Most water is wasted on a daily basis in the bathroom. From taking long showers and allowing the faucet to run to ignoring leaky toilets, there are many bathroom habits that are easily changed in order to both conserve water and save money.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the standard showerhead spouts water at a rate of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm). That means, a shower lasting around 20 minutes uses about 50 gallons of water. While you can reduce your shower time to save water, you can also switch to a water-efficient showerhead to save the most money. To earn the WaterSense label, manufacturers must demonstrate that the shower head uses no more than 2 gpm. If cutting back on shower times and a new showerhead hasn’t helped, you may want to check for leaks. According to the EPA, a showerhead that leaks 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons of water per year, totaling the same amount of water that it takes to wash 60 loads of dishes in the dishwasher.
Based on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Drip Calculator, a home with three leaky faucets, dripping a single drip per minute, wastes close to 4,320 drips per day. This amounts to 104 gallons per year. So check for leaks and replace worn gaskets and rubber washers that become hard or brittle over time. Another way to save involves replacing old faucets with those touting the WaterSense label. WaterSense labeled bathroom faucets or faucet accessories are high-performing water-efficient fixtures that help save money, energy and water. Have a leak? Try the Drip Calculator | View Calculator >
Found in many stores, faucet aerators are screw-in attachments with wire screens that combine air into the water flow. These devices can be used in your kitchen or bathroom to reduce water usage as well as energy or gas costs used to heat water. Aerators vary by flow, limiting water flow anywhere from 1.5 gpm to 2.2 gpm. Per the EPA’s site on Bathroom Sink Faucets & Accessories, sink faucets and accessories that use a maximum of 1.5 gpm can reduce a sink’s water usage by 30 percent or more compared to those that flow at 2.2 gallons per minute. Keep aerators free of clogs by unscrewing and brushing off mineral buildup, silt or debris regularly with an old toothbrush.
One simple way to keep your toilet in top shape is to avoid flushing trash. Not only does this waste water, it sends solid waste to the wastewater treatment plant and can possibly damage your pipes and home. Instead, dispose of tissues, ear cotton swabs, hair and other trash in the waste container. If you don’t have a waste container in the bathroom, consider adding one as well as a small recycling bin. To save water, you can also try a dual-flush toilet. Dual-flush toilets allow you to choose the flushing method with a low-flow option for liquid waste and a normal-flow option for solid. If you suspect a leak is the culprit to high water usage, add food coloring (approximately 10 drops) to the toilet tank and wait about 10 minutes. If there’s color in the toilet bowl, it’s time to get that leak fixed.
It’s common to find odor-masking or -neutralizing items in a bathroom in the form of aerosols, deodorizing plug-ins, toilet scented drops and candles. Synthetic fragrances can reduce the home’s air quality, which is ultimately inhaled by all occupants of the home. While these items may mask odors, the main ingredients involve petro-chemicals, perfumes, synthetic scents, dyes and phthalates, which can cause a range of problems from allergic reactions to chemical sensitivity. Try instead natural air fresheners that are fragrance-free and made from naturally derived ingredients. There are many recipes online for odor neutralizers that use natural ingredients and spray bottles that can be reused and recycled.
Never dispose of pharmaceutical waste down the drain or the toilet. Flushing pharmaceuticals adds to the pollution of streams and aquifers from which drinking water is derived. You also shouldn’t dispose of medications in the trash, especially sharps. Pharmaceutical waste can possibility harm workers who deal with the collection and disposal of solid waste. Look to your city for pharmaceutical collection events or for information on where to dispose of expired or unwanted medications.
Most of us forget to recycle in the bathroom. But items that are in plastic bottles, such as shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, body wash and bubble bath, can be recycled once emptied. Aerosol cans, such as deodorizers, shaving creams and hair products, can also be recycled after use. Soap packaging, empty cotton swab containers and personal care boxes are recyclable, and plastic bags that held items such as cotton balls can be reused to collect trash when cleaning.
Many of us have ventilation fans in the bathroom to get rid of odors or humidity. Energy Star-certified fans are more efficient, create less noise, have high-performing motors, feature an improved blade design and are better performing with a longer life. When selecting a fan, look for the cubic feet per minute (CFM) output. A fan that works for your bathroom should have a CFM rating that is high enough to replace the air in your bathroom about eight times per hour.