Eco-Friendly Bathroom Remodeling
As a homeowner who tries to live as green as possible, you're probably looking for ways you can reduce the amount of energy and water your home uses on a regular basis, as well as finding sustainable and lower-polluting alternatives to hardwood and other materials in your home. Your bathroom is a great place to start since it is one of the chief offenders in terms of water usage in your home due to the toilet and shower, plus you can take this opportunity to explore green options to remodel your bathroom as well.
Reduce Water Usage: The shower, sink and toilet naturally consume a good portion of the water in an average household. Starting with the sink and shower - the faucet and showerhead can both be replaxced with low-flow aerators which cut your water usage from the standard 2.5 gallons per minute to 1-1.5 gallons per minute by forcing air into the water, boosting the water pressure and compensating for the lower amount of water. Where the toilet is concerned - some models of low-flow toilets offer improved performance over the original designs introduced in 1994. However, another option for reducing water usage is to replace the toilet with a dual-flush model, which allows for the standard 1.6 gallons of water to be used for solids and 1 gallon or less for liquids, rather than using the same amount of water for every flush. Dual flush conversion kits are also available to retrofit your existing toilet to permit dual flushes.
Reduce Energy Usage: The bathroom also accounts for a good portion of your energy costs when it comes to heating water. Some simple ways to help reduce energy usage include insulating the water heater and surrounding pipes, helping to keep the water hot longer and reduce the energy consumed to bring the water up to the desired temperature. Dialing down the water heater to 120 degrees (most water heaters are set to 140) can also provide comfortably hot water while consuming less energy.
If your water heater is due for replacement, you have a couple of options that can cut your energy usage when it comes to heating water as well. Tankless water heaters produce water as needed rather than constantly consuming energy to keep water hot at all times, allowing them to be installed "in-line" for your shower and faucet to provide hot water for those areas as opposed to the entire house. Another fairly recent innovation is the condensing water heater, which improves on a standard gas-fired tank water heater by capturing the waste gases produced by heating the water and reuses them to generate additional heat, improving the energy-efficiency significantly. When choosing energy-efficient appliances for your home, look for the Energy Star label as this indicates they meet federal guidelines for energy-efficiency.
When looking at lighting options for your bathroom, consider replacing some of your incandescent fixtures with CFLs or LEDs to reduce energy usage. CFLs are fluorescent bulbs that use considerably less energy over their lifespan while LEDs are extremely energy-efficient and will last for years before requiring replacement, although the initial cost can be much more expensive. If your home's structure permits, adding a skylight or solar light tube in the ceiling can be a great way to bring more natural light into the bathroom.
Choose Sustainable Options For Remodeling Your Bathroom: With environmental concerns in mind, a range of sustainable materials can be utilized in your bathroom remodel including bamboo, cork, concrete and glass. Bamboo and cork are both produced using sustainable harvesting methods which do not kill the source plants and allows them to be repeatedly harvested, plus they offer natural resistance to water and microorganisms, making them ideal for bathroom flooring that can be very attractive as well.
In addition, concrete has seen more adoption in recent years as a substitute for natural stone in applications such as flooring and countertops since it can be dyed and patterned to resemble natural stone. Concrete also offers excellent heat retention properties which can make it ideal should you wish to install a heated floor system in the bathroom. More importantly from a green standpoint - waste byproducts such as fly ash can be used to manufacture concrete as well as old concrete recycled from other applications.
Finally, tiles produced from recycled stone or glass are another great option to look into for the floor, countertops and shower surround, among other areas. Recycled stone tiles are typically manufactured from waste products such as stone dust while recycled glass tiles may use glass reclaimed from demolition or manufacturing operations.
Avoid Products That Contain VOCs: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a growing concern as they can contribute to air pollution and more worrisome - may cause health problems if used in your home. Cabinets and paints are two potential sources of VOCs, but fortunately, it is possible to choose options that eliminate or greatly reduce VOC content. Green-friendly cabinets may be manufactured from bamboo or wheatboard (a form of fiber produced from wheat chaff) and will typically use glues that contain no urea-formaldehyde compounds which emit VOCs. Paint is another known source of VOCs - many top paint brand names now offer lines of paints specifically designed to reduce VOCs by cutting back on the toxic chemicals used to produce paint, while some smaller companies offer paints produced with non-toxic and sustainable options like milk, eliminating VOCs altogether.
Justin Krutz blogs on various home improvement topics for Palatin Remodeling, Los Angeles bathroom remodeling company.