Bathroom renovation is one of the more valuable home renovation projects and an ideal way to revamp your home if you don't have a lot of cash to begin with. Additionally, you can drastically improve water and energy efficiency in this small room to cut your expenses as well as making it more comfortable for yourself and family. This article discusses options to improve your bathroom while saving the environment.
1. Cabinets and general fixtures
Use recycled/upcycled tiles and countertops and certified forest cabinetry and flooring or local-sourced materials. At the home improvement store (or talk to your contractor), ask about low-pollution, low-emission, no- or low-maintenance products/finishes that will serve you for years. Additionally, plan in advance for how you can recycle, upcycle or dispose of your old cabinets and fixtures.
Before you start, think about future needs: e.g. as family members grow older. Pre-empt these by making sure fixtures are at a comfortable height, place grab bars for the toilet and bathroom and ensure your shower or tub is finished with non-slip material. Finally, place your showerhead on a vertical sliding bar, so that its height can be adjusted by the user as needed.
2. Plumbing fixtures
Replace all your old plumbing fixtures with low-flow showerheads and taps, and use an ultra-low flushing WC which uses as little as 5 litres of water per flush. The shower and toilet account for approximately 50 per cent of the water used in the house every day, and so improving consumption in these areas can make significant savings to your water bills.
3. Electrical appliances
Heating water is one of the biggest energy consumers in the average home, and so if you have an old energy-inefficient system, consider replacing it with a modern, energy-efficient heat pump. While expensive on the outset, you will recoup this lump-sum in energy savings within a few years of using the pump. A solar water-heating system is also an option if you can afford it.
If you don't have the money to overhaul the heating system, simply have your old heater inspected by a qualified technician. He can reduce the water heating temperature by a few degrees to make significant savings to your bill, and you probably won't notice the cooler water.
Ensure your lighting fixtures, windows and exhaust fans are energy-efficient, with the highest ENERGY STAR rating you can afford. Insulate your pipes in the walls and ceilings to prevent energy loss through radiation.