Editor’s note: Two weeks ago, we looked at kitchen remodeling ideas; today, we’re moving to the bath…
When improving energy conservation in the home, homeowners often first replace home appliances or electronics located throughout the kitchen and living areas. However, there is one other area of the home that is often overlooked — the bathroom. However, according to the University of Minnesota, 75 percent of total home water usage occurs in the bathroom. By remodeling your bathroom to conserve water and energy, you can lower your utility bills, reduce the amount of water your home consumes annually, and also help preserve local water resources. Following are five changes can you make to conserve water and energy in your bathrooms.
Install Low-Flow Faucets
Low-flow faucets and shower heads are available at nearly all hardware stores at very affordable prices. Better Homes and Gardens suggests remodeling your bathroom with an aerater-equipped faucet for the greatest energy savings. In the shower, a low-flow faucet can mean significant savings too. Traditional shower heads release approximately 5 gallons of water per minute, whereas water-conserving versions cut usage in half. That means that for a typical 10 minute shower, you could saving 25 gallons of water per shower — a savings of more than 9,000 gallons per year, per person.
Filter Natural Light
If you have windows in your bathroom, use them to your advantage. During the cooler months of the year, using natural light instead of overhead light fixtures can save energy. On the other hand, during warmer months of the year — particularly if you live in a hot climate — uncovered windows can be hard on your cooling and energy costs. Opt for custom blinds or window shades that match your decor. By choosing custom blinds or window shades, you can determine when to let natural light in or block it out, all while improving your bathroom’s aesthetics.
Purchase a Water-Conserving Toilet
Water-conserving toilets have come a long way over the past decade. No longer are they difficult to flush or less effective than traditional models. Instead, families are finding that installing a water-conserving toilet is budget-friendly. For example, if you replace your older model toilet with a low-flush version as recommended by the New York Times, you could save as much as $80 per year for a family of four. What’s better is that water-conserving toilets are just as affordable as their traditional counterparts.
Plumbing leaks are common in bathrooms, and repairing them can lead to significant water savings. A single leaky toilet can waste as much as 300 gallons of water per day. Curb your costs and usage by repairing all leaks and checking them regularly for maintenance.
Use Low-VOC Paints
Remember, water is not the only way of going green in your bathroom, but rather, is a starting point for making eco-friendly changes. If you are doing a complete bathroom remodel, be sure to purchase (or even make) a paint that is low in VOCs, or volatile organic compounds.When VOCs are emitted into the air, they are harmful to the environment, and can also cause humans and pets to become sick. Low-VOC paints are in increasingly high demand, so you should be able to find one at your local hardware or paint store.
Although making energy and water-efficient changes to your bathroom can help you save money and the environment, you have the power to make further changes through daily habits and behaviors. For example, try taking shorter showers, using cold water instead of hot where possible, and also using natural cleaning agents instead of chemicals to create a healthier atmosphere.
A self-proclaimed “21st century hippie,” Justin studied Journalism at Berkeley and freelances for many environmental publications. He has a special interest in conservation, and he and his wife recently added solar panels to their home.