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Making Your Bathroom More Sustainable

By EPA

Toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of residential indoor water consumption. Toilets also happen to be a major source of wasted water due to leaks and inefficiency. Be sure to fix toilet leaks promptly to avoid wasting water.

 

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Older toilets, manufactured before 1992 when the Energy Policy Act mandated water-efficient toilets, use up to 3.5 gallons per flush. Replacing these toilets with WaterSense labeled toilets could save nearly 2 billion gallons per day across the country. Whether you're remodeling a bathroom, building a new home, or simply replacing an old, leaky toilet, a WaterSense labeled toilet is a high-performing, water-efficient option worth considering. Switching to high-efficiency toilets can save a family of four, on average, $2,000 in water bills over the lifetime of the toilets. There are a number of high-efficiency toilet options, including dual flush technology. Dual flush toilets have two flush volumes: a full flush for solids and a reduced flush for liquids only.

Composting toilets are another option for those who want to be very green. Composting toilets have been an established technology for more than 30 years, and recent advances have made them easy to use and similar in look and feel to regular toilets. As they require little to no water, composting toilet systems can provide a solution to sanitation and environmental problems in unsewered, rural, and suburban areas.

For more information on water efficient toilets for your home, visit: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pp/het.htm

Faucets and Showerheads

Faucets

 

Faucets account for more than 15 percent of indoor household water use - more than 1 trillion gallons of water across the United States each year. WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets and accessories can reduce a sink's water flow by 30 percent or more without sacrificing performance. If every household in the United States installed WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets or faucet accessories, we could save more than $350 million in water utility bills and more than 60 billion gallons of water annually (enough to meet public water demand in a city the size of Miami for more than 150 days!)

Bathroom Faucet If you are not in the market for a new faucet, consider replacing the aerator in your older faucet with a more efficient one. The aerator - the screw-on tip of the faucet - ultimately determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet. Aerators are inexpensive to replace and are an effective water-efficiency measure.

Also keep in mind that you can significantly reduce water use by simply repairing leaks in fixtures - toilets, faucets, and showerheads - or pipes.

 

Showerheads

 

Showering accounts for approximately 17 percent of residential indoor water use in the United States - more than 1.2 trillion gallons of water consumed each year. You can purchase quality, high-efficiency shower fixtures for around $10 to $20 a piece and achieve water savings of 25-60 percent. Select a high-efficiency showerhead with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) for maximum water efficiency. Before 1992, some showerheads had flow rates of 5.5 gpm, so you might want to replace older models if you're not sure of the flow rate.

For more information on water-efficient faucets, showerheads, and accessories, got to:

http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/ws_bathroom_faucets.html

http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pp/showerheads.htm

Cabinetry

Many bathroom cabinets are made from particle board, hardwood plywood paneling, or medium density fiberboard glued together using a formaldehyde-based adhesive. Formaldehyde is a common type of Volatile Organic Compound (VOC), a harmful chemical that can contribute to outdoor smog, as well as indoor air pollution. Finishes commonly used on cabinets also contain VOCs. To avoid exposure to harmful chemicals, purchase cabinetry made with formaldehyde-free adhesives and finishes.

Also, use cabinetry made from natural and sustainably harvested materials such as bamboo and certified woods (rather than tropical hardwoods). As another option, cabinets may be available through local building material reuse stores, where salvaged cabinets are routinely purchased and successfully reused. You can find local building materials reuse stores at http://www.bmra.org and http://www.habitat.org/env/restores.aspx.

Countertops

Buying recycled-content materials helps ensure that the materials collected in recycling programs will be used again in the manufacture of new products. Recycled content countertops are now widely available, and are made of attractive surfaces such as stone, glass, or other materials. For instance, countertops can be made from a material that resembles granite but consists of a biocomposite of mostly recovered newspaper and soy flour. Salvaged countertops can also be found at local building material reuse stores. You can find local building materials reuse stores at http://www.bmra.org and http://www.habitat.org/env/restores.aspx. Remember, use low-VOC sealants when installing countertops to protect the air quality in your home.

 

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Making Your Bathroom More Sustainable:  Created on June 21st, 2011.  Last Modified on June 27th, 2011

 

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About EPA

The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, the EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people. At laboratories located throughout the nation, the agency works to assess environmental conditions and to identify, understand and solve current and future environmental problems.

 

 

Information provided by The Healthy House Institute is designed to support, not to replace the relationship between patient/physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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