When you hear the term “eco-friendly design,” what do you think about? In our experience, one of the first assumptions made is that you’ll substitute style for being kind to the environment. Well, we’re here to tell you that isn’t the case! There are multiple ways you can tweak your bathroom to make it more eco-friendly. And the good news? You don’t have to compromise on style. The term eco-friendly simply means that the product choices you make will have a positive effect (or at least not a negative effect) on the planet and living things, and it likely won’t surprise you to hear that American bathrooms are not usually built that way. Toilets, for example, can go through 200 gallons of water a day, especially if they are old or leaky. Other fixtures such as showerheads can also contribute to high water and energy usage in your home, which can be harmful to both the environment and your wallet. So how can you make your bathroom more eco-friendly while maintaining a high-end aesthetic? Here are our 5 top tips to get you started.
1 – Upgrade Your Toilet and Shower
Let’s tackle water consumption first. Did you know that toilets are estimated to use 30+% of your household’s water consumption? The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that to protect the environment, we should stick to models that operate at 1.28 gallons per flush (GPF). Most toilets run at the federally restricted limit of 1.6 GPF, but if you are thinking about remodeling and have a toilet that predates the 1992 mandate, then your model is likely even more wasteful, with some coming in at a whopping 3.5 GPF. One of the most popular options for a more eco-friendly toilet is the dual flush model, which cuts down on the amount of water you are using as you can choose between two options: the button for flushing liquids, or the button for flushing solid waste. This ensures that just enough water is used for the task at hand. On average this option uses 30% less water than a traditional toilet, making it much more environmentally friendly. And with models like these up for grabs, they look just as sleek as previous designs.
In the average American home, showerheads can use 2.5-5.5 gallons of water per minute (GPM). By switching to a newer, greener model that runs at less than 2.5 GPM, you can lower that amount drastically. You also don’t have to sacrifice good water pressure. Many low-flow showerheads use aeration technology, helping reduce the amount of water used by adding air to the water without sacrificing the water pressure. You can even buy showers that recycle the water as you use it! When it comes to style, low-flow showerheads are available in almost every shape, size, and color, so you can design a bathroom that feels right for you. For examples, check out these stunning low-flow options.
2 – Choose Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Materials
When aspiring to be eco-friendly, it’s also important to choose sustainable building materials for your cabinets, vanities, and tile, avoiding any materials which contain substances like formaldehyde. Recycled tile is one popular recommendation. Others include solid, recycled, or reclaimed wood, or materials such as bamboo, for the cabinets and vanities. You can even choose materials like Paperstone™, which is made from 100% recycled materials and comes in an array of colors. With so many options for style, you can choose the material that best brings your vision to life and make it look as high-end as you wish.
3 – Be Intentional with Your Lighting
Lighting is crucial for a bathroom space to be functional, and when it comes to energy consumption, it’s no surprise that natural will always be the best option. When remodeling, it’s important to consider adding a skylight to your bathroom, or a larger window that allows more natural light to pour in. If you have a window already, even just removing the blings (privacy permitting) can help. If your bathroom is an ensuite in your bedroom, there are also ways of designing the layout to capture the natural light from the bedroom windows. However, if you’d prefer not to reconfigure or cut a window into your bathroom, there are other options. Using LED bulbs is a great way to conserve energy and it does not have to limit your aesthetic. There are numerous options on the market using LED bulbs, like the ones included in this article from decoist, which include under-cabinet LED strip lighting to add depth and a fun aesthetic to any space.
4 – Don’t Forget Your Water Heater
The next tip for an eco-friendly bathroom remodel is not to forget about the water heater. While it does not get seen or “used” like the rest of the bathroom, the machine working behind the scenes to make sure you have hot water shouldn’t be neglected, or you could risk being all style and no substance. Tankless water heaters, which heat the water as you use it rather than storing it like traditional ones, can reduce carbon emissions and decrease your energy usage by 22%. Take a look at 4 of the most common types of water heaters here.
5 – Use an Experienced Contractor
Perhaps the most important tip is to pick a professional contractor who is aware of the newest eco-friendly fixtures and trends and has an experienced portfolio in implementing eco-friendly designs. This level of expertise and insight will make the process much smoother from design to implementation. At Kegonsa Plumbing, we act as your general contractor ensuring excellence through every step of the design and have long-standing relationships with local suppliers and partners. Learn more about our remodeling process here or contact us for your free consultation!