5 Eco-Friendly Bathroom Updates That Save Energy and Money

Sustainable swaps in the bathroom can spare your savings and protect the environment.

An easy way to live more sustainably is to find ways of making our homes more eco-friendly. One room where significant improvements can be made is the bathroom, where we often use excessive amounts of water and energy. Fortunately, these days there are several cost-effective modern technologies to update your bathroom to reduce energy and water waste. From low-flow faucets to energy-efficient lighting, the options are endless, based on your budget and the size of your space. Bathroom experts offer five eco-friendly bathroom solution that you can make right now to reduce your environmental footprint and save on utility bills.

1. Smart Showerheads

One of the easiest swaps homeowners can make in a bathroom is to replace an existing showerhead with an eco-friendly model, says Jennifer Robinson, senior manager at Kohler. “Water-conserving showerheads not only benefit the environment but can significantly lower your water and energy costs each month,” she says. Robinson advises homeowners to look for EPA WaterSense-certified showerheads to know that their product will conserve more water than standard models.

Sustainability is easy to achieve from the basement to the attic by switching to smart home technology in every room. Smart home apps are a great way to track your home’s environmental impact in water and energy usage. Brands now have smart water shower and faucet features that connect through an app, which can be controlled remotely. Using tech to pause the water flow or prevent unnecessary water waste can save a great deal of money, as well as catch leaks early. 

bathroom vanity with 4 drawers in light wood
David A Land

2. Plastic-Free Accessories 

When it comes to bathroom accessories, there are many options for reducing waste and plastic alternatives. Small items like bamboo toothbrushes or reusable cotton pads reduce the amount of plastic in landfills and oceans.  

“Shower curtains that contain PVC are full of chemicals that release into the air and have not only negative environmental impact, but human health implications too,” says Danielle DeBoe Harper, senior creative style manager at Moen. Instead, she suggests a plastic-free PEVA (Poly-ethylene-co-vinyl acetate) liner. “Alternatively, try an organic linen or cotton shower curtain alone,” she advises. 

3. Sustainable Countertop Materials

When it comes to making sustainable swaps in the bathroom, counter surfaces can make a big impact. DeBoe Harper recommends avoiding laminate countertops in bathrooms and kitchens. “Laminate countertops contain formaldehyde, which reduces the air quality and are not ideal because of the energy and greenhouse gases in their production,” she explains. If you’re in the market for a change, try recycled glass, bamboo, or stone surfaces that hold up well with moisture exposure and changes in temperature.

4. Smart Outlets

Most bathrooms should have GFCI outlets (grounded fault circuit interrupters) to make sure that the electricity turns off when water or moisture gets into the socket. This safety measure is a must-have for outlets near the sink or shower, but few people ever think to upgrade even further to smart outlets, which let you monitor energy usage. “Buyers should make sure they are aware of ‘standby power’ or ‘vampire power’ when selecting new appliances, electronics, etc. This refers to the power that a product consumes when it is not even in use. To stay ready to switch on, the products in our homes are typically pulling a low level of power at all times. This can mean a lot of energy waste when leaving ‘off’ items plugged in,” explains Desiree Webster, product manager at Legrand.

To remedy this, look for appliances that use less energy when in standby mode. “Also, using smart outlets with these items allows users to cut power and eliminate consumption by-products that are not in use,” she adds. Smart controls and dimmer settings can help you schedule turning off the lights, so it’ll happen—even when you forget. These new technologies help reduce energy consumption without much hassle.

5. Sustainable Flooring

If you’re in the market for new bathroom floors, go with durable and sustainable options. Richard Fung, co-founder of Forever Young Homebuilders, suggests terrazzo as an environmentally beneficial floor solution. “Terrazzo is produced from leftover fragments of other tile materials like marble and glass, and it is both durable and fashionable. Strong statement pieces to more muted ones can be found in terrazzo tile designs and color combinations,” he says. If you are worried about cold tiles under damp feet, he advises including radiant heat technology for energy-efficient underfloor heating to warm terrazzo tiles even in the coldest of seasons. 

If you’d prefer wood over tile, try bamboo flooring in half baths without a shower or tub. If you can keep the humidity low with proper ventilation and keep the floors dry, it is a perfect touch of texture. Bamboo is even more durable than hardwood, so it’s a long-lasting choice for any high-frequency space.

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