When you’re remodeling any part of your home, most of your concerns tend to revolve around the time, cost and effort required for the project. Making your home more eco-friendly doesn’t always top the list of priorities at this stage, but it really should. The planet (and your wallet) will thank you for it!
Bathrooms, in particular, are immense guzzlers of water and energy. A bathroom renovation is the best time to consider small changes that can add up to huge green results.
7 Bathroom Remodel Design Tips for a Healthier and More Eco-Conscious Home
These seven simple tips will help make your bathroom greener:
1. Low-VOC Materials
As you probably know, lead plumbing should be replaced right away, but that isn’t the only thing to worry about from a health perspective.
Many traditional materials emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that affect indoor air quality and pose a serious health risk for years. While choosing paint, grout, adhesives, caulk and sealers, opt for low-VOC or no-VOC materials as much as possible.
2. Better Ventilation
In addition to foul odors, damp bathrooms offer the perfect breeding ground for mold, bacteria and a host of other nasties. Make sure you’ve got adequate ventilation and maintain good airflow to keep your bathrooms dry.
Installing a bathroom fan isn’t always enough to release trapped moisture and heat from the space. Check that the fan expels air out of your home instead of into the spaces between walls and ceilings. To reduce energy use, consider an exhaust unit with a timer switch, motion sensor or humidity sensor.
3. Water Conservation
Bathrooms are responsible for almost half of all water used in a household, with most of it literally going down the drain. Newer low-flow showers and faucets, low-flush toilets and high-efficiency heaters offer excellent water-saving features.
Adopt better bathroom habits (shorter showers, repairing leaks and drips, closing taps while brushing/shaving, etc.), but take a good long look at your faucets, showerheads, toilet flush units and heaters, too.
4. Energy-Efficient Lighting
Whether it’s a small bathroom remodel or a larger space you’re taking on, the right lighting choices can cut down energy use tremendously. There’s a wide range of LED lights and low-wattage lighting systems that use very little electricity and emit less heat, too, so look into your options.
These may cost more initially, but the energy savings can make up for the difference in as little as a year (and they last up to 20 years!). Use natural light to your advantage with skylights and windows.
5. Water-Resistant Surfaces
Wallpaper and carpeting are your worst enemies during a bathroom remodel, since they offer no resistance to water. In a damp space, these materials will become a hot spot for mold and bacteria faster than you’d believe, and they’re often high in VOC emissions, too.
Bathrooms need to withstand heavy use, cleaning and water exposure. Stick to low-VOC finishes and materials that are water-resistant, such as ceramic or recycled-glass tiles. These are stylish and eco-friendly, and available in various designs and colors to suit every interior space.
6. Sustainably Sourced Fittings
Natural materials like bamboo and wood are popular choices for bathroom cabinets and fittings, but make sure they’re from sustainable sources.
Particle board and MDF (medium-density fiberboard) surfaces emit a carcinogenic gas called urea formaldehyde, so seal them with low-VOC or non-VOC materials or avoid using them at all.
7. Natural Products
While this isn’t technically a bathroom remodel tip, we believe it’s important, especially since natural and organic products help improve indoor air quality. Using chemical-laden products in an eco-friendly bathroom makes no sense, does it?
Instead, opt for cleaning products (or body, skin and hair care products) that are fragrance- and chemical-free.
Taking all these considerations into mind before you begin renovating your bathroom is the easiest way to ensure you have a clean, green space. Happy remodeling!
Wondering how to recycle items in the bathroom like shampoo bottles and toothpaste tubes? Check out our Bathroom Products Recycling Guide.
Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock.com