Don’t flush your money down the toilet

Did you know your bathroom can be a big energy waster? From dripping faucets and leaky toilet tanks to energy-hungry light bulbs and poor ventilation, the bathroom can be a major contributor to your annual energy bills.


The good news is, it doesn’t take much to remedy the problems and reduce your energy use. Money-Toilet-161x250


First off, fix that leaky sink. Not only could you be wasting thousands of gallons of water, you’re probably wasting gas, oil or electricity, too. According to Resnet, a hot water tap leaking at 1 drip per second adds up to 1,661 gallons of wasted water over a year. That doesn’t even take into account the energy used to heat that water. Check the bath tap, too, and repair or replace as necessary. Replace that old shower head with an energy-efficient low-flow model.


Now, check the toilet. To see if the tank is leaking into the bowl, add a few drops of food coloring to the tank. If it shows up in the bowl before you flush, there’s a leak. You can buy a repair kit at most hardware and big-box stores. If the toilet is an older model, consider replacing it with a low-flow model to save money and water.


Next, replace those lights with LED or compact fluorescent bulbs. The bathroom vanity usually sees the most use out of all the light fixtures in your house. By replacing the five most frequently used light bulbs in your house with Energy Star bulbs, you could save up to $70 yearly on your electric bill.


If your bathroom has poor ventilation, upgrade the exhaust fan. High humidity can cause mold, lower the lifespan of light fixtures and bulbs, and make your air conditioning work harder than it needs to. You should also check to ensure your fan is venting to the outside and not into the attic or the space between floors – an improperly vented fan will cause mold and mildew to build up inside your house, often in places where it can’t be seen.


The Home Ventilating Institute  recommends that a fan should move 1 cfm (cubic foot per minute) of air for every square foot of floor space in your bathroom. If your bathroom is bigger than 100 square feet, add

  • 50 cfm for every toilet
  • 50 cfm for each shower, bath and combo
  • 100 cfm for each whirlpool


One other thing to consider: in the winter, a properly vented fan will suck hot air out of your house. A heat-exchange fan, which uses warm, outgoing air to heat cooler incoming air, is an option. However, they’re quite pricey.


Finally, ensure that areas around your windows are caulked and weather-stripped. In the winter, replace screens with storm windows. If your windows are really old, consider replacing them with Energy Star certified models.


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