With 18% of household energy going towards water heating, the bathroom sure can be an energy hog. Plus, you literally flush money away in the bathroom! In this post, I’ll show you how to make your bathroom more energy efficient.
To make your bathroom more energy efficient, reduce both your water and electricity consumption. You can achieve this by changing bad habits, making inexpensive bathroom upgrades, and purchasing energy-saving products. There are also more costly renovations that will save you significant money in the long run.
There are so many ways to conserve energy in the bathroom. Some of them are so easy that with just a few quick fixes, you’ll reap the rewards of an energy-efficient bathroom.
How to Make Your Bathroom More Energy Efficient
The best part of conserving energy in the bathroom is it doesn’t need to cost a cent to see a massive return. And sometimes when we do spend on energy-conserving bathroom devices, we end up recouping the cost of the device in a short time. These tips include energy-conserving habits and devices that will help you create the most energy-efficient bathroom possible.
1. Time Your Shower
Shower takers are notorious for underestimating the amount of time they spend in the shower. With an average of 2.5 gallons of water coming out of a showerhead per minute, every extra minute counts.
If you usually shower for 10 minutes, taking a 5-minute shower instead will save you 12.5 gallons of water per shower. That’s a considerable savings for your water bill and the planet.
Consider setting a timer that will let you know when your 5 minutes are up so you can keep track of your showering habits. A simple option like the dretec waterproof timer is perfect for this task.
When considering baths vs showers, a bather will use around 25-35 gallons to fill a tub, which at the lower end is the same as a 10-minute shower. A showers is, therefore, only more efficient than a bath if it’s shorter than 10 minutes.
2. Reuse Your Bath Water
But then again, who doesn’t love to luxuriate in the bath? I certainly do! Plus, with research showing the positive health benefits of a hot bath, I’m not giving it up anytime soon. To help save water when bathing, your bath with your partner. (Read about romantic bath ideas here.)
When you’re done, reuse your bath water!
The most straightforward and cost-effective way to do this is to place a bucket in the shower to catch the water or scooping the water out of your bathtub. Just tonight after my bath, I let the water cool and then filled up several buckets to water house plants.
You can also use the greywater to flush your toilet or wash your dog.
However, there are more complex (and costly) ways to reuse your bathroom water from pumps to pipes and even separate tanks. I go into detail about how to recycle bath water, in order to water your garden or do your laundry in my post Reuse Your Bathwater: It’s a Win-Win!
3. Unplug Appliances When Not in Use
When they are left plugged in, the power that devices use is called “vampire energy.” So even when our plugged-in appliances are turned off, they still say, “I vant to suck your power.” Although they might not be consuming massive amounts of power, this process is such a waste.
To avoid wasting power in the bathroom, unplug all your electrical appliances, including hairdryers, flat irons, curling irons, electric toothbrushes and electric razors.
To save even more, consider not using styling appliances at all. Let your hair air dry; it’s healthier for your hair and the environment.
4. Proactively Find and Fix Leaks
It will probably surprise you to learn that a leaky faucet or running toilet can waste thousands of gallons of water. It may seem like such a small problem, but these seemingly minor maintenance issues are responsible for massive water wastage every year.
The EPA claims that the average household loses approximately 10 000 gallons of water annually to leaky taps.
If you know you have a leaky bathtub pipe, spout, or drain, read Is Your Bathtub Leaking? How to Find and Fix the Source. This is a comprehensive post that walks you through exactly how to remedy the problem.
However, it’s quite common to have tiny leaks that you’re completely unaware of for months or years.
The Flume Water Monitor can help you identify these leaks as soon as they spring. Install the device on the main water line of your home, and the app that comes with it will immediately alert you to any leaks in your home. Plus, the app provides a detailed real-time read of water use throughout your house.
5. Add Aerators to Your Faucets
Installing an aerator onto your existing faucets will maintain your water pressure while reducing flow, meaning you get to use less water without noticing a change. (Many newer faucets come with them already installed.)
These devices are cost-effective and easy to install as they can fit over standard taps. Aerators can save a family of four around 1700 gallons of water annually!
The aerator from Nidaye offers three different flow rates and can reduce your water output to as little as 0.5 gallons per minute. The product is also WaterSense Certified.
6. Turn Down the Water Temperature
With water heaters using so much power, it’s essential to make sure their temperature is not too high. The higher it is, the more work the heater needs to do to reach and maintain that temp and subsequently, the more power it will use.
Often manufacturers will set the water temperature to 140°, which is 20° higher than recommended. If you drop your water heater’s temperature down to 120°, you’ll save plenty of power and it is kinder to your pipes.
7. Turn Off the Spigot
Have you ever heard of a “navy shower”? It’s a method of showering that helps conserve water. It’s called a “navy shower” as it mimics the troops’ techniques to save freshwater when deployed. It’s straightforward and effective in reducing the amount of water used.
Turn on the shower to get wet
Turn off the shower and lather up
Turn the shower back on to rinse off
In this way, you only use water where absolutely necessary.
Similarly, if you are guilty of leaving the faucet running while you brush your teeth or shave, this is a bad habit you need to tap out of.
You might not realize that your bathroom faucet releases almost as much water as your shower at 2.2 gallons per minute. If you follow the rules and brush your teeth for the recommended 2 minutes, you’ve allowed 4.4 gallons of water to go down the drain.
It’s a habit that you can change with almost no impact on you other than the extra effort of turning the tap a few more times.
8. Invest in a Low-Flow Shower Head
These showerheads reduce the amount of water released, which reduces the amount of water that needs to get heated.
Low-flow showerheads can reduce your water consumption by 50%, depending on what system you are currently using. There are two types: aerated showerheads that mix oxygen into the water, creating a gentler spray, and those that are not aerated that work by pushing the water through tiny holes. Either way, you’ll save water without compromising on pressure.
The Rua showerhead uses only 1.8 gallons of water a minute, far less than your average showerhead. Its sleek design offers comprehensive spray coverage as much as double that of traditional showerheads.
The Sparkpod showerhead is another option that offers a high-pressure rainfall-type shower experience. It also uses only 1.8 gallons of water a minute, but if the savings don’t convince you, the swoon-worthy color options will. From black to gold to brass, you can design your bathroom to be as trendy as it is environmentally friendly.
9. Clean Your Extractor Fan
Extractor fans may be beneficial devices to eliminate steam and prevent bathroom mold, but they use a fair bit of power. Try and use your extractor fan sparingly.
Most fans should be able to remove the steam in a bathroom in about 15 minutes, so be sure not to leave them on any longer than this.
Another helpful hint is to make sure they remain clear of dust and grime, which impedes the movement of heat. If they are clogged up, they will need to work harder and longer to remove the steam.
While extractor fans tend to be a significant energy consumer in the bathroom, it’s good to know there are energy-conserving alternatives.
The Broan NuTone fan is ENERGY STAR approved, and this is the certification to look out for when choosing any energy-saving products.
This fan is quiet and capable of assisting in a room up to 75 square ft. You may want to consider adding a timer switch, which will automatically turn your fan off after 15 minutes.
10. Get a Tankless Water Heater
Unlike traditional home boiler systems that use a tank to store hot water, the tankless system only heats the water you will use. By not needing to heat excess water and maintain large amounts of water at a high temperature, these systems are more economical and efficient.
The systems work like a kettle, heating the cold water by running it over an element. Hot water is therefore always available on-demand without the possibility of running out. To find out more about whether a tankless system is right for you—and meet Mr. Tankless!—read this comprehensive post about the pros and cons of tankless water heaters.
Tankless water heaters are available online. You can either consider a gas one, like the Rinnai Tankless Heater, which will produce a higher flow volume or an electrical one such as Ecosmart ECO 18. Both are excellent units, so it’s merely a matter of which one best suits your requirements and home.
11. Install a Solar Powered Water Heater
Unlike traditional boilers or even tankless water heaters, solar power water heaters rely on the energy of the sun to heat up.
This means not only are you off-grid, saving you in utility bills, but you are harnessing the natural energy of the sun to produce clean energy for your home.
With water heating playing such a prominent role in home energy consumption, switching to a solar heater is one of the most effective methods for creating an eco-friendly bathroom.
12. How About a Dual Flush Toilet?
The humble toilet is one of the most guilty water thieves in the bathroom, using on average 3 gallons per flush. With the average person flushing at least five times a day, that’s a lot of water going down the pipes.
Considering many people living in arid African countries only have access to around 5.2 gallons of water a day, it seems a sacrilege to be flushing so much freshwater out to sea.
Fortunately, we can turn to high-efficiency toilets, which use velocity rather than volume to flush and are therefore able to do so using only 1.28 gallons per flush.
Most modern toilets also offer the two flush button system, which you can select based on what needs to be flushed and whether more or less water is required. Try the ultra-quiet Dual Flush Elongated Toilet by DeerValley. You can select .8 – 1.28 Gallons Per Flush or
If you have an older toilet, you can retrofit it with an alternative flush mechanism which should be inexpensive and easy to install.
There is also the option to install a fill cycle diverter to your toilet. This device works by diverting a portion of your toilet water from the bowl into the tank. The result of this is a tank that fills faster and a bowl with less water to flush away.
Placing a bottle filled with water or stones in your toilet’s tank is a DIY, cost-free way of saving water. The bottle displaces some of the water in the tank causing it to use less to flush and refill.
13. Forget the Toilet Paper! Use a Bidet
Not often used in the Western World, bidets are a sanitary way to clean yourself after a trip to the loo. They spray water over your rear end and some even offer a drying function.
You might wonder how a device using water is more eco-friendly, but when you look at the fact that it takes 37 gallons of water to produce one toilet roll and 15 million trees a year to make toilet paper for the US alone, it becomes clear why the bidet is kinder to the planet.
You can read more about how the bidet saves you money and the earth in the post Is A Bidet Worth It? Yes And Here’s Why.
14. Let LED Light The Way
Switching out your traditional incandescent bulbs for LEDs can see you using up to 80% less power to light your bathroom.
Although slightly more expensive upfront, LED bulbs last twenty times longer than traditional options, saving you money in the long game.
Adding motion sensors in your bathroom could also bring down your lighting bill as the lights will automatically turn off when the sensor does not detect any motion in the room.
15. Upgrade With Energy Efficient Windows
It may not be something you’ve ever considered, but upgrading your bathroom with ENERGY STAR windows can save you money and make your bathroom more energy efficient.
Traditional windows, especially those that are not well sealed, allow for airflow, which affects the temperature of your bathroom.
By replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR alternatives, you insulate your windows and restrict the airflow, making your indoor temperature easier to regulate. If you are putting a window near a bathtub, be sure to read this post on how to do it safely.
And if you’re remodeling, consider installing a bathroom skylight. This detailed post will give you the pros and cons, and explain why this can be a very energy-efficient decision.
16. Try Eco-Friendly Bathroom Products
To convert your bathroom to an entirely eco-friendly environment, consider all the products you place in your space.
Choose environmentally-friendly toiletries, bamboo toothbrushes and clean cosmetics. Find out all about the benefits of bamboo towels for you and the environment and the best eco-friendly bath mats here.
So can you make your bathroom more energy efficient?
By reimagining your bathroom to be an energy-efficient space, you can have it all; a bathroom that is easy on the wallet and kind to the earth. When you change your bathroom habits and fixtures to conserve energy, you’ll know you’re doing your part to preserve our precious planet.