Elements of a Green Bathroom
While kitchens use the most energy in a typical home, bathrooms use the most water. According to the U.S. EPA, a family of four could save more than 16,000 gallons of water per year simply by replacing a traditional toilet with a high-efficiency toilet.
"A lot of what makes a bathroom green has to do with water savings," says Sean Ruck, spokesperson for the National Kitchen & Bath Association. "And consumers can easily incorporate a lot of items that don't look or perform any differently than traditional materials, for about the same price."
Since 1994, federal standards have required toilets, showerheads and faucets to use less water, so if you replace pre-1994 fixtures with new ones, you'll save water right from the start. Low-flow toilets got a well-deserved bad rap for poor performance when those standards first came out, but newer models have largely fixed the problems.
If you're still worried about getting a lemon, research your options at the Saving Water Partnership's list of FlushStar toilets (those that meet certain performance criteria) at www.savingwater.org.
"Dual flush toilets are another new product that is gaining popularity," says Ruck. These toilets feature a dual flushing valve, where users push one button to release about half a gallon of water. Pushing the second button releases a flush with more force and anywhere from 1.2 to 1.6 gallons of water. "Combined with low-flow showerheads and faucets, you'll notice dramatic water savings," says Ruck.