composting toilet against a traditional toilet.

A composting toilet costs between $1,000 and to $8,000 and it will pay itself in a few years because it will save you money in water bills: you can save up to $75 a month in water alone, in two years you’ve paid for your $1,800 composting toilet in water savings alone!

How much does a composting toilet costs?

Going mobile

It can go from $900 up to $4,000, or you can do one by yourself and it will cut the cost in less than half! Going mobile you will want a self-enclosed system like Nature’s Head or Sun Mar sell, it will cost you at least $1,500 if you go with these brands. You can go for something cheaper, but I think it is worth the cost of support and guarantees.

A cheaper one will not have a compartment to liquid waste nor will be smell-proof like one more expensive. You need to find the perfect balance between price and specifications.

Water cost will depend on where you are right now, as a traveler, you know that water rates vary from city to city and even more from country to country. So I’ll try to make an average.

At home

It is a bit more expensive than mobile because it allows having more waste and can have more perks. A good one will cost you at least $2,000 but you will get your money back in no time depending on where you live because water rates are completely different from city to city. You can pay $8 for 748 gallons of water and your friend who lives in a city nearby pays only $4 for the same amount of water. So here I will try to make an average of the price of water and do some math with them.

Example 1: you buy a $1,500 composting toilet and you are in Bay Area, California

A person spends about 80-100 gallons of water per day (USGS), so a family of four will require at least 320 gallons of water per day. One-quarter of this will be spent on toilet water alone, so it makes 80 gallons per day again only for toilet use!

Multiplying 80 gallons per day with 365 days a year, a family of four will spend at least 29 200 gallons of water in a year! In Bay Area you pay up to $8 for 748 gallons, so you’ll pay more than $300 a year in toilet flushing. In five years you get your investment back and reduce your carbon footprint by 25%. That’s a win-win situation.

Example 2: You you a $2,500 composting toilet and you live in Columbus, Ohio

In Columbus, Ohio, water costs about $4 for 748 gallons, half the price, double the time to recover your investment, but as you bought a $2,500 composting toilet, you will recover your money in water in more than 15 years.

But is it worth the price? If you have the possibilities to buy one composting toilet, yes, for sure, you will reduce your carbon footprint by one quarter, wasting less water, spending less money on maintenance, if you have a running toilet or any water leak your water bill will go up and you will notice it.

Maintenance costs

A composting toilet is almost cost-free for maintenance: if you have a leak you will find out immediately by the possible smell and with some silicone, the leak is fixed.

You have to buy sawdust or other products for your composting toilet, but they are really cheap to buy and will last you forever. For cleaning, you only need to use water and vinegar in extreme cases, don’t use chemical products, they’ll kill all the good bacteria and mess with the composting process.

If you have a mobile unit, the maintenance cost can go up a little bit, most of the problems you can have are related to some kind of leakage, so again, a bit of silicone is enough to solve the problem. With proper care, it will last you a lifetime.

Cost of the bulking cover material

You can have it for free if you use leaves, soil, or pine needles. If you don’t have access to those materials, you can buy from almost any store an 8 quarts bag of peat moss, coconut coir, or sawdust for $10 and it will last you about 5-6 months in a household of four.

If possible, buy in bulk and put the bulking cover material in a dry place, when open, close it very well or use a bucket with cover to store the material away from moisture. It is really important to keep the material dry, it can drive to moss or fungi and they make it worthless.

Installation costs

Any self-contained composting toilet will cost you nothing to install, you only need to place it and you are done. If you want to go DIY, it may cost you a little as you need to change some things and have some construction materials, it will cost you at least $500 to make a composting pile and deposit, make your composting toilet and all the structure. If you outsource this work, make it double to $1,000. When buying try to negotiate the installation. Many companies include the installation of the pricing, so be aware of that when looking for a composting toilet.

Adding everything up

When buying a composting toilet, the average person will spend about $2,000 and will save $200 in water per year. In a year, you’ll buy $30 worth of peat moss, so let’s do some math and see the true cost of having a composting toilet:

YearSavings/YearCost/YearTotal/year
12002030-1830
220030-1660
320030-1490
520030-1120
1020030-150
1520030820
20200301790

It takes about 10,5 years to pay back this composting toilet. Ignoring the inflation and the uprising cost of water.

Advantages of a composting toilet

  • Saves water lots of water reducing your carbon footprint by a quarter.
  • Saves money on water bills paying itself in a few years.
  • Reduces the need for a wastewater collection system, if done correctly it can even eliminate the need for one.
  • Your system will generate high-quality fertilizer that can be used in your garden.

Disadvantages of a composting toilet

  • The initial cost of buying a self-contained composting toilet.
  • You will be handling human waste.
  • It will require proper maintenance of the toilet and the compost.
  • Possible problems with odor if the compost isn’t in great condition.

Where to buy a composting toilet?

You can buy a composting toilet locally, find reviews on Google or Facebook, there are lots of companies you can choose from. They should handle the installation and give you all the information needed about using and maintaining your brand new composting toilet.

You can also go online, sites like Amazon will have lots of composting toilets, lots of user reviews and you can even lookup on YouTube for information and reviews. One thing is reading about, the other is seeing or put the shoes of a person who leads with it daily.

It is a great way of saving water and the environment

By buying a composting toilet, you will save lots of money and you will also reduce your water consumption by a quarter, that’s a lot! You can fill 3 pools with 10,000 gallons each in a year of flushing water, that’s a huge amount of potable water wasted!

Also, you will save money fertilizing your garden, if you have one, of course. If you, unfortunately, don’t have a garden, you can contribute to someones’ composting pile and help him or her out. That will mean a lot to them.

OnePlanetSaver

Hi, I'm Sérgio and I'm passionate about saving the environment reducing my carbon footprint and making better choices. Here I will share some tips that I'm learning on my journey of having a way of live that is more sustainable.

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