In looking for good home improvement ideas, you might look at easy fixes for your bathrooms. The bathroom is a great place to increase household sustainability because it’s a room where so many resources get used. Between plumbing, ventilation, heating, and lighting, there are a number of changes you can make in the bathroom to make it more eco- and budget-friendly—without doing a major renovation or upgrade.
Here are some ideas for small-scale home improvement projects that can make a big difference in your household’s resource consumption.
High-Maintenance vs. Low-Maintenance Bathroom Products
Bathrooms are wet places where mold and mildew thrive, so bathroom products and materials need to be protected from water and mildew damage. Low-maintenance products tend to be more sustainable in a number of ways, because they don’t require the regular use of additional products for protection, don’t need to be replaced as often, and require less time and energy overall.
Consider porcelain tile versus marble. The marble tile will need resealing every 6 to 12 months, is more easily damaged, and more likely to need replacing. Durable porcelain tile is a no-maintenance product that’s easy to clean and easier to fix or replace locally as needed.
Water Conservation Bathroom Fixtures
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Partnership Program, the bathroom is the largest consumer of household water, and the toilet alone accounts for nearly 30% of household water use. Based on these numbers, the most important change to make in the bathroom today is to replace conventional toilets with dual-flush models that can reduce toilet water consumption by up to 30 percent. Composting toilets, urinals, bidets, and graywater reuse toilets will cut toilet water consumption even more.
Replacing faucets and showerheads with low-flow models is another important and more affordable change that can cut water use through those channels by up to 30 percent. Replacing existing faucet parts can also help reduce water consumption. Leaking faucets and malfunctioning plumbing fixtures account for an average of 14% of daily household water use. Adding an aerator to a faucet can reduce water flow by up to 25 percent.
Bathroom Lighting Choices
There’s a world of difference between a bathroom with a window and a bathroom without one. Not only is ventilation much more efficient, but so are daytime lighting options. But adding a window to a bathroom without one can be an expensive home improvement and may not even be an option in some bathrooms.
A skylight is a slightly more affordable option in upper-level bathrooms, and one that doesn’t take up wall space in smaller bathrooms. A reflective sun tunnel or solar tube is a more affordable choice that can work in upper or lower-level bathrooms. These light tubes direct and disperse natural light into the home during daylight hours.
Additionally, LED lighting fixtures are an excellent way to reduce artificial light consumption in the bathroom. LED lights use 75% less energy and last 25% longer than incandescent bulbs, according to energy.gov. Although LED fixtures are an investment that pays for itself, a more affordable quick fix is to replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones, which can reduce the energy used for lighting by over 50 percent.
Poor ventilation will reduce the life of your entire bathroom. A bathroom without a fan should make this easy home improvement a priority. Install a high-efficiency, low-noise bathroom fan on a timer, which allows you to properly ventilate without running the fan extensively.
bathroom image by Wikimedia Commons