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What is a sustainable bathroom?

A more sustainable bathroom also helps lower household running costs by reducing your power bills.

As more Aussies make their homes sustainable there’s an increasing array of energy-efficient products to help get your bathroom eco-friendly.

Sustainable bathroom projects are popular starting points for home builds, renovations and updates given the big impact bathrooms have on our Earth and oceans.

As well as being good for the planet, a more sustainable bathroom also helps lower household running costs by reducing your power bills. Indeed, just by using more water-efficient products in the bathroom Aussies could save $2 billion by the end of the decade.

Let's check out the basics.

Sustainable bathroom basics 

What you need to do to get your home sustainable depends on the nature of your project. 

For home builders, it all starts with the planning phase as sustainable building often involves using resources that some conventional tradespeople may be unfamiliar with.

So, when researching and talking to builders or tradespeople ask them about their experience using sustainable materials and trade practices to make sure they have knowledge and experience of the field.

Bathroom design is also important, such as orientation and inclusion of features like skylights - providing an opportunity to use natural light instead of artificial light. On lighting, using LED lights instead of Halogen globes is an easy sustainability win.

There’s also materials in the build to consider. Options like precast concrete, cement made from recycled plastic, reclaimed wood and recycled metal are increasingly popular.

Another sustainability basic is to upcycle. Especially when renovating, don’t just chuck out all the materials from the old bathroom because this will mean they’ll end up in landfill. Instead, think of new uses for them. You might be able to incorporate bathtubs, sinks, tiles, cabinets or fixtures in the new space with some creative thinking.

Eco-bathroom must-haves 

Materials: key bathroom features, like a ceramic bath and basin, can be subbed out for eco-friendly materials such as crushed marble, concrete or mineral stone.

Water saving: You can improve water consumption by switching out high-flowing toilets, faucets and showerheads. Instead, you can use low-flow showerheads, motion-sensing faucets that only run if water is needed, and a toilet that gives you two flushing options. 

Hot water systems: options here are gas hot water systems (they use either natural gas or LPG to heat water) or electricity-powered hot water heat pumps. Comparing credentials, storage gas hot water systems are usually less energy efficient than hot water heat pumps. 

Radiant heated floors: Radiant flooring, a system where either hot water pipes or electric wires are installed underneath flooring for heating purposes, is another great idea if you are looking for a sustainable alternative. Radiant heating usually gets the tick of approval over both conventional baseboards and forced air heating systems because it is able to eliminate duct losses, saving energy.

Flooring materials: there are many environmentally friendly flooring materials to choose from concrete floors, polished stone, recycled timber, bamboo, linoleum or cork.

As a rule of thumb, it is best to choose flooring that is comprised of the least materials. By contrast, flooring like laminate or vinyl involves significant extra materials and energy to produce and is not very durable.

Lighting: this is another key area. For sustainability gains on lighting in the bathroom, switch out compact fluorescent light bulbs with LED bulbs.  

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, are environmentally damaging due to toxic materials used in their manufacture. LED lights also last much longer than other types of lights, reducing the need for frequent replacements, and translating lower carbon emissions. 

Ventilation: ineffective ventilation causes steam to build up contributing to the growth of mould, which is bad for your health, can impact walls and grouting, and necessitates the use of harsh cleaning chemicals to eradicate. With an effective ventilation system, you reduce steam, which results in minimising the need to use harsh chemicals to clean.

The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs and, where appropriate, seek professional advice.