The bathroom is probably the least likely candidate to get the award for “most green room” in the house. You’ll be surprised to know that today there are a plethora of environmentally friendly ways to help protect Mother Earth and most of them are very simple and/or inexpensive. If you’re renovating your home, there are big differences you can make with the help of a bathroom remodeling expert who is experienced in green design in Phoenix, plus there are minor ways to “go green” you can do on your own.
If you are doing a major remodeling job in your bathroom, there are plenty of opportunities to “green up” that room. You can replace all major plumbing components with more-efficient models or do a minor tweak or two in your personal effort to go greener. It would behoove you to check all plumbing components such as pipes, fixtures, faucets and showerheads for leaks because therein lies the cause of your expensive water bill.
Toilets – Toilets use more than 30% of residential water consumption, not only due to the amount of flushes and refilling of the toilet tank (which accounts for some 1.6 gallons of water each time), but much water consumption is also due to leaks or inefficiency. It is important to fix a leak as soon as possible to avoid excess water usage. Unbelievably, toilets manufactured before 1992 used anywhere from 3.5 to 7 gallons of water for each flush. Toilets manufactured after the 1992 Energy Policy were labeled “WaterSense” which meant they are high-performing and water-efficient. By using a high-efficiency toilet, the typical family of four can save $2,000.00 over the lifetime of the toilet. An even-greener option is a composting toilet. While they have been in existence for three decades, recent advances have made them a better option than before. Composting toilets are more high maintenance than a regular toilet but require little to no water. Not only do composting toilets help conserve water and energy and reduce water pollution, they generate garden compost as well. They are used in unsewered, rural or suburban areas but you should check local building codes to see if they are allowed in your city.
Faucets and showerheads – Another sizable chunk of water usage in your utility bill is from running water from faucets and showerheads. Faucets account for 15 percent of indoor household water use. Like the above-mentioned WaterSense toilet, a bathroom sink faucet with the WaterSense label can reduce water flow by 30 percent or more without sacrificing performance. If your faucet is in tip-top shape and you don’t plan on replacing it, consider replacing the aerator in your faucet with a more efficient style to maximize your water efficiency. The aerator is the screw-on tip of the faucet which controls the flow rate of water. They are simple to replace, an inexpensive part and you will be able to achieve maximum savings by performing this simple task. Showerheads, also benefited from the 1992 Energy Policy, because the flow rate of showerheads for older models was 5.5 gallons per minute and the newer model high-efficiency shower flow rates are 2.5 gallons per minute. Showering uses up a whopping 17 percent of residential indoor water use, so it pays to install a new fixture for approximately $15.00 and pare 25-60 percent off your water bill.
Green streak in your bathroom
There are other items found in your bathroom that may not be environmentally friendly, and are relatively simple to just replace in your efforts to “go green”. Some other examples are:
Cabinetry – Most vanities or bathroom cabinets are comprised of particle board or fiberboard, and often it is recycled heavy-duty paper products, held together by a formaldehyde-based adhesive. Formaldehyde is a common type of Volatile Organic Compound (VOC), a harmful chemical that has been deemed to cause outdoor smog, in addition to indoor air pollution. The finishes often used on vanities or bathroom cabinets also contain VOCs. To avoid the smells or allergy sensitivities resulting from VOCs, buy only items made with formaldehyde-free adhesives and finishes. Better still, purchase repurposed real wood vanities and cabinets or any of this type of furniture made from natural certified woods such as bamboo, rather than tropical hardwoods.
Countertops for sinks/vanities – Like the materials used to create vanities and cabinets, countertops are likewise created from recycled products and may closely resemble stone, like granite, but the components are actually recycled newspapers and soy flour. By using recycled building materials. Rather than those components ending up in a landfill, they are being repurposed and helping to create a better environment.
Flooring and tiles – There are a wide selection of environmentally friendly alternatives for a “green” floor or backsplash Ares in your bathroom. Flooring made from cork tiles, or hardwoods such as bamboo, are available at big-box home improvement stores. Using repurposed building materials made from reclaimed wood can lend an authentic or rustic touch to your bathroom and give it added ambiance. There are building material reuse stores which sell high-quality flooring salvaged from construction or renovation projects. These materials are available for purchase by the general public. Consider using reclaimed lumber as a flooring option. Hundreds of building material reuse stores sell high-quality flooring salvaged from construction and renovation projects. Most stores are open to the public. Another flooring option is recycled materials, which were formerly wood products. Recycled-content – Another flooring option is recycled content which is basically comprised of man-made materials liked recycled tiles, rubber, or stone which can be retooled 100% into durable and low-maintenance wood or vinyl tile flooring. Vinyl flooring should be generally avoided due to the use of hazardous and toxic substances in the production process. A safer and “greener” option to vinyl flooring is linoleum which is made from such natural products as linseed oil and sawdust. If you like the features of vinyl flooring, consider linoleum instead, which is made from sawdust and linseed oil, using a less toxic process than the process used the make vinyl flooring You should always avoid any type of flooring which is coated or sealed with formaldehyde-based chemicals, because they which emit VOCs, or polyurethane, which will trigger asthma attacks.
Ventilation – Adequate ventilation in the bathroom can keep mold or mildew from forming in damp areas such as showers, sinks. Not only is mold unhealthy for breathing purposes, but it also can cause rot, structural damage and early paint failure. To that end, use an exhaust fan or open window when taking a shower, since the moisture from the shower area will often create mold in that location. A properly ventilated bathroom will cure any issues like stale polluted air, irritating pollutants, potentially harmful gasses and inhibit the growth of mold and mildew.
Maintaining the green home
If you’ve been ultra-diligent about making your home green with remodeling or green design efforts, don’t go and spoil that green home by using environmentally unsafe cleaning products with aerosols which can harm the environment and trigger asthma attacks. Even your vinyl shower curtain liner can be problematic these days if they contain VOC, a harmful compound which causes breathing difficulties. Your efforts are to be commended – you are making your home green and helping out Mother Earth keep it in balance and saving the planet for the next generation.