The bathroom is one of the most essential rooms of the home. It is the place where we do our crucial business, and even escape to for a while to read a good book. It is also without a doubt the place where we use the most water in the home.
How can we save on water in the bathroom? This is perhaps the most crucial part of an energy-efficient bathroom plan. Aside from the benefits of saving extra energy required in water treatment, conservation is increasingly important in dry regions, and people are learning to value freshwater even in areas where water resources are abundant.
Check out the following energy-saving tips. They are so simple to incorporate into your daily life, even your kids will be on board. These will have you saving water, energy AND money in no time at all, without breaking the bank.
Forgo the bath for the shower Rather than take a daily bath, enjoy a refreshing shower instead and think of relaxing in the tub as an occasional treat. The average freestanding tub uses between 35-50 gallons of water, whereas a 10 minute shower (with a low-flow shower head) uses only 25 gallons.
Change your showerhead Many people think that a low-flow showerhead means you’ll only get a trickle of water. But it’s easy to find a water-restricting head that offers a satisfying spray. A water-efficient showerhead uses no more than 2 gallons of water per minute, compared to the old standard of 6 gallons. You can also find showerheads that aerate the water, offering a drenching spray for only 1.25 gallons per minute.
Implement a shower timer Cutting down shower time is also a good way to conserve water, and prevent prune-like skin. Every household has a shower hogger. We have two teens in ours who would be in there all day if left to their own devices. But with a shower timer, you can save time, water and your sanity - all at the same time. Plus experts say three minutes is all you need to get clean.
Try a “Navy shower.” If you’re serious about saving water, you could take a “Navy shower.” Designed to conserve freshwater while on deployment, Navy showers (or GI baths) are easy to learn. First, turn on the shower to wet yourself down. Then, turn off the water while you lather up. Finally, resume the shower and rinse the lather off. Then why not finish it off with a cold rinse to get your circulation going! This technique significantly reduces the amount of water (and heat) you use during a shower and will make you feel ready to take on the day like GI Jane or Joe.
Wash Less... If those around you can stand it, and depending on the day and your activity level, why not take a shower every other day. At the least wash hair every other day, or even every couple of days. On the flip side, a shower-phobic teen may readily agree not to shower for a while, which may help (depending on which way you look at it).
On a side note: I remember my grandmother thought nothing of taking a daily wash with a basin and washcloth, showering just a few times a week. Perhaps a symptom of living in England during World War 2, when the British Government encouraged the public to ration their use of hot water and conserve fuel supplies. where families were only allowed a small amount of bathwater a week, with some reporting an allowance of just 5 inches of bathwater per family once a week. Can you imagine?
Limit Bath Water For the serious bath-lovers out there - try filling the tub halfway (way more than 5 inches) to save water. Remember not to leave it running and forget (as I have done) only to return with the bath level too high and needing draining (and wasting water). Also, don’t wait for the water to get hot before plugging the drain. Plug the drain first and adjust the temperature as the tub fills. This can save lots of water in the long run. Bath water is also particularly useful for watering indoor and outdoor plants, especially during times of heat and drought. Just make sure to water around the base of your plants rather than directly on the foliage to prevent leaf burn.
Keep Sinks in Check Sinks are another water-wasting culprit. Simply washing your hands can use a gallon of water (check out how long on average)— more if you run the tap until the water gets hot. Keeping your faucets in good condition, fixing leaks promptly, addressing sink clogs and changing a few hygiene habits can help reduce water consumption at the bathroom sink.
WaterSense-labeled Faucets These are low-flow faucets capable of saving 30% of the amount of water that flows through a faucet every minute. While standard faucets have a flow rate of 2.2 gallons per minute, WaterSense faucets use no more than 1.5 gallons per minute.
Install an aerator This is one of the easiest fixes you can make to conserve water. For just a few dollars, you can screw on an aerator to the end of your sink faucet. It mixes air into the water stream so you use less water but rarely notice the difference in pressure.
Turn off the Tap People tend to leave bathroom taps running when they’re doing “quick” tasks. After all, how much water will be wasted in the time it takes to brush your teeth? Quite a bit, as it turns out: Turning off the tap while brushing can save up to 200 gallons a month.
Fill up the Sink Like when you’re brushing your teeth, leaving the faucet running while you shave wastes water and energy. Instead, fill up the sink halfway and then shave. You’ll save water without extending how much time you spend shaving.
Fix leaky faucets According to the EPA, the average household loses almost 10,000 gallons of water to leaky faucets and pipes every year — with 10% of homes losing 90 gallons to leaks every single day. Check faucets and bathroom pipes for leaks regularly, and fix any leaks you find as soon as possible.
Finally, we get to one of the largest users of water in the bathroom: the humble toilet. The average toilet uses 3 gallons per flush, and the average person flushes about five times a day. A family of four, then, might use 60 gallons of water a day just flushing. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your toilet’s water use.
Choose high-efficiency toilets High-efficiency toilets use water velocity instead of water volume to remove waste. As such, these water-saving toilets can flush out a toilet bowl using as little as 1.28 gallons.
Upgrade to a water saving toilet 30% of all water used in the home is flushed down the toilet every day. Older toilets can actually use 5-7 gallons of water per flush, but newer low-flow versions can use as little as 1.6 gallons when flushed. When you take into consideration that the average person flushes five times a day, the gallons soon start to add up. If you can afford to do so, replace your old toilet with a low-flush model. Alternatively, fill a plastic bottle with water and place it in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used when flushing.
Put a plastic bottle in your toilet tank If you’re not ready to replace an older toilet, you can reduce the amount of water used per flush with this simple trick. Fill a plastic bottle with water, sand or rocks and place it in the tank, making sure the bottle doesn’t touch any moving parts. The bottle displaces water, reducing the amount used with each flush.
Make sure your toilet stopper seals after every flush If your toilet continues to run after the tank refills, the toilet stopper or flapper may not be sealing correctly. Left alone, an unsealed stopper can waste hundreds of gallons (costing hundreds of dollars) of water over the course of a year. A new flapper costs about $10 and can be installed by most people with basic DIY skills.
Install a toilet fill cycle diverter Toilet fill cycle diverters help conserve water by diverting a portion of the water that would otherwise sit in the bowl to the tank. Less water sits in the bowl, and the tank fills faster. With the right diverter, you can save up to a half-gallon per flush.
Toss trash in the garbage, not the toilet Waste and bathroom paper are the only items that should be flushed down toilets. When people flush cigarette butts, paper, plastics, and other items, they’re wasting up to 3 gallons per flush that could be saved by depositing such items in the trash. Using the toilet as a trash can also introduce items into water treatment plants that force the plant to work harder.
Humidity Fan You should definitely turn on the fan after you shower to remove humidity, but don’t leave on for more than 20 minutes. Leaving it on longer can potentially suck all the heat from your home.
Check your tap Temperature For safety, water shouldn't be more than 49°C when it comes out of your tap. Adjust the temperature at the mixing valve that's en route to your fixtures if you can. But remember that electric storage-type heaters need to be set at 60°C, per the BC Plumbing Code, at the source.
So there you have it. Some simple, yet effective tips that can help contribute to a smarter, more energy efficient bathroom.
Do you have any tips for an energy efficient bathroom that have worked for you?