Tips For Saving Energy In The Bathroom
Energy costs soar in the winter, and with the struggle to keep our homes warm, our pocketbooks tends to get hit pretty hard. Bathrooms absorb a lot of that expensive energy since we use them early in the morning and late at night, usually when it's the coldest. When it's cold out, our furnaces work extra hard to keep the house warm, so it's important to curb excess energy use when possible. Here are a few tips to save energy in the bathroom.
Cold air can seep into your home in even the smallest cracks and crevices. And when cold air gets in, that hot air you pay for gets out. The cold air can come in through cracks around windows, which can be remedied by installing storm windows or by caulking around the edges. Plastic film is also an inexpensive defense against drafts. However, windows aren't the only source for leaks. Cold air can get in through gaps around pipes that can be sealed with caulking. Hot air can escape around the tub as well; it's a little more difficult to repair, but it is possible to fix it yourself.
Like hot air, hot water comes at a price, too. Regular showerheads can use up to 40 gallons of water in a 10-minute shower -- about twice the amount water efficient showerheads use. Water efficient showerheads are fairly easy to install yourself, but taking baths can help you save water as well. Though conventional wisdom suggests showers use less water, you can get around that if you're vigilant. A standard tub holds about 50 gallons of water, but you don't have to fill it up. If you're really keen on saving water, plug your tub before you turn on the water so you can catch that cold water that usually goes down the drain when you're waiting for your shower to warm up.
According to the Department of Energy, you can save 5-15% on your annual heating bill by turning down your heat 10°, but taking showers or baths in low heat can be very uncomfortable. However, a space heater can warm your bathroom efficiently without having to heat up your entire house. Space heaters are designed to heat small areas very quickly; for bathrooms, make sure to look for one that is moisture resistant.
Hot water heaters are big pieces of equipment that are typically installed in a corner of the home that's unheated like the basement or cellar. That means the water heater works harder than it has to in order to warm water for baths and showers. Most new hot water heaters come insulated to save energy, but if you have an older model, you can save a few bucks on your gas bill by wrapping it in an insulating blanket.
A drop in the sink doesn't seem like a waste of water, but if a faucet drips once every 30 seconds, it can add up to nine gallons of water every month; and that's just a faucet. Your toilet and showerheads can leak as well, which you can check and fix yourself to save water and money.