Ways to make your bathroom greener

How much time do we spend in the bathroom each day? The mornings are probably the most busy bathroom times in any house, followed closely by right before bed. But do you know the burden your bathroom can put on your house’s overall carbon footprint?

By Diane Kuehl

Most people probably don’t think about it, but the fact of the matter is that the bathroom is an incredibly wasteful place. Between lighting and water usage by the various plumbing fixtures, we’re wasting with every second we’re in the bathroom.
Here are a few ways you can help to “greenify” the bathrooms in your home – you’ll thank me later.


Lighting is one of the easiest ways to help reduce your carbon footprint. In fact, it’s one of those that is probably already done in other areas of your home if you are green-inclined.

LED and CFL bulbs (see link for a lot more information on LED and CFL bulbs) can actually reduce your energy output 5 to 10 times, if you change from your traditional light bulb. And with how much time you spend with the lights on in the bathroom, this is definitely going to help you go a little bit more green. But don’t forget – this is a great option for the whole house, as well.

There are no extra steps in installing LED or CFL light bulbs, so it’s an easy switch. Just be sure to turn off the lights before installing.


Faucets may not seem like a huge burden to your water bill or your carbon footprint, but look at it like this: faucets use about 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Now, think about how much you use a faucet in your home each day. Now multiply that by the number of people living in your house.

It adds up, doesn’t it?

There are high-efficiency faucets that use 1.5 gallons of water per minute, which will help reduce the toll on your hot water heater. (By the way, did you know that hot water heaters are the single biggest part of our home’s carbon footprint?)
You can also invest in a water-saving aerator, flow restrictor, or some type of water filtration unit to help reduce the amount of water your use with each turn of the faucet.


Showers account for about 20 percent of the total water used in our homes each day. This number can go up depending on how often your shower, for how long, and what type of showerhead you use.

But let’s be honest – you probably haven’t thought about water consumption now that you’ve got that massive showerhead that massages as it cleans, have you?
Here’s a thought: The typical shower uses about 2.5 gallons of water per minute. If you take a 30 minute shower, like me, then you are using 75 gallons of water per shower. Now, imagine that you’ve got four other people taking 30 minute showers in your house. That’s 375 gallons of water per day in shower use. For those keeping score at home, that’s a lot of water.

Ultra-low-flow showerheads use less than two gallons of water per minute, which will effectively cut 70 percent of your water usage for a single day.


How often do you flush the toilet? Hopefully often enough… Toilets account for about 30 percent of the water usage in our homes, which means it is quite the water hog – the biggest one in our homes.

Each flush can use up to six gallons of water. So, let’s assume you flush about 25 times per day. That’s 150 gallons of water per day.

But, with high-efficiency toilets and other eco-friendly toilets becoming more and more popular, you’ve got plenty of options.

Dual Flush Toilets: Dual flush toilets operate around the premise that it takes a lot less water to flush liquid waste (no. 1, as my kids say). So, these toilets give you the option of flushing for either liquid or solid waste. This can reduce your water usage by half with each flush.

Composting Toilet: If you like outhouses, you’ll love composting toilets. These toilets (typically) don’t use any water and store the waste in a tank. Don’t worry, though. The waste is mixed with vegetable matter, sawdust, coconut coir, and peat moss to help with processing and that putrid waste smell. Some models even have a vent.

High-efficiency Toilets: These toilets are the ones labeled WaterSense at your local home improvement store. They use 1.3 gallons of water per flush. The EPA also says that it helps save about 4,000 gallons of water per home per year. That’s a lot.
Because green technology has caught up with today’s current style trends, it’s easy to find fixtures that fit your particular bathroom décor. So don’t worry, you can be stylish and green all at the same time.

So go do it. Your home (and your wallet and the environment) depends on it.

Diane Kuehl is a home improvement professional and owner of DIY Mother. She lives in Springfield, Illinois with her husband and two kids.


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