Let me paint a picture and you let me know if this sounds familiar. So you’re having a great day, enjoying breakfast with your family, sifting through your mail; then all of a sudden you get to your energy bill…
Need I say more?
No one likes getting a large energy bill, so here are 8 ways to make your bathroom more energy efficient, allowing you to save money and lower your carbon footprint in the long term.
- Convert to Water Saving Shower Heads.
- Install Aerated Taps and Faucets.
- Upgrade to Low Flow and Energy Efficient Toilets.
- Address Issues with Windows, Walls, and Other Surfaces.
- Lower the Water Heater Temperature.
- Switch to Energy Saving Light bulbs and Install Motion Detectors.
- Install Solar Panels and Cells for Your Home.
- Bonus: What Can I do to Help?
Look the choice is yours, you could continue to pay ridiculous amounts of money month in, month out. Or you could bite the bullet and convert to a smart bathroom by considering the energy efficient saving methods outlined in this article. I have also included a little bonus point at the end. Small changes you can make which are completely free which could be saving you energy right now.
1. Convert to Water Saving Shower Heads
If you have an old bathroom area then your shower head is probably ancient as well… sorry, it’s true.
Most of the older showerhead models dispense about 2.5 gallons of water every minute. You could cut this number in half with a more efficient shower head!
A modern low flow shower head is an ideal and cheap way to increase the energy efficiency of your bathroom. They will save water without minimizing or trading-off shower pressure.
As a result, less water will require heating or will spew off wasted.
2. Install Aerated Taps and Faucets
Remember how back in chemistry class the faucets would have smooth crystal clear water flowing out? That’s because those taps didn’t have aerated heads.
Installing aerated faucets in your bathroom is a super simple and inexpensive way to save energy and water. The head has a little component inside that spins making the water seem bubbly and white.
You will still have highly pressurized water coming out but the flow of water is reduced, saving on water and it even feels nice on the skin. The average cost is around $8 so your payback time is pretty short!
3. Upgrade to Low Flow and Energy Efficient Toilets
This is among the more expensive changes that can be made but if you do in fact decide to go down the path of having an efficient toilet, you will be one step closer to a smart bathroom.
Those two cute little half-moon shaped buttons on your toilet aren’t just for the design, they serve a function of regulating how much water is used during every flush. Most modern bathrooms already have efficient flush mechanisms. But if you still have an older type WC, then a nice shiny new one will not only look better but start saving you a bit on water costs as payback.
Of course, there are cheaper alternatives. You could install a flush converter which allows you to control the amount of water used or a tank bag which will displace water used preventing water wastage.
The only problem with these is that the water mechanics of the toilet basin design do play a part in flushing efficiency. Some toilets are not very good at flushing depending on the design of the bowl and U-bend and the way the flushing water is forced to flow. The reason I mention this is that if you have an inefficient basin then reducing the quantity of water may not result in a satisfactory flush.
Your number one’s and number two’s don’t need the same flushing power, so why use the same amount of water and energy for both?
4. Addressing Issues with Windows, Walls, and Other Surfaces
Like the low flow toilet, replacing your bathroom surfaces and improving your windows is more costly but will actually save you thousands in repair. Remodeling costs will also be offset to a large extent in the value of your asset. In some cases remodelling a shower can result in a bigger increase in the value of your house than the cost of remodelling itself.
Anyway, unless you can shake yourself dry like a dog, you are going to leave puddles and splashes of water every time you step out of your shower. If your floors, walls, and other surfaces aren’t waterproof then you are going to be having issues very soon.
You won’t even realize your surfaces are expanding and hosting mold and fungus below until it’s too late. Luckily you can avoid this horrible sight and the labor fees of having the mold removed and the surface replaced, by investing in good waterproof surfaces.
There are a few options you could go with at different price points.
Among the cheapest are plastic and acrylic sheets and covers. These come in different colors and designs and are easy to install. The downside is that they scratch easily and don’t look the best.
More expensive sheets include those made of glossy laminate and natural stone and are beautiful but can be fragile and crumble.
Ceramic or porcelain tiles really hit the hammer on the head. They are affordable, durable, and come in various custom designs, shapes, and colors. For longevity and optimal water resistance, you have to install these properly which probably means hiring a contractor.
Whatever it is you decide to do, make sure your surfaces are waterproof.
If you trust your neighbors enough to have windows in your bathroom well then I am sure you have very good reasons!
Sealing your windows properly avoids water from the outside from seeping in but more importantly avoids drafts and heat loss.
Proper insulation will also regulate the temperature within your bathroom keeping the hot air in and the cold air out, or vice versa. That is important because getting out of a shower into a cold room is just not inviting. That means you will either crank up the central heating thermostat to compensate or you will just make excuses to shower for longer. Either way you’ll be using more power.
5. Lowering the Water Heater Temperature
You know how your shower magically becomes warm when you turn the handle to that little red dot with the letter “H” on it? Well, it’s not the work of wizards or dwarfs, there is a water heater hidden in your basement, attic, or some storage area within your home.
The good news is you don’t need a masters degree in engineering to figure out how it works. The good news is also the bad news because the ease of turning up the thermostat exponentially increases the likelihood that you will, in fact, turn it up. If you need an expert source then I suggest consulting yourself – how many times have you turned it up just a little bit more because baby it’s cold outside.
Most thermostatic mixer models will have a preset factory setting of 140 degrees. You can easily decrease the temperature at least 20-25 degrees. I was going to say that you wouldn’t feel the effects, but that’s actually a lie initially, but after a few seconds your skin will just get acclimatized and you will actually not feel much different.
So turning down the temperature before you get in and resisting the urge to keep turning it up a smidgen is a smart no-cost way to save energy. It will also reduce the strain on your pipes which will corrode at a slower rate if the water temperature is decreased.
Oh, and if you are considering getting a heated water tank, then make sure it doesn’t heat the water except at times it is likely to be used. You can do this with a timer quite efficiently. While you’re at it make sure it is insulated as well – but you knew that already I’ll wager.
6. Switch to Energy Saving Lightbulbs and Install Motion Detectors
Did you hear that? That’s the sound of you saving money!
Energy efficient light bulbs like LED or CFL are a bit pricey but they will last 20 times more than your average light bulb and will cut your energy bill significantly.
It’s generally a good idea to have these bad boys all around your home. Ok, well they are good boys then I guess but I don’t like the competition!
Before you even consider switching out your old light bulbs for low voltage or energy saving ones, identify which bulbs are absolutely necessary and which ones can hit the hay.
Look you aren’t performing surgery, it’s completely fine to have less lighting in the bathroom – up to a point. You do need to see what you doing of course but it needn’t be lit up like an operating theatre either.
Now, if you really want to have a smart bathroom consider installing a motion detector. Movement detecting sensors are perfect for homes with small children that forget to turn the lights off but they are also perfect for adults.
Anytime you forget to switch the lights off in your bathroom, the sensor will do so after a certain period of time, so your light won’t be on all day and night.
Don’t you just hate the hassle of switching a light on then off? Well, now you don’t have to!
Ok, that sounded too much like an infomercial, but you get the point.
7. Installing Solar Panels for Your Home
No, we aren’t sponsored by Bill and Malinda Gates, but they would also tell you to get solar panels for your home because you could be saving significant amounts of energy and money.
Of all the changes you can make, installing solar panels is the most expensive.
Your solar powered watch might have been quite cheap but try heating your bathroom or showering with your watch battery.
On the other hand, solar panels are driving the future of clean and efficient energy around the world and it would be a great long-term investment not only for your home but for your bathroom as well.
Installing solar cells on an average home will cost around $15,000. Yikes!
There is an alternative though which is to install a solar panel heated water tank which can supplement your existing water heater. The idea is that the sun heats the water during the day and the insulated tank keeps it warm until you come to use it. The water heater has to work much less as it is simply adding a bit of heat to already warm water rather than the ice cold stuff coming up out of the buried and cold water mains. Significant savings there!
The average installation will be ROI positive in about 4 to 6 years and while this may seem like a long time, don’t forget that you have a 30-year mortgage on your home. So eventually you would be putting money back in your pocket.
The other option is to consider installing less solar cells, specifically to cover the energy costs of your bathroom. This isn’t a project for everyone but those who can afford it and are on the fence about the decision definitely go solar!
8. Bonus: What Can I do to Help?
There are some things you can do right now to make your bathroom more energy efficient and it won’t cost you a dime!
Start by reducing the amount of time it takes for you to shower. Make it fun by competing against family members for the shortest time. Warning: the winner will be the dirtiest person. If you’re super brave, or quie mad, you could also try taking cold showers.
You should also avoid taking too many baths. Yes I know, I know, there is nothing better than curling up with a book and some wine in bath with exotic bath salts and creamy bubble bath but you could be saving considerably by switching to showers.
Remember to unplug devices like blow dryers, electric toothbrushes, and razors because even if they aren’t being used these products can still “suck up” electricity, also referred to as “vampire energy”… suck up… vampire … – oh never mind!
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Ian is the Editor for Weird By Design. An avid consumer of nice stuff, writer, blogger & computer power user.
Interested in Design, Trading Markets & the finer things in life.