Sustainable Bathroom Remodeling Will Benefit You In Many Ways
Sustainability = Healthy. When you create a sustainable bathroom, you’re building a healthy home environment, and a healthy planet. Sustainable bathroom remodeling is choosing:
- Plumbing that saves water
- Water heating and room heating that saves energy
- Ventilation that cleanses the air
- Surface finishes that are safe and easy to clean
Plumbing That Saves Water
The major water-waster in your bathroom is the toilet, followed by the bath tub. A leaking toilet flapper valve can waste 300 gallons in one day. A 3.5 gallon-per-flush toilet uses 27% of the water for your home. The average deep soaking or hydrotherapy tub requires a minimum of 80 gallons every time you bathe. A leaking faucet can waste up to 50 gallons of water every day. What are your options?
- Toilets made by all major manufacturers must comply with EPA regulations, a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf). Toto, Kohler, and American Standard are the top three manufacturers having a wide range of options for water use (.9 to 1.6 gpf, single or dual flush), and style. They also provide bidet toilet seats (there are many other manufacturers of bidet toilet seats). For the ultimate in water-saving and space-conserving toilets, Sinkpositive introduced a toilet that has a sink on top of the tank that recycles gray water when you flush the toilet.
- Soaking and hydrotherapy tubs were discussed in a previous article about saving water and energy. The same blog contains relevant information about shower systems for a sustainable bathroom.
Water Heating That Saves Energy And Money
Demand water heaters can save energy and save you money. Approximately 10% of your total energy bill is for heating water. It is expensive to replace a 50- to 80-gallon storage water heater with a tankless water heater. Statistically, you will save between $80 and $100 a year on your water heating energy bill, but it will take about 22 years to recoup your investment in a whole-house tankless water heater. Consider adding a tankless water heater for the bathroom, while you’re planning for a sustainable bathroom remodeling.
The flow rate and water temperature are the determining factors for the size of a tankless water heater. The flow rate for tubs is 4 gallons per minute (gpm); the flow rate for showers and lavatory faucets is 2.5-3 gpm. According to Compact Appliance, “a 70°F water temperature rise is possible at a flow rate of 5 gallons per minute through gas-fired demand water heaters and 2 gallons per minute through electric ones.” The Energy Star website shows 91 gas tankless water heater models from different manufacturers.
Room Heating That Saves Energy And Money
Radiant floor heating is the best solution for all bathrooms, not just your sustainable bathroom, if you want your bathroom to be comfortable without heating your home to do it. According to Resnet, “Radiant heating is considered to be very energy-efficient because no heating is lost in transfer, as is the case with forced air heating where heated air travels through ducts from the furnace to the various rooms in the house. Radiant heating heats you up much in the same manner that the sun does. There is no wasted air that rises to the top of your home, just a warming feeling that happens to be energy-efficient! If installed in the floors, ceramic tile makes for the best radiant heating floor covering because ceramic is the best heat conductor of all flooring choices.” Radiant floor heating is controlled by a thermostat in your bathroom, so you can adjust the temperature and the best heating schedule for your needs.
Ventilation That Cleanses The Air
Ventilation is very important, and it’s essential to select the right exhaust fan for your bathroom. Windows (and skylights) are great, but they do not actively remove all of the heat and moisture that mold and mildew love. I’ve written two articles about ventilation: “Why Do You Need An Exhaust Fan?” and “The Best 6 Exhaust Fans Under $150″.
Surface Finishes That Are Safe And Easy To Clean
The Center For Disease Control reported alarming statistics for 2008:
“An estimated 234,094 nonfatal bathroom injuries among persons aged ≥15 years were treated in the U.S., for an injury rate of 96.4 per 100,000 population. The rate for women was 121.2 per 100,000 and was 72% higher than the rate for men (70.4 per 100,000). Although approximately the same number of cases occurred in each 10-year age group, injury rates increased with age.
“The highest rates were for injuries that occurred in or around the tub or shower (65.8 per 100,000) and injuries that happened on or near the toilet (22.5 per 100,000). The precipitating events in 37.3% of injuries were bathing (excluding slipping while bathing), showering, or getting out of the tub or shower; only 2.2% occurred while getting into the tub or shower. The precipitating event for 17.3% of injuries was slipping, which included slipping while bathing; 14.1% occurred when standing up from, sitting down on, or using the toilet.”
This confirms the need for Homeowners to carefully choose slip-resistant flooring when planning to remodel a bathroom. It also validates the argument for having and using grab bars.
Bathroom surfaces have been explored previously in Bathroom Safety is #1. Here are links to manufacturers that have appeared in other articles:
- Countertops: Cambria, Paperstone, Richlite, Vetrazzo.
- Tile: American Olean, DalTile, Emser, Florida Tile, United Tile.
Bottom line: Designing and remodeling a sustainable bathroom will benefit you, your home, and your planet. See information and photos for the featured project.
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