Design A More Sustainable Bath

This article was submitted by guest author Erik Braunitzer of Douglas Elliman Real Estate Company, Agents for Bronx Condos.

There are plenty of products designed specifically for saving time, money and resources. When it comes to owning a home, “Energy Efficiency” isn’t taken lightly, especially for those of us with plans to remain in one spot for a long while. Having a 95% efficient furnace could mean the difference of 200 – 500 dollars in savings a year. With this in mind, many people are taking into consideration the short-term costs required for updating different areas where energy is most used.

The Kitchen has always been know to be a power suck; with all the large appliances and heavy traffic, it’s hard to imagine there’s any other area of the house that could match the kitchen. Yet, there’s one room that gives it a run for it’s money, and that’s that Bathroom.

A toilet alone can use nearly 30% of your household water. That’s a tremendous chunk of your quarterly water bill. Water conservation is amongst some of the 21st centuries biggest focuses as nearly half the population of the entire world is without sanitary drinking water.

Save Energy, Water and Money

Homeowners tend to take advantage of this by letting their faucets run for ridiculous amounts of time, performing laundry 10 times a week and over-watering their foliage. Of course, there’s your run of the mill advice like “don’t let the water run while rinsing dishes,” or “water your lawn in the morning to minimize evaporation.” But what people really set their minds on is sustainable design, and how they can invest in materials and products that will save energy, water and money.

In 2006, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) introduced the WaterSense program, which is a certified indicator of the level of efficiency in water-related products. Similarly, it’s used as a performance indicator, so you can see which products is most efficient altogether. In one such report, a toilet with WaterSense helped save one family nearly 4000 gallons of water a year.

Other than this, people and companies have invested in things like infrared faucets for automatic turn-on/off. If you take a trip to your local mall, or perhaps a large public facility, you’ll notice most toilets/sinks already come equipped with these types of sensors, eliminating plenty of water waste.

But redesigning a sustainable bathroom constitutes more than just water conservation. The materials that go into design (i.e. sheetrock, tile, hardwoods, etc…) can all be made from recycle or reclaimed materials. And if you really want to make an impact, you’ll use energy efficient light bulbs and ventilation that requires a low voltage motor.

Typically, people will toss their towels into a pile, which doesn’t allow them to dry properly. This is poor practice for improving your carbon footprint; the greater the number of dirty towels, the more laundry that there is to be done. It would be wise to invest in a simple rack or system that permits hanging. If possible, installing a window inside your bathroom will improve air circulation, allowing things to dry faster and ultimately keeping a better smelling room.

Granted, the bathroom can become quite humid or hot at times, which can ultimately boost the evaporation of volatile paints or other similar materials. You should invest in low-VOC content paint types for application and reapplication. And ultimately, you should always invest in toilet paper and day-to-day materials that are eco-friendly and won’t clog or damage your system(s).

Whether you’re re-designing a bath or simply replacing an old toilet, achieving a more sustainable bathroom is simple. It may cost you a little more up front, but the long-term benefits of the investment will soon outweigh the expenditure.