Believe it or not, improving your home’s energy efficiency doesn’t require an advanced energy science degree. It’s really just a matter of being more aware of choices and recognizing whether they save or waste energy. Individually, some energy-wasting practices might not amount to much, but when you add them all together, you’ll gain a better picture of how how much you could save. To help you live Live Brighter, our “Energy Efficiency ‘Round the Home” series will showcase ways you can lower your home energy usage and possible reduce your monthly energy bill.
How Can I Improve the Energy Efficiency of My Bathroom?
We all like our bathrooms to be comfortable, soothing spaces that help us prepare for the day (or relax after a long day). But keeping your bathroom comfortable can require a surprising amount of energy. But not surprisingly, most of that energy use relates to how we use water, which can consume nearly 20% of a home’s total energy demand.
One of the easiest ways to reduce energy usage is to prevent wasting water. While that may sound like a draining experience, it’s easier than you think. Let’s get started.
Take Care of Your Water Heater
If your home has a traditional tank-style water heater, then the water heater is using energy ’round the clock to keep the water hot when you’re ready to use it. While that sounds convenient, it means the tank is keeping 40 gallons of water hot even when you’re at work or asleep. You can save energy with this tank heater by adding extra insulation such as a hot water heater jacket and insulate hot water pipes with foam pipe insulation. Not only will you reduce your energy usage, but you also won’t waste water waiting for it to warm up for your shower.
Fix Leaky Faucets and Toilet Flapper Valves
Hot water dribbling from a leaky valve means your heater has to heat more water. If you use a water softener, filtration system, or get your water from a well, then you are paying to treat water that you aren’t using and letting it all go down the drain. Repairing leaks sooner than later means one less thing you have to pay for.
Install a Low-Flow Shower Head
These magical devices reduce the amount of hot water you use, thereby lowering your energy usage. If your current shower head can fill a one-gallon bucket in under 20 seconds, a low-flow shower head could reduce both your water and energy usage. Energy.gov recommends a shower head rated at 1.6 gallons per minute.
Be a Fan of the Bathroom Exhaust Fan
Blow the steamy air out of your home when you’re taking a shower and let it run for ten to 15 minutes afterwards. This vents excess humidity outside of your home which can cut your AC bill and reduce the chance for mold and mildew to form.
In winter time, place a small six-inch fan near the doorway of your bathroom to blow dry air from your home into your bathroom. This will circulate the steam and moisture into the rest of your home, improving your comfort and helping to keep your bathroom dry.
Enhance Your Vanity
Make smart lighting choices by using LEDs to light your bathroom vanity. Compared to CFLs and incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs use the least amount of energy. LED bulbs are also rated in terms of their color temperature on the Kelvin scale. Different experts advise using different color temperature bulbs; some say 3,200 °K (yellow/amber indoor color) and others advise 6,000°K (blue-white outdoor daylight). The key is to choose a bulb that has a Color Rendering Index (CRI) rated between 90 and 100. The higher the CRI rating, the more accurately the bulb illuminates a broad spectrum of colors.
Also remember to unplug those chargers for shavers and other personal grooming devices when they’re not in use. It might not seem like a lot of electricity now, but it does add up over time.
Is your garage driving your energy bill higher? In the next installment of “Energy Efficiency ‘Round the Home,” we’ll help put on the brakes and park those runaway expenses!