Eco-friendly Bathrooms Buying Guide

Where to start

Saving water is fundamental to an eco-friendly bathroom. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the highest household water consumption comes from the bathroom, with showers and baths accounting for 34% of usage and toilet flushing 22%*.

There are all kinds of ways we can help ourselves from simply turning off the tap when we clean our teeth, to fitting a dual-flush toilet. Often saving water means saving energy too, something good for both our pockets and the environment.


The Options


Baths

Choosing a bath with a lower capacity will help save water if you can’t resist filling the entire tub. A bath with smaller dimensions, like our 170L Hawksmoor Straight Bath, is usually a good rule of thumb for a simple bathing solution that uses less water. Standard length baths with lower sides often have a low capacity too, such as the 180L Edwardian Freestanding bath 1700mm x 750mm. A good middle ground is the 170L Curve Ended and Square Ended 1600mm x 700mm shower bath. Plus, when used as a shower with a bath mixer tap and shower handset, it will be easier to control the water flow and temperature.

If you have your heart set on a particular bath style, then simply fill the tub with less water! The Energy Saving Trust says running a bath an inch lower than usual can save around 5L of water.

Top Tips

Keep an eye out when you run the bath so you don’t overfill and waste water into the overflow plug

Get young children to share bath water

Re-use your bath water for flushing toilets or watering the garden (see ‘Grey Water’)


Showers

Recent research from the Energy Saving Trust* reports 50% of those surveyed spend 5-10 minutes in the shower – but of course you may be one of those who dashes in and out or loves to linger. You may be surprised to know a shower uses around 9-15L of water per minute so litres can soon disappear down the drain.

How long you spend in the shower, how often you shower and the shower’s flow rate will determine how much water you use – and possibly waste. Flow rates will be in relation to the valves you choose.

The flow rate will be in relation to the pressure you have in the property, the higher the pressure the higher the flow rate. The flow rate figures given on the valves are guidelines only, the minimum pressure these valves will work to their full potential will be 1 bar with a max of 6 bar. 

All of the valves we supply will have the same specs relating to the flow. All of our showers operate with low and high water pressure systems ranging between 0.14 to 2.0 bars (see ‘Water Pressure’).

Efficient showering can also help reduce your energy bills because you won’t need to heat the water for as long. Electric showers, like those in the Triton range, are a good economical choice because they only heat the water used. A small shower head tends to use less water than a larger design with bigger holes. Take a look at the 60mm diameter Stirling Mini Round Ceiling Fixed Head for and environmental friendly solution.

Top Tips

Turn off the shower while you’re lathering-up or fit a shut-off valve to pause the water

Stick a waterproof timer onto the shower wall to limit your showers to three-five minutes

Fit a water filter to remove chemicals for softer skin and hair

Free water-saving gadgets may be available through your water provider, see www.savewatersavemoney.co.uk  

The water pressure in your home needs to be compatible with your chosen taps, shower and bath mixers. Water pressure is measured in bars with high pressure being 1.0 bar and above, and low pressure less than 1.0 bar. The water pressure relates to the type of water system you have. An indirect gravity-fed system is a low pressure system. The cold water storage tank is stored in the loft above the hot water cylinder. The height of the tank determines the water pressure with every one metre drop working out to be around 0.1 bar. Switching to a direct system, where a combination boiler or unvented cylinder tank heats water directly from the mains, delivers mains water pressure, which is usually suitable for most showers and taps. If in doubt, a plumber can check using a pressure gauge.


Toilets

Flushing toilets accounts for 22% of water* used in the home, where we use more water than running the dishwasher or washing machine.

An old toilet with a large cistern can use an astonishing 7.5L to 13L of water per flush. Switch to a dual-flush toilet with a split flush button so you can choose between a half flush or full flush. They’re a fantastic water-saver if used properly. Simply ditching a seven-litre flush toilet in favour of a 4L/2.5L dual flush can save around 80L a day of water, according to Waterwise. Our Cubitt Designer and Aalto Signature Compact Close Coupled toilet have a 4.2/2.8L flush – the water savings could soon add up.

Top Tips

Save on flushes by throwing anything that isn’t toilet paper into the bin


Taps

Running taps at home accounts for 31% of our total water use*. A tap releases around 6L of water every minute so you could save 12-18L if you turn the tap off when you clean your teeth, wash your face and shave. Sticking to cold water will also save on energy.

Top Tip

Fill a cup to rinse your teeth after brushing

Make sure the tap is turned off properly

Fix leaky taps – a dripping tap can waste more than 5,500L of water a year, says Waterwise


Heated Towel Rails

A dual-fuel heated towel rail can run on electricity so you don’t waste energy by turning the central heating on just to dry towels – an energy saver in the warmer months. You need central heating pipes running into the rail and a dual electric element connected into a fused spur. Any of our heated towel rails can be fitted with a dual electric element. This will definitely be the best way to go, purely to have the option to switch on in the summer to heat your towels without having the central heating on. Radiators under 1600 BTU are most suitable for electric use.

Top Tips

Make sure the BTU (British Thermal Unit) heat output isn’t too high for the bathroom size otherwise you’ll be wasting valuable energy. Work out the calculation here: http://www.diydoctor.org.uk/calculators/btu-calculator.htm


What Else?

Use sustainable materials for flooring, furniture and accessories such as rubber, linoleum, recycled glass and bamboo. Wood should be from a sustainable source, noted by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo that confirms the wood or wood fibres are reclaimed or from FSC-certified forests.

Paint walls with VOC-free eco-friendly paints, such as Earthborn Paints (www.earthbornpaints.co.uk) and Nutshell Paints (nutshellpaints.co.uk). Switch bathroom lights to LEDs, which use less energy than conventional bulbs and last much longer. Make sure lights inside a shower and above a bath are rated Zone 1, and Zone 2 for above a shower and around a basin.

For the finishing touches, The Ethical Superstore (www.ethicalsuperstore.com) stocks a range of eco-friendly toilet paper, soaps, shampoo and cleaning products, which are all free of chemicals. Or you can make your own using the natural ingredients suggested here: http://www.makingyourown.co.uk/make-your-own-natural-home-cleaning-products.html


Shower or Bath - Less or More Water?

Did you know if you spend six minutes in a power shower that pumps out 15L of water per minute then you’ll use more water than the average 80L bath? But working out whether showering or bathing is the most energy efficient doesn’t stop there. Your home’s water pressure determines how fast the water flows as will the type of shower you buy. Be realistic about how often and how long you spend in the shower versus the number of baths you have each week and how high you fill the tub – then you’ll have your answer.

Greywater is the waste water from basins, showers and baths. The water can be recycled and used to flush toilets, water the garden or wash the car. There are different ways to treat greywater. A simple solution is to fill a bucket with dirty bath water and take it outside to water the garden. Fit a valve to an external waste pipe to feed directly into a water butt below. A greywater pump directs greywater to a tank to be treated and then pumps the water back to fill the toilet cisterns. For more information see: www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/grey-and-black-water-recycling-design.html


Summary

A lower capacity bath reduces the temptation to fill to the top

Take an inch off your usual bath water level

Save water by replacing one bath a week with a five-minute shower

An electric shower saves water and energy

Switch to a dual-flush toilet

Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth

Go green with bathroom accessories, toiletries and cleaning products

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