Published on July 10th, 2015 | by Andrea Bertoli
4 Tips for Energy Efficiency in the Bathroom
How can you be a more efficient user of water? We have 4 tips for energy efficiency in the bathroom that will have you saving water, energy AND money immediately.
The best way to ensure energy efficiency in the bathroom is to reduce the need for water coming into the bathroom. Not only does this save water, but it reduces the amount of energy used to move water around. Think about this: water for your city comes from an aquifer or city water treatment plant, and then needs to make it to your house. To move water around the city and homes, huge amounts of electricity is used. In California, about 22% of the state’s electricity is used to move water. This is a hidden cost of water, and it can make a big difference in our overall electric usage.
Learn more about the hidden costs of water in California from the Natural Resource Defense Council; many of the lessons learned can be extrapolated to other locales.
Second, before reducing your water usage, it’s helpful to know how much water you’re actually using. Check the flow rate on your shower heads and faucet aerators by reading the specs on the item itself, or by using a flow rate bag to check. Then, check your bills:
Your bathroom water usage can be reduced by almost half by making quick switches with some simple hardware. Some of these have an upfront cost– but like most home energy efficiency measures, they pay for themselves really quickly (how quickly depends exactly on your local rates).
1. High Efficiency Shower Heads: Most shower heads have 2.5 gallons per minute flow rates, and modern high efficiency shower heads can reduce that amount by half or more. Newer fixtures maintain pressure and don’t sacrifice water flow for efficiency like earlier models did. In fact, it will be hard to tell any difference after you swap them out!
2. High Efficiency faucets: Just like high efficiency showers, high efficiency faucet aerators are easy to install and can reduce your water usage by at least half immediately. Faucet aerators are one of the cheapest options for reducing the water usage in your home too, making the payback period super fast. Also like high efficiency shower heads, newer models of aerators are designed to keep pressure high while reducing the flow, so you don’t need to sacrifice! Don’t forget to check for leaks for drips in your faucets, which can waste gallons of water a day.
3. Low Flow toilets: If you have a newer home, chances are your toilet is a dual flush (meaning it has one setting with less water for number one, and more water for number two). If you don’t have a dual-flush toilet, you can install a flush convertor, which allows you to change settings depending on how much water you need per flush. The cheapest option is to install a tank bag, which simply displaces the water used in the tank to reduce the amount of each flush. Don’t use a brick in your toilet tank, as it can damage pipes. And don’t forget to check for leaks for drips in your toilet tank or supply line, which can waste gallons of water a day.
4. Bathroom lighting: Most bathrooms are way too bright because they are over-lit. The brightness of a room can be measured with a light meter, which can tell you how bright the room really is, and then you can compare to national standards of lighting needs. If you have a four or five-bulb vanity above the sink, you can probably unscrew at least two of them and still have a sufficient amount of light by which you can do all your bathroom activities. Swapping out the bulbs in the bathroom for LEDs will cut the usage drastically, and often you can leave some of the lights off with LEDs too.