A big trend in bathroom renovations for 2015 is energy efficiency. If you’re looking at a near-future bathroom renovation, you should consider creating a “green” bathroom, meaning energy-efficient and water-efficient appliances. The benefits to you include knowing your bathroom is better for the environment, as well as the savings on your utility bill each month! Let’s get started.
Walls & Ceiling
If you planning on removing drywall or making any structural changes during the renovation, then now is your chance to improve or upgrade the insulation around your bathroom.
Assuming your original plaster or drywall is in good condition, you can simply blow extra insulation into the empty walls. However, if the drywall or plaster is damaged, you can apply new, rigid insulation, framing and drywall directly over the old finish, if space allows.
If you are removing the drywall, you may want to install more efficient drywall with a vapor diffusion retarder and continuous air barrier, such as a polyethylene sheet used on its own or combined with drywall, vapor-barrier paint and caulking. Upgrading your insulation alone can improve the insulation levels up to 40%.
For extra energy savings, consider closed-cell spray foam insulation, which can create an air-tight seal around any opening or crevice in your walls. Also consider getting ENERGY STAR model windows which have low emission coatings on the glass and argon gas with insulated spacers between the panes.
Plumbing & Appliances
To save water and get big savings on your energy bill, choose dual-flush or ultra-low flush toilets. There’s low-flow faucets and showerheads, which are both water efficient and high-performance. Check for the WaterSense label when buying.
To make future renovations easier, add shut-off valves and insulate both the cold and hot water pipes to reduce condensation, save energy and prevent mold. Adding a drain water heat recovery unit to your shower will also add more energy saving bonuses.
Everything in Between
Almost every aspect of your bathroom can be optimized for better energy consumption and efficiency:
- Flooring – if an underlay is used, water-resistant materials such as cement board or other proprietary sub-floor products can be more durable for high-moisture areas.
- Paint, Finishes and Sealant – choose paint, cement, caulking, finishes and sealants that are low-odour and low in pollutant emissions. This includes low-volatile organic compound (VOC) paints and water-based urethane coatings for wood
- Ventilation – Choose an exhaust fan that has a low noise rating (around two sones). Low-sone fans tend to be more energy-efficient as well.
Know What You’re Buying
Homeowners need to beware of products that claim to be “green”, however these companies should have independent test results to back up their claims. Rely on testing from certification programs like Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide, the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR, and the Canadian Standards association.
These online resources can help you shop smart when buying green:
- GreenSpec™ Product Guide (http://www.buildinggreen.com/menus/)
- GREENGUARD™ Environmental Institute (http://www.greenguard.org/en/QuickSearch.aspx)
- EcoLogo (http://www.ecologo.org/en/index.asp)
- Green Seal (http://www.greenseal.org/)
- WaterSense (http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/)
When doing your next bathroom renovation, ask Western Bathrooms about Green options for any of our bathroom renovation packages!