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Remodeling? Here Are Some Easy Ways to Make Your Bathroom Cost-Efficient and Eco-Friendly

January 3, 2019
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By Lori Melton

Giving an old bathroom a face lift can help improve your home’s look and potentially increase its value. There’s only so much “charm” a turquoise toilet and tub can bring, right? If you’re finally diving into that bath remodel you’ve always dreamed of, you’ll probably discover lots of energy-saving, eco-conscious advancements have been made in toilets, faucets, showerheads and other bath fixtures. These modern upgrades can translate to significant water conservation and lower utility bills.

Not sure where to start? Consider these tips for making eco-friendly, cost-effective bathroom renovations.

Consult an Eco-Conscious Contractor

Remodeling any room is a huge job and a bathroom reno can be especially complex. You’ll need plumbing, electric and tiling skills at a minimum. If you’re not remodel-savvy, you should probably consult and rely on a professional contractor to get the job done. There are also contractors who specialize in doing green building and remodeling projects. You can do a Google search for “Green builders” or “Green contractors” in your area and you can also browse the Find a Pro list on GreenHomeGuide’s website.

Toilets

Older toilets use a lot more water than newer, efficient models. A new EPA WaterSense certified line of toilets can help the average home save up to 13,000 gallons of water each year, with a water bill reduction of about $110 per year. The WaterSense tank-type, single-flush toilet only uses 1.28 gallons per flush as opposed to six gallons per flush on older models. When shopping for toilets, be sure to look for the WaterSense label to ensure the one you choose meets the EPA’s rigorous performance and conservation guidelines.

Faucets

Replacing outdated, water-hogging faucets and aerators with WaterSense certified models can save more than 700 gallons of water per year in a single household. Using less water from the faucets can also reduce the amount of energy being drawn by your water heater. Nationally, the country could save over 64 billion gallons of water and cut water and energy expenses by over $1.2 billion annually if every home was equipped with WaterSense labeled faucets.

Showerheads

You may be surprised to learn that taking a shower accounts for about 17 percent of home water usage (or 40 gallons of water per day for an average family). Collectively, that’s about a staggering 1.2 trillion gallons of water being used in the U.S. every year for just showering. As with toilets and faucets, WaterSense labeled showerheads are 20 percent more efficient than older models. This translates to a savings of more than 2,900 gallons of water a year with WaterSense models. If everyone in the country converted to these efficient showerheads, more than 250 billion gallons of water could be saved.

Vanities and Countertops

Using repurposed and/or recycled items for bathroom vanities and countertops is a great way revamp the look of your bathroom, help the environment and save money. For instance, you can convert an antique dresser or cabinet into a working sink/vanity. Or, use recycled or reclaimed wood to build a custom cabinet. As for countertops, there are lots of eco-friendly, eye-catching options such as reclaimed wood, quartz, natural stone, recycled glass, low-carbon cement and many more. Elemental Green lists several types of countertops.

Flooring

Using reclaimed wood or other recycled materials for bathroom flooring helps reduce your remodel’s eco-footprint. Once again, there are lots of stylish options. Popular eco-friendly choices include cork, bamboo, glass tiles, and terrazzo (which combines tile scrap materials like quartz, glass and marble). Linoleum is also a less expensive, eco-friendly flooring choice because it’s made from natural materials like ground limestone, powdered cork, linseed oil and jute. Keep in mind linoleum is not the same as vinyl. However, it does come in lots of patterns and colors and is easy to clean and maintain.

Lighting

The eco-friendliest bathroom lighting option would be to harness solar energy via a skylight. Beyond that, make sure lighting fixtures are Energy Star certified and you’re using LED bulbs which reduce energy usage, last longer and ultimately reduce your home energy bills.

 

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