By Javier Saucedo, emPower Central Coast Energy Coach
Are you getting to the breaking point being greeted day after day by the sound of squeaky, leaky bathroom faucets or the sight of mismatched floor tiles? Is your Pinterest already brimming with pictures of your dream bath? While improving your bathroom’s aesthetic appeal may be your top goal, you’ll be happy to know that a remodel also brings the opportunity to save money, water and energy, all while creating a healthier home.
As an energy coach for the county-operated emPower Central Coast program – along with more than 20 years in construction and energy conservation — I am committed to helping homeowners make their houses more energy efficient.
As part of emPower’s free Energy Coach service, I’ve helped homeowners determine which home upgrades will help make every day brighter and more comfortable while saving energy. Many homes I visit can greatly benefit from a few basic concepts. If the next room on your list is your bath, here are some of the top measures that can make a big difference in comfort and efficiency.
And whichever room is next on your list, bed or bath, kitchen, living room or even garage, we’d love to help! Sign up for a free Energy Coach consultation at emPowersbc.org.
Let Your Bathroom Breathe. Many homeowners think that having a small window in the bathroom is enough to air it out thoroughly. But the problem with this is that when windows are kept closed during colder winter temps, moisture can build up in the room, causing mildew and mold problems.
To properly ventilate your bathroom, you’ll want to install exhaust fans to get rid of all the moisture. If the bathroom ceiling has spots, mold has started to grow, meaning you have a moisture problem. That moisture should get sucked outside rather than being recirculated through the bathroom or into the home. Make sure that your ventilation pipe is connected to the outside and not creating moisture in your attic space. Humidity can attract termites and other unwanted pests.
Light Up Your Life (with LEDs). In addition to saving you money on the electric bill, LED fixtures use 70 to 90 percent less energy than standard lightbulbs. So swap out those old bulbs and then give yourself an extra smile in the bathroom mirror for saving money and energy!
Water You Doing to Save Hot Water? An easy way to save precious hot water is to install a more energy-efficient showerhead. Some showerheads come with devices that control the flow of gallons per minute. Another option is a recirculating pump. Are you waiting around while the shower heats up? If you get a recirculating pump, it’ll return cold water back into the water heater. When the desired temperature reaches the valve, it will open up, giving the homeowner the hot water for their shower or sink.
Think Tank. If your water heater is more than eight years old, it may be time for an upgrade. Most standard water heaters burn gas continuously to heat up 80 gallons of water at a given time–even when it’s not in use. A new, smaller water heater with a 30- to 40-gallon capacity could be enough to fit your needs and require less gas to heat.
Some other less common but proven energy-efficient options are tankless or solar water heaters. Though these eco-friendly options tend to be on the pricier side, this investment can prove beneficial, saving you 70 to 80 percent on your monthly gas bill.
Whatever water heater you get, remember that most have a lifetime of seven or eight years before experiencing water leakage due to decay and rust. And just as important as ensuring your heater is installed safely is knowing when to replace it. Consider installing a soft water conditioner system, which will help your appliance last longer.
Whatever changes you have in mind for your bathroom, remember that emPower Central Coast is here for you. Visit us at emPowersbc.org to see what we do and to find more helpful tips!
About emPower Central Coast
The emPower program offers voluntary incentives, financing and other services to help single-family homeowners in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties make home energy upgrades easier and more affordable. emPower was established by the County of Santa Barbara to help the community preserve the environment by helping to lower energy consumption and stimulate the economy by creating jobs through innovative, voluntary solutions to support a sustainable building performance market. Call (805) 781-5625 for more.