Change isn’t always easy but sometimes it is necessary. A dated bathroom is not only hard on the eyes, but it also wastes a significant amount of water, uses more energy, and can give your home bad indoor air quality. Over the years there have been incredible innovations in bathroom fixtures, which means a bathroom remodel can drastically reduce your eco-footprint – and reduce your utility bills, as well.
Here’s a checklist for an eco-friendly bathroom remodel to help you make your home more sustainable.
#1 Find An Eco-Expert Contractor
Find someone with previous experience in sustainable renovations, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, and money by choosing someone who’s familiar with products and materials that are going to reduce your energy and water use and reduce your exposure to risky chemicals. Meet with a few different companies before choosing one. You and the contractor are going to go through a lot together, so you need to feel like your personalities, vision for the project, and passion for the environment mesh well.
#2 Pick Water-Wise Fixtures
Water-using fixtures in a building include cisterns and commodes, faucets, showerheads, urinals, etc, apart from other appliances like washing machines and dishwashers. Water wastage is one of the key factors contributing to pressure on our planet, and the worst culprit in your home is the bathroom. Aside from having shorter showers, the easiest way to achieve water efficiency is installing eco-fixtures to your shower head and taps. This will allow for low water flow but won’t compromise on pressure. Your toilet also uses more water than your shower or washing machine, so invest in a dual flush system to help bring your water consumption down. If you’re in the market for new tap ware, shower, or toilet, keep an eye out for flow fixtures, sensor taps, Aerators, and pay close attention to the star rating it has been given.
#3 Install Energy-Efficient Equipment
Energy conservation is one of the easiest and quickest ways to turn your bathroom green. The three main areas you should specifically target are: heating, lighting, and vent fans. Switching all your bathroom lights to low-energy bulbs will not only save you money, it will mean your home is prepared for the future. Vent fans are an essential component of bathrooms as they remove odours and moisture that creates mould. It’s important to keep the fan running throughout your shower, and for at least 15 minutes afterwards to prevent mould growth, but of course it uses a lot of energy, so switching to an energy efficient ventilation fan will cut your energy use. Several studies have shown that the maximum energy one uses at home is for heating water. Replacing geysers or water heaters with a more efficient model should be a part of an eco-friendly bathroom remodel. Look for the ENERGY STAR logo so you know the product’s been certified.
#4 Customise Cabinets And Vanities
Plywood, pressed wood, particle board, and fibreboard these materials use glues that contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, which off-gasses into your air. Build better eco-cabinets and vanities using safer materials like formaldehyde-free woods, solid wood, recycled wood, reclaimed wood, FSC certified wood, bamboo, recycled steel, or even recycled concrete. When you’re choosing a countertop, consider one made from materials like concrete, steel or tile.
#5 Paint Selections
Painting a room as small as a bathroom could raise many doubts and challenges. The impact of water and moisture is very significant in the bathroom. It makes the walls, roofs, and windows all susceptible to mould or bacterial growth. Ignoring it can lead to serious health issues and breathing disorders in the long run. Describing a paint, finish or lacquer as eco-friendly means that it doesn’t contain airborne chemicals or gases that will wreak havoc on your health. These low-level toxic emissions are called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that leach out into the air, and cause symptoms like headaches, dizziness, visual and respiratory impairment—even memory loss.
#6 Safe, Sustainable Flooring
Bath floors play host to splashed water, wet feet, spills and makeup marks, so durability and hygiene are essential. Concrete can act as both the finish material and structural floor. Terrazzo gets high marks for durability and good looks. This material, made of chips of marble or granite set in concrete and polished, also can score high for sustainability if you use no- or low-VOC sealers and low-impact aggregates such as recycled glass. Recycled glass tile, with its jewel like qualities and bevy of colour options, makes greening your bath a breeze. Ceramic tile floors made from post-industrial recycled content, including ceramic waste material from discarded clay and tableware pieces is also a great option.
#7 Pay Attention To Everyday Products
Think about what happens to the items in your bathroom when you’ve finished with them. Can you reuse or refill them? Are they biodegradable? Bamboo, ceramic, and glass are the perfect eco-choices for your bathroom. These are renewable, hard-wearing material. You can find sustainable products everywhere from toilet paper, to towels, and even bathrooms sets. Use as much natural material throughout your bathroom as possible. Try moss bathmats, the latest eco-trend that brings nature indoors.
Upcycling is a fun and creative way to use recycled materials in your bathroom. Whilst the materials themselves might not be entirely environmentally friendly, recycling prevents them from going into landfills and damaging the eco-system. Think of new ways you can implement them in the updated bathroom. There might be tiles, bathtubs, sinks, vanities or cabinets that could all be upcycled in various ways. Go to second hand furniture and homewares stores for bits and pieces, or whole items that you can repurpose.