For such a little room, we sure do expend a lot of energy in the bathroom! From taking showers to brushing our teeth to preparing for the day, there are numerous ways we can save energy.
- Add a low-flow showerhead. These are inexpensive and easy-to-install energy savers. Federal law requires new showerheads to not allow more than 2.5 gallons of water to flow per minute (which is significantly less than pre-1992 showerheads of 5.5 gallons per minute!) but you can easily find showerheads that use between 1 and 2 gallons per minute.
- Add an aerator on the faucet. This screw-in device can restrict water flow to as low as 0.5 gallons per minute, though as low as 1 gallon per minute will significantly decrease your water use.
- Take shorter showers. Time yourself, and try to shave off a minute – or a few – to save hot water. Set a timer if you need to. This works particularly well with children. Another option is to get a showerhead that allows you to flick off the flow while you lather or shave – then you won't be wasting water while performing a time-consuming task.
- Don't run the water while shaving or brushing teeth. This is Energy Conservation 101 but people get distracted in the morning and can forget this simple step.
- Don't run the water while washing your hands. Teach your kids this sequence: Quickly get hands wet, turn off the water, apply soap, sing Happy Birthday while washing to ensure you're getting rid of germs and dirt, then turn the water on to rinse.
- Take a shower rather than a bath. Though it depends on the size of your tub and the length of your shower, in many cases, taking a shower uses less water than taking a bath. In either case, do your best to reduce your shower time or the amount of water you use for a bath.
- Install a new toilet. Toilets manufactured before 1995 use about 5 gallons of water per flush; newer ones use a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush. High-efficiency or dual-flush models can reduce the water usage even more.
- Install a hot water recirculating pump. If it takes a while for the water to warm up so you can shower, consider installing one of these devices. It can be put on a timer to keep your hot water circulating around the house during the hours you normally shower. A tankless water heater can also deliver instant hot water, but it is much more expensive to install. If neither of these is an option, try collecting some of the water that is otherwise wasted and use it to water plants.
- Fix a leaky pipe, faucet or toilet. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that a leak at the rate of 1 drip per second can cost you $1 a month.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs. Switching just one incandescent bulb to a CFL can save you about $10 a year – and many bathroom fixtures require multiple bulbs. Just keep in mind a few points to get the most out of your new bulbs. CFLs don't like dampness, so be sure to run the exhaust fan while you are showering and keep it on for 15 minutes afterward. Also, CFLs come in different colors. The 2,500K to 3,000K range best simulates the warm incandescent light we are used to. Also, if your bathroom light fixture is enclosed instead of open, make sure you get a CFL made for an enclosed space since built-up heat can reduce the bulb's lifespan.
- Replace the ventilation fan. Make sure the new one is the right size for your bathroom and make sure it is ENERGY STAR qualified for maximum efficiency.
- Don't keep rechargeable appliances plugged in all the time. Your electric toothbrush and razor are two examples – just plug them in when their power runs low and unplug them when they are fully charged.
- Reduce your use of hair appliances. Do you really need to straighten your hair every day? Try letting your hair air dry on warm days or on weekends when you have more time.