While eco friendly bathroom products are an excellent way to help reduce your household’s carbon footprint, a bathroom renovation on the other hand provides an excellent opportunity to make some more eco conscious choices right from the get-go, leading to a healthier and much more sustainable home.
If you are already planning on renovating your home’s bathroom, looking at some more eco-friendly solutions is the perfect way to start your research! When planning your renovation, there are several areas where you can make more environmentally-friendly choices that will help you in creating a new space that is not only more sustainable but will also lead to both short and long term savings.
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Re-Use & Re-Purpose Items in your Bathroom Renovation
Can anything from your existing bathroom be re-used or re-purposed?
When it comes time to demolish your existing bathroom, consider if any of the pieces in the space can be safely retained and re-used. Mirrored medicine cabinets, vanity units, hand basins or bathtubs: Are any of these items in a decent enough condition that they can either be re-used in your renovation, re-purposed in another area of the home or even donated?
If so, speak to your Contractor prior to demolition day and give them a heads up that you would prefer to hold onto these items so they should be removed carefully. If you do not have any use for these items, you can still have a chat with your Contractor and express your intentions that you are hoping to donate them – They should be able to find a better use for these items at no extra cost to you, saving them from landfill.
Including re-purposed pieces in your eco-friendly bathroom remodel is an excellent way to save an item from landfill; the more use we can get out something, the better!
A favourite set of cupboards for example, can be customised into a brand new vanity unit by simply sanding and painting the piece, changing up the handles and creating provisions for new plumbing to be fitted. There are many pieces of furniture you can use in a bathroom that although are not traditionally used in this space, offer some incredible benefits in themselves.
Some examples include: An ornate hall mirror, a re-vamped armoire or small bookshelf for added storage space, a re-finished ladder as a towel rack, or a fabulous ottoman that will definitely come in handy if you also use your bathroom as a dressing room.
Eco Friendly Bathroom Lighting Solutions
When planning out your new bathroom design, finding that perfect balance of natural and artificial lighting is crucial. Studies show that there is a direct link between our physical and mental health and the amount of natural light we receive each day, so making the most of any daylight in your new bathroom is not only highly beneficial in creating a more sustainable space, but will also promote general health and well being.
Some examples of effectively making the most of your bathroom’s natural lighting in your design include:
- If your bathroom includes a high window, consider installing your new bathroom vanity and mirror directly below it, if the space allows. This layout will ensure a beautiful stream of natural light directly in front of you while you are using the vanity and mirror, effectively eliminating any shadows being cast on your face during your morning routine
- Will you be installing a new glass shower screen that will sit in front of your bathroom window? Opt for clear glass rather than a frosted finish to ensure an unobstructed source of natural light
- Using plantation shutters (or a similar choice of window furnishing) you can also effectively control the direction of natural light, making it work best for your layout
Your next step is to combine artificial light solutions with your natural light to create the very best lighting plan in your renovation. LED lights are the best option here as they will last infinitely longer (usually providing upwards of 50,000 + hours of use) than more traditional lighting solutions while also reducing your overall power usage and greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
Some more power saving ideas to consider for your bathroom remodel include:
- Consider installing a line of LED lights beneath your medicine cabinet or below a wall mounted vanity unit that is raised up off the floor. Include a door or motion activated sensor in your bathroom remodel that will activate these sets of lights – especially handy when using the bathroom overnight and you don’t want your eyes to be attacked by a strong light! This solution helps conserve electricity, keeping both your carbon footprint and electricity bills low
- Replace an old water heater with either a tankless or solar powered unit to further help cut back on utility usage in the bathroom
- Radiant floor heating offers a great heating solution for the bathroom, assisting in keeping the space warm and dry. Consider installing heating elements directly beneath your tiles rather than embedded within the concrete slab itself; this provides a much more economical and effective solution, leading to less power usage in the long term.
Water-Wise Bathroom Fittings
Long term water conservation in the bathroom is key in creating an eco-friendly bathroom design so spending a little time to carefully consider your options is crucial. Opting for more water efficient bathroom taps and showerheads in your bathroom renovation could save you an average of $175 annually from your utility bill while also contributing to a more sustainable future.
Australia’s Water Efficency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme has been specifically designed to help narrow down your selections when it comes to choosing your new bathroom fittings. A flow restricting device or disc is fitted into every shower, sink and basin fitting that is assigned a WELS rating in Australia, that essentially restricts the flow of water, making shower time that much more efficient!
When shopping for new tapware, showerheads or basins, it is important to note each specific item’s WELS Rating: The higher the rating, the more water efficient your fittings will be.
Although a restricted flow of water may not seem as if it will deliver a luxurious shower, bathware manufacturers such as Methven have developed unique solutions that retain your bathware’s pressure while still restricting water flow, leading to significantly less water usage, while still achieving that same glorious. shower experience! Their most popular showering solutions, the Aurajet and the Airstream for example, generate individual jets of water combined with air, delivering 20% more spray force and twice the amount of coverage than a more traditional shower would at the same flow rate. By effectively combining water with air, your new showerhead’s droplets will feel much more voluminous and refreshing, while still minimising your overall use of water in the shower.
For existing bathrooms, you can still take full advantage of these exciting products from Methven; most showerhead upgrades are a simple DIY job that will typically not require a plumber. Most ‘in-wall’ shower plumbing is universal and switching out your existing showerhead will involve simply unscrewing the unit and replacing it with a new, water-wise showerhead.
Eco Friendly Tile Choices
Bathroom tiles make up the bulk of your renovation so finding a more sustainable solution here is a great way to help reduce the overall environmental impact of a household bathroom remodel.
There are several fabulous eco-friendly tile options to consider including:
- Terrazzo Tiles: Made using predominately off cuts or recycled pieces of either marble, quartz or glass that is inlaid in concrete, terrazzo tiles make use of leftover resources that would otherwise end up in landfill. As with all natural products, terrazzo tiles require regular sealing in order to maintain the surface’s integrity however, their astounding natural beauty is simply out of this world!
- Encaustic Tiles: Encaustic tiles are made of cement and rather than being fired in a kiln, consuming precious resources, these tiles are instead cured for a much more sustainable solution. As with all porous materials, concrete will require sealing and ongoing maintenance to ensure the overall longevity of the product and avoid any nasty stains
- Recycled Glass Tiles: Often fetching a slightly higher price tag than other options, recycled glass tiles are made of reclaimed glass (as the name suggests!) You will find that the price as well as the overall percentage of recycled content will vary between colours so you will want to discuss your options with your nearest tile showroom
The goal here is to ultimately consume less resources throughout the process of your bathroom remodel while also ensuring your new space will assist you in reducing utility usage over time, as well as making better use of each and every element that is included in your bathroom. By making more conscious decisions, you will enjoy a beautiful new space that will not only help you save some dough in the long run but will also leave a much lighter eco-footprint.