Eco bathrooms: A guide to taps and showers
Consider choosing eco-friendly bathroom fixtures as part of your latest renovation or self-build.
Eco bathrooms require eco-friendly taps and showers to help save water and energy. If you’re on a meter, using less water will reduce your bill. It will also bring down your energy use, along with your fuel costs, and lower your water company’s CO2 emissions because less energy will be needed to pump and treat your supply. These designs combine sustainability and style.
When shopping for new taps or shower fittings, there are schemes that help identify a product’s water consumption and energy efficiency performance. Look out for the European Water label. You can also search the organisation’s product database online. Similarly, the Waterwise Recommended Checkmark highlights water-efficient products and services. And designs certified by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme are guaranteed to conform to British regulation standards.
Image: C.P Hart
Inbuilt tap technology makes every drop go further. Flow limiters restrict water use to a specific number of litres per minute, and aerators mix air and water to produce a gentle spray. Both options are designed to reduce consumption without there being any noticeable loss of performance. German manufacturer Hansgrohe’s EcoSmart flow limiter is fitted across all its new basin mixers.
Hi-tech advances have recently brought motion control to our bathrooms. ‘Infrared sensor-activated taps dispense water when hand movements prompt the sensor into action,’ says Paul Bailey, senior category manager at Grohe UK.
In general, power showers, which have a pump, use more water than standard thermostatic systems which simply mix hot and cold water from your regular water supply. Electric showers have their own heating element and use only the cold supply. ‘Some thermostatic designs have eco buttons which can reduce water use by as much as 50 per cent,’ says Paul Bailey. Digital showers, such as the Mira Mode, offer even greater levels of control, allowing pre-programmed temperature and flow settings so that no heat is wasted.
Reuse, recycle, recover
Recycling technology takes conservation a step further. Orbital Systems’ digital shower recirculates, purifies and heats water for savings that can be tracked by app. Zypho’s retrofit shower drain heat-recovery system, although not water-saving, can help reduce energy consumption by recapturing wasted heat. Water-management systems such as Grohe’s digital Sense Guard allow users to monitor and control water supplies from their phone, for instant notification of leaks.
The use of eco-friendly materials is worth taking into consideration to minimise your renovation or new-build’s carbon footprint. ‘Solid brass or stainless-steel taps do not contain plastic components, making them fully recyclable,’ says Howard Birch, managing director at Aston Matthews.
Choosing styles that will stand the test of time and are designed to have a long lifespan will prolong the period where you are happy to carry on using them, before buying a replacement. And purchasing from suppliers who are committed to sustainable manufacturing and production, such as Laufen, Duravit, Roca and Vitra, will further limit the embodied carbon of your project.
Water source: eco-friendly taps
Advice on taps for eco bathrooms by Paul Bailey, leader product management at Grohe UK:
- Invest in quality brassware to ensure it won’t need to be replaced for many years. Seek out taps with built-in flow limiters and aerators to save water and energy without affecting performance.
- Designs certified by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) conform to British regulation standard.
- Cold-start taps are designed to provide only cold water when first turned on, which forces you to make a conscious decision to select hot.
- Infrared taps activated by your hands prevent water from being left running unnecessarily. Infrared technology can also be teamed with flow limiters.
- To identify low-impact, recyclable designs check for Cradle to Cradle certification. This signifies that they can be broken down and reused to create new products at the end of their lives.
- Schemes such as European Water Label and Waterwise Recommended Checkmark indicate products’ water consumption and energy efficiency.