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June 25, 2008

Japanese toilets cause global warming?

Well, Japanese toilets don't literally cause global warming, but then again, what really does?

In any event, the Japanese are hooked on, er, high-END toilets that consume massive quantities of electricity. (via Volokh)

Japanese toilets can warm and wash one's bottom, whisk away odors with built-in fans and play water noises that drown out potty sounds. They play relaxation music, too. "Ave Maria" is a favorite.

High-end toilets can also sense when someone enters or leaves the bathroom, raising or lowering their lids accordingly. Many models have a "learning mode," which allows them to memorize the lavatory schedules of household members.

These always-on electricity-guzzlers (keeping water warm for bottom-washing devours power) barely existed in Japan before 1980. Now, they are in 68 percent of homes, accounting for about 4 percent of household energy consumption. They use more power than dishwashers or clothes dryers.
They actually don't sound terribly expensive to me. The start-up cost is high, but the electricity cost seems fairly modest, given the luxury: "Luxury models cost up to $4,000 -- plus at least $2.50 a month per toilet in higher electricity bills."

You should definitely read the whole article; anything that uses the phrase "toilet-smitten masses" is OK in my book.

But I want to highlight a couple of factoids for you. First: "The final report of the Electric Toilet Seats Evaluation Standard Subcommittee noted last year that 23 to 30 percent of Japanese men now sit while urinating. They do so, the report said, for comfort and for 'prevention of urine splash.'"

Second: "The report also included findings from the Warm-Water-Shower Toilet Seat Council (an industry group) that women urinate eight times a day, with an average on-seat time of 96 seconds."

Third: "For the addicted, Toto and other manufacturers -- with government encouragement -- have invented the intelligent toilet. After a few days on the job in a household, it memorizes when and how family members do their business. Then, with history as its guide, the toilet intermittently heats up its seat and warms its water."

I want one. Now.

Finally, on a related note, every Japanese man should be able to spend quality toilet time with his robot, so take a look at these "Love Seat Toilets" by Amigo Zhou. A potty deux, one could call it.

UPDATE: There's a short video on YouTube that shows how to make the toilet seat rise with a remote. Click on the image to view it.