ABOVE PHOTO: The WaterSense-certified VorMax high-efficiency toilet from American Standard delivers a powerful, horizontal jet of water to thoroughly scrub the bowl with every flush, all while using only 1.28 gallons of water per flush.
If you’re considering a green home renovation, or building an eco-friendly house, you’ll likely put a lot of thought into heating and cooling, as well as kitchen appliances. But don’t overlook the value of greening your bathrooms, too. Environmentally-friendly bathrooms can conserve water and energy, while helping create a healthier home atmosphere by reducing the need for chemical cleaners.
The National Home Builders Association expects growth in the green building market to rise approximately 30 percent by 2016, as reported by the real estate website Zillow. Bathroom renovations continue to be among the home projects with the highest return on investment, so greening yours can save money while you’re living in your house, plus pay off when it’s time to sell.
As you’re choosing eco-conscious plumbing fixtures for the bathroom, keep a few key considerations in mind:
Low-flow bathroom fixtures abound, and today’s models are significantly improved over earlier versions that conserved water at the expense of effectiveness and user experience. Look for WaterSense labeled products to help ensure your toilet, showerhead and faucet choices are water-saving, high performing styles.
Products like the VorMax high efficiency toilet from American Standard use less water, yet can provide a more effective flush than standard toilets. The VorMax cleans two times better than comparable commodes, delivering the cleanest flush ever engineered, while using 20 percent less water per flush than typical toilet models.
Replacing standard showerheads with water and energy-efficient options can also help reduce water usage without sacrificing the user’s experience. From basic models to luxury choices, manufacturers offer a range of water-saving showerheads that produce powerful, fulfilling spray patterns suitable for any bathroom remodeling project. Installing water-efficient fixtures can help your family use 30 percent less water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
While bathrooms generally consume less electricity than other rooms in the house, it still pays to keep efficiency in mind when choosing bathroom lighting and ventilation fans. Look for light fixtures that are Energy Star-rated. Replace incandescent bulbs with more efficient LEDs or CFLs. Choose a ventilation fan that can remove humidity and odors from the room while still conserving energy.
While you’re upgrading your bathroom’s productivity, don’t forget that all those hot showers contribute to the bathroom’s overall energy footprint, too. If your water heater is an older, inefficient model, upgrading to a newer Energy Star-rated model can significantly reduce energy bills. According to the EPA, water heaters are the second highest source of energy usage in the home.
Chemical cleansers have been linked to allergies, asthma and other respiratory ailments, which could explain why 75 percent of respondents to the J.R. Watkins Cleaning Survey by Kelton said they believe it’s important to use natural products when cleaning around the home. It’s possible to choose bathroom materials that can help minimize the need for harsh chemical cleaners.
Fixtures that perform more efficiently can help you spend less time cleaning and reduce the use of chemicals to stay sparkling and sanitary. Choosing a toilet with an antimicrobial surface that helps prevent the growth of germs, mold and stain can reduce the need for overly powerful cleaning products. And opting for stain-resistant bathroom tiles, grout and countertops can help deter mold and mildew growth while allowing you to clean less.
A greener bathroom can easily be a cleaner, high-performing and healthier room for you and your family to live and grow, with simple choices that can improve the environment, inside and out.