July 15, 2015
What’s the state of your bathroom? Has it been recently renovated, or is it still stuck in the ‘80s? While a retro vibe can be fun, if basic elements like your faucets, showerhead and lighting have seen you through more than one decade, they could be costing you a lot in wasted energy and water.
Water used in the bathroom accounts for around half of indoor water consumption in U.S. homes. Much of that is hot water, which means energy has gone into heating it up. That’s a lot of water and energy—but also a lot of potential savings.
Managing Your Water Use
We’ve all heard that turning the tap off while brushing our teeth saves water (and that’s true, as much as 3,000 gallons per year according to the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]), but there are more ways you can manage water consumption, such as using WaterSense® labeled accessories. Much like the ENERGY STAR® program tests and certifies energy-efficient products, the WaterSense program tests and labels water-efficient products. All products with the WaterSense label are independently certified to ensure they meet EPA criteria for performance and water efficiency.
According to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, water heating is the third-largest energy expense in a typical U.S. home. You can save both water and energy with efficient faucets and showerheads.
Faucets: Typical bathroom sink faucets have a flowrate of 2.2 gallons per minute (gpm). Using a WaterSense labeled accessory that regulates the flowrate to 1.5 gpm, the average U.S. household can save hundreds of gallons of water per year. You can purchase faucet accessories separately from bathroom sink faucets and easily swap them out. Aerators, the most common type, add air to the water stream to increase the sensation of flow while regulating flowrate. An aerator screws on to the tip of the faucet and can cost as little as a few dollars, making it a quick and inexpensive upgrade.
According to industry experts, reducing a faucet's maximum flowrate from 2.2 gpm to 1.5 gpm isn’t noticeable for most users in most situations, but the savings add up. If every home in the United States replaced existing faucets and aerators with WaterSense labeled models, the EPA estimates that we could save nearly $1.2 billion in water and energy costs and 64 billion gallons of water across the country annually.
Showerheads: The average U.S. family uses nearly 40 gallons of water per day for showering. Before 1992, some showerheads had flowrates as high as 5.5 gpm. New standard showerheads use just 2.5 gpm! If you have an old showerhead, you can save big just by upgrading to a newer one. Save even more energy and money by choosing a showerhead that’s earned the WaterSense label, which will have a max flowrate of 2.0 gpm or less.
Other shower fixtures can help you save water and energy without impacting flowrate. If you’re like many Americans who like to use the time while the shower is warming up to do something else, using a showerhead or showerhead adapter with a thermostatic shut-off valve (TSV) can save gallons of water with each shower. Showerheads and showerhead adaptors with TSVs reduce the amount of hot water that runs down the drain between when you turn the water on and when you get in the shower. The temperature-triggered valve senses when the water is heated up and slows the flow to a trickle until you are ready to get in. When you’re ready for your shower, simply pull a cord attached to the valve to resume normal water flow.
Mass Save offers discounts on showerheads and showerhead adaptors with this technology.
Don’t Forget the Lights!
You need high-quality lighting in a bathroom for detailed tasks like shaving and putting on makeup, but there’s no need to sacrifice quality for efficiency: ENERGY STAR certified lighting is 70 to 90 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent lighting, with the same functionality. ENERGY STAR certified LEDs continue to decline in price and are more widely available now than ever before—even specialty bulbs, such as the globe bulbs commonly used in bathrooms. By replacing six 40 watt incandescent bulbs with six ENERGY STAR certified 9 watt LED bulbs that have the same brightness, you can save up to $50 a year on energy costs!
Mass Save offers discounts on ENERGY STAR certified lighting. Find discounts online or at many Massachusetts stores.
There are many more upgrades you can make to your bathroom to save water, energy and money, but they might be bigger projects. If you’re ready to take them on, or if you’re already thinking of renovating your bathroom, you can find great information about designing a bathroom that will bring you savings here.