In our rush to reduce both our carbon footprint and monthly utility bills, the humble house and home needs a complete reassessment with regards to what resources we use, where and why, and how we might reduce usage.
Whilst the bathroom might seem fairly basic with regards to energy and resources there are a number of simple alterations that go a long way in reducing waste and increasing efficiency.
The first and foremost resource in bathrooms is water – and whilst water may come in at the cheaper end of our annual living costs, it’s a valuable resource that is predicted to become a scarce and highly valued commodity in the wake of climatic temperature increases. The easiest way to instantly reduce water usage in the bathroom is to install a toilet with a dual flush cistern – this allows you to select a half-flush where necessary. Old fashioned toilets use up to nine liters of clean water on every flush; by using a dual flush or simply placing a ‘save-a-flush’ or ‘hippo’ in the cistern you can reduce usage by up to three liters each time.
Showers are another key area for energy use – and with the increasing popularity of power showers the equation now includes both water and electric usage. Whilst the common assumption is that showers use less water than baths, modern power showers can use more water than a bath in less than five minutes. If you’re keen to reduce water usage without compromising the power of flow, an aerated or low-flo shower head will reduce the amount of water used but maintain pressure by mixing with air.
Bathroom lighting needs to be precise to fulfill its required roles in bathroom activities such as shaving, plucking and make-up – if designing an entire bathroom natural lighting should be taken into account and capitalized on where possible. Where installing new lighting systems consider spot lighting for key areas, such as mirrors, bath and shower, plus it’s worth considering low energy options that can reduce electricity usage by up to 80%.
Choosing to opt for both recycled and renewable resources is the best way to go green in the home – in the bathroom as well as the rest of the house installing gray water recycling and a solar hot water system will radically reduce cost and waste. Waste water from showers, baths and wash basins is collected, treated and reused for purposes other than drinking, such as flushing toilets, watering the garden and feeding the washing machine. Whilst solar collectors positioned on the south side of a roof are currently the most efficient use of solar power, creating hot water year round for very little investment.