Green living: bathroom edition
Following one of our previous blog post about green living in the kitchen, we’d like to move on to another part of the house.
Making your bathroom more eco-friendly, which means more water- and energy-efficient, can make a big difference in your home’s utility bills and environmental impact.
Although it may seem like the sink, bathtub, and toilet, along with other basic appliances, play a limited role in energy consumption and waste, they are among the largest contributors. Combined with a number of bad habits that people engage in daily in their bathroom, it leads to even greater unnecessary energy use.
The list below looks at how to improve green efficiency in the bathroom as well as at good habits you can adopt to conserve water and energy.
1. Stop the leaks
Running toilets and leaky faucets are more than just an annoyance. In fact, England and Wales loose about 3.1 billion litres of water every day from leakage, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCW).
If you have a leak or suspect one, get a plumber in as soon as you can to repair it or take a stab at repairing it yourself.
2. Go low flow
One appliance that will help to improve the efficiency of your bathroom is a low flow shower head. These devices work by limiting the amount of water that is released, minimising the water used with each shower and having the added benefit of reducing the energy required of the water heater to heat the excess that spills out.
Water-saving shower heads even come in a number of varieties including hand-held and stationary makes, allowing you to easily replicate your current shower experience. You can also install a low flow faucet on the bathroom sink for added benefits.
3. Go dual flush
If you’ve got the budget, this is a big water saver. Dual flush toilets use around half the water to flush liquid waste compared to standard toilets. If getting a new toilet is not in your price range, you can buy kits to convert a regular toilet to dual flush.
4. Skip a bath
Unless you take very long showers, a bath uses far more water to get you clean than a shower. Take showers instead of baths to rack up the water savings! This will also save energy, since you bathe in hot water. Reducing hot water usage will save water and energy.
5. Get an efficient water heater
Getting a better heater is a great way to make your bathroom (and kitchen and laundry room) more eco-friendly. If you can afford it, a tankless heater is the best bet from an energy-conservation perspective. Tank water heaters store hot water, meaning they’re constantly running to keep the water hot. A tankless heater only turns on when you turn on the hot water tap.
6. Turn down the water heater
One of the biggest energy draining appliances within your home is the water heater, the device responsible for regulating the heat of your water: heating water accounts for about 20 percent of your home’s energy costs.
Many manufacturers will set the default temperature of your heater at 60 degrees, twenty degrees higher than what is recommended. Dropping the temperature down to 45 degrees helps to cut the cost of energy while also being better to your pipes, preventing them from corroding at a more rapid rate. Another option exists for those who have tank water heaters, which store hot water and run continuously to maintain the warm temperature. There are now tankless water heaters that warm up water only when the hot water tap is turned on, presenting another great way to conserve energy.
7. Ditch the PVC shower curtain liner
Vinyl shower curtain liners are no good for the planet or for your home’s air quality. PVC liners off gas harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are bad news for indoor air quality and your health. Unfortunately, PVC shower curtains are not recyclable. The best thing that you can do is toss the old one and replace it with a non-PVC alternative.
8. Turn off the tap
Many people fall into the habit of leaving the faucet running as they brush their teeth, but it is important that you turn off the tap while you’re brushing. The simple turn of a handle is all it takes to stop wasting water and be more efficient in the bathroom.
9. Choose LEDs
One of the clearest eco-friendly choices for a bathroom, LEDs offer plenty of benefits with very few drawbacks. Not only do they last around 40 times longer than conventional incandescent bulbs, they use less power too - as much as 90% less. While they do pose a higher initial investment compared with incandescent bulbs, this is offset by their lifespan and efficiency, and they only keep getting better: it's estimated that by 2030, LEDs could be up to five times more efficient.
10. Unplug hot tools
There are a number of appliances that we use regularly within our bathrooms to get ready before heading out of the house. The most common are hair styling tools like curling irons, flat irons, and hair dryers. In order to operate them, these tools require time and energy to heat up, along with an outlet. Even when they are powered off, many of these tools are still using energy. In order to avoid any extra power use, keep devices and styling tools unplugged when they’re not being used. Also be sure to check on them progressively if they require time to heat to make sure they are not just sitting around using energy.
11. Go green with towels and linens
When it comes time to dry off, towels made from materials like organic cotton and bamboo are the way to go. Conventional cotton is one of the most chemically-intensive, pesticide-laden crops on the planet--to the tune of 2 billion pounds of synthetic fertilisers and 84 million pounds of pesticides each year--causing a whole laundry list of environmental health problems for those who apply the pesticides and harvest the crop (not to mention the damage done to soil, irrigation, and groundwater systems). Bamboo, in addition to being a fast-growing sustainable alternative to cotton, is also reputed to have antibacterial qualities when spun into linens.
12. Declutter and organise
No: clutter is never energy efficient. If you want to be able to use the products and cosmetics you have instead of always buying more (and creating waste as well as spending way too much), your bathroom has to be perfectly organised. Homefulness professional organisers are here to help: don’t hesitate to reach out !