When it comes to saving energy and money in your home, one place that is commonly overlooked is the bathroom. And while the bathroom can burn money and energy, it is also the room where the most water can be conserved. The average toilet alone uses 20-30% of the water in a home and the shower or bath uses well over 50% of your household’s water. A large portion of the shower and bath water is hot, and hot water is one of the biggest energy users in a home. It’s time to start paying a little more attention to the bathroom with regards to energy consumption.
The most obvious way to save energy in your bathroom is to use less water, especially hot water. Spending a little money up front can save you a lot down the line. Installing a low-flow toilet, faucets and showerhead can pay big dividends on your energy bill. Installing a low-flow toilet alone can save thousands of gallon a water a year, reducing up to 70% of your annual water usage from toilet flushing. Adding a low-flow showerhead can cut your water usage while showering up to 70%, while a low-flow faucet aerator can reduce tap water use by 25-50%.
Saving water is the most obvious way to save energy, but what about less obvious ways? Take a moment to look at the plumbing. It’s not unusual to find hot water pipes that are completely exposed. Your hot water pipes should be insulated from the hot water heater all the way to your showerhead, and your water heater should be insulated too.
You can also put some of that hot water running down your drain to good use by installing a hot water re-ciculator (also called a waste-water recycling unit) which transfers the heat from used shower or bath water to the hot water pipe keeping it warmer and saving you money.
Every energy efficient bathroom should have a properly functioning vent fan to draw out the hot, moist air from the bathroom. This will keep your summertime cooling costs under control. Your bathroom should also have a vapor barrier separating it from the rest of the house so that heat from the bathroom doesn’t affect your home’s cooling costs.
One little known electricity thief is the moisture in the air itself. The high humidity that is usually present in a bathroom can be capable of carrying minute amounts of electrical currents that can potentially draw milliamps from your homes electrical system. For this reason, the bathroom really isn’t the best place to use electrical devices of any kind. Similarly, make sure that any electrical outlets in the bathroom are ground fault protected. When not in use, you can use a plastic child safety outlet covers to fill in the outlet. While this may not account for a lot of wasted energy, every little bit counts.