April 21, 2011 2:57 pm
By Keith Loria
RISMEDIA, April 21, 2011-Most real estate experts will tell you that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses. A bathroom is also one of the easiest places in the home to upgrade to become environmentally friendly. For those looking to appeal to potential home buyers who consider "green" improvements a priority, there are several options you can focus on.
"When remodeling, you should use fixtures that save water; replace old windows with new energy-efficient windows; and add counter tops and flooring made from recycled materials, such as recycled glass mosaic tile," said Jennifer Powers, an interior designer with New York-based Scott-Ulmann.
Considerable water and money can be saved when you make a bathroom as water-efficient as possible. Saving water is easy with the addition of a low-flow showerhead, a low-flow faucet aerator, or a dual-flush toilet, which can save thousands of gallons of water each year.
"The low-flow aerator adds air to the water and helps to spread the water over a larger area so less water is needed," said Jim Byrne, a member of the organization Tree Living. "They restrict the overall flow of water but increase the force and pressure, making a small amount of water very effective."
Also, if your toilet was installed prior to 1994, it uses two to seven times more water than modern toilets. Any toilet bought after 1994 uses 1.6 gallons per flush or less. That's a great reason to upgrade.
For lighting in the bathroom, consider making the switch to fluorescent with electronic ballasts or halogen lighting. Adding energy-efficient large windows can also allow for great natural light.
Not everything has to be a big expense. There are plenty of low-cost improvements that can be done to make the bathroom greener. "An easy fix is to replace your shower curtain with one made from an eco-friendly product," Byrne said. "More attention is being paid to the toxic vapors that come from soft plastics, and shower curtains are no exception. Those interested in a green solution may want to use linen or cotton instead."
An energy-efficient bathroom should also have a properly functioning vent fan to draw out the hot, moist air from the bathroom. This will keep your summertime cooling costs under control.
The addition of a vapor barrier is also recommended, as it will separate the room from the rest of the house so that heat from the bathroom doesn't affect your home's cooling costs.
Powers said to also consider using natural stone products that act as a natural insulator and can help keep floors cool during the summer and warm during the winter months.