Going Green Remodeling - Tips, Dos & Don'ts - Bathroom Edition

Bathroom remodels continue to be one of the most highly demanded, and smart, investments for homeowners. But what about going green in the bathroom?

It's a no-brainier that an eco-friendly green bathroom remodel will save you on energy costs and drastically reduce your home's water usage and electric bill.

What many homeowners don't realize, is you don't need to spend a fortune to have a contemporary and comfortable bathroom.

Majewski Plumbing also offers financing through Hearth for those of us who don't want to front a lot of cash up front. Hearth allows you to have an extremely low interest rate loan, with no hard credit check. Sounds great right?

Learn more about our financing program here.

The Cost of Going Green Placing a price tag on the cost of going green with your bathroom remodel is easier said than done, even for you folks living in Stone Harbor, Avalon, and Cape May. After all, the level of a green remodel that each homeowner is willing to commit to is different, as are the individual specifications of each project.

What we can tell you is this:

  • Green remodeling does not necessarily mean higher initial costs.

  • Green remodeling is guaranteed to translate into large energy savings over the life of your remodel.

  • Determining the value of green remodeling isn't always best served by focusing on the bottom line.

The first bullet may be the most appealing to our readers. Majewski Plumbing offers both affordable prices and contemporary designs for home renovations, and through Hearth we can even finance it for you.

This last one is may be the most important though. It's what green remodeling expert David Johnston refers to as "avoiding the payback trap." Going green isn't just about reducing your monthly utility costs. It's about creating healthier living environments for you and your family, utilizing long lasting and low-maintenance materials that minimize and reduce repairs, increasing the value of your home, and emphasizing environmental responsibility for your children. As you can see, assigning value in the world of green remodeling goes beyond assessing a final cost in dollars and cents. And who wouldn't want to give their kids a better place to live?

How to Maximize Energy Savings in Your Green Bathroom Remodel Reducing energy consumption, and in turn utility bills, is one of the most popular reasons homeowners choose to go green. In the bathroom, that means reducing water usage and increasing energy efficiency across the board.

This can also be aided with Smart Home Technology, which Majewski Plumbing also offers upon request.

Here's a list of things you can do to ensure maximum energy efficiency, and in turn, lower the operating costs of your bathroom.

  • Install low flow faucets and shower heads. They can reduce water usage at these fixtures by up to 60 percent!

  • Install low-flush, high-efficiency toilets. Older toilets use between 3.5 and 7 gallons per flush. New models do the job just as well with 1.6 gallons of water or less.

  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (or smart bulbs). Homes lit with incandescent bulbs can attribute up to 25 percent of their electric bills to home lighting. Compact fluorescent light bulbs use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times as long.

  • Install low-e, multiple panned windows with vinyl or wood frames. Installing energy-efficient windows throughout your home can reduce total energy costs by 30 to 50 percent and they provide valuable natural light, ventilation, and passive solar heat.

  • Install a skylight or solar tube(s) to increase natural lighting. It will pay for itself in about a years time.

  • Install radiant heating. It's more efficient and healthier than forced air. We can do this upon request.

  • Insulate plumbing, and remove it from outside walls. Doing so reduces heat loss as water travels from your hot water heater to the faucet, (aided by our Tankless Navien Never-ending Hot Water Heaters) and saves on water heating costs. This also helps for the seasonal goers who need to winterize they're home every winter.

  • Install an "On-demand" hot water circulation pump. These pumps send hot water to your faucet in seconds, and reduce the demands placed on your hot water heater.

  • Consider replacing your old hot water heater with a newer, more efficient model. This is a HUGE energy and money saver. High-efficiency fossil fuel water heaters, tankless water heaters (such as Navien), and heat pump water heaters are all sound energy savings solutions. Or upgrade your present heater with an insulation jacket, heat traps, and a water heater timer. Majewski Plumbing are one of the few licensed installers of Navien Water Heaters in New Jersey.

  • Insulate as much as possible. If you're gutting your bathroom anyway, the more insulation you install in the walls, the better. Be sure to seal up other sources of air leaks as well, such as the small, hidden gaps where plumbing enters your bathroom.

Green Bathroom Remodeling Tips for a Healthier Home. Urea formaldehyde, vinyl chloride gasses, volatile organic compounds, and toxic mold might sound like the beginning of a toxicology report, but all are actually chemicals and byproducts commonly associated with building materials used in the bathroom. (Yes, really.)

Their presence has been linked to everything from rising levels of childhood asthma to much more serious maladies like cancer, repressed immune systems, and nervous system damage - not kidding.

Green remodeling strives to reduce or eliminate the presence of these harmful elements, increasing your home's indoor air quality, and in turn, the health of everyone that lives under your roof. Here is a list of things to look for, and to look out for, in pursuit of the healthiest bathroom possible.

  • Investigate your local water supply and install filters on sink faucets and shower-heads. Your water will be healthier, taste better, and be safer for bathing, especially for those with chemical sensitivities. Investigate local water quality first, however, since different filters meet different needs.

  • Use formaldehyde-free insulation, including recycled content fiberglass, cellulose, or rock wool insulation. Traditional batt insulation materials contain formaldehyde that can off-gas into your bathroom. That's bad news, considering the fact that formaldehyde is a documented carcinogen.

  • Design with ventilation in mind. The high moisture levels in a bathroom make for the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew, as well as rot and other moisture damage. Opening windows during warmer months and installing a bathroom exhaust fan vented to the outside for the rest of the year helps to keep moisture levels down.

  • Only use water resistant wall and floor coverings. Avoid wallpaper and carpet, both of which can harbor moisture, foster mold growth, and off-gas other indoor air contaminants.

  • Select low-VOC paints, adhesives, and sealers. Most traditional paints, adhesives, and sealers emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for years after being applied. Low- or no-VOC paints, adhesives, grouts, and sealers help achieve higher indoor air quality levels.

  • Avoid MDF (medium density fiberboard) and particle board whenever possible. Both are common materials used in countertop and cabinet construction, and both off-gas urea formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. If you do use MDF or particleboard, seal it with several coats of a low- or no-VOC paint or sealer.

  • Avoid vinyl flooring. Vinyl flooring puts off vinyl chloride gas, another known carcinogen.

  • Replace lead plumbing in older homes.

Comfort, Quality, Durability, and Green Bathroom Remodeling Going green doesn't mean settling for lower quality, or sacrificing looks and comfort for environmentally friendly products. In fact, the opposite is usually the case. Green remodeling requires contractors to pay closer attention to their building practices; green products utilize the most cutting edge technology and design features; and green building focuses on materials that are long lasting and durable, since the best materials from a green standpoint are often the best building materials, period. Here are some green bathroom strategies of Johnston's that will result in a more comfortable, higher quality, and longer lasting bathroom remodel every time.

  • Maximize insulation. Warmer bathrooms are more comfortable bathrooms, and more insulation helps reduce noise pollution, as well.

  • Install new bathroom fixtures. New, energy-efficient bathroom fixtures are cutting edge when it comes to water efficiency and design. There's no need to sacrifice comfort or looks by going green, especially with our partners at Harbaugh Developers and Burke Builders.

  • Consider a tankless water heater, heat pump water heater, or an "on demand" water heater. You'll never have to wait for hot water to arrive at the faucet or shower again! (Really really).

  • Install radiant heating in floors, walls, or ceilings. We won't sugar coat it, radiant heating is a luxury item in any bathroom, but from a green standpoint, the heat is more consistent, comfortable, and it's healthier since it doesn't stir up dust and other particulates like forced air heating. If you're gutting your floor anyway, this is a go-to.

  • Use ceramic or stone for countertops, flooring, and wall tile. Ceramic and stone are virtually waterproof, healthier in regards to moisture resistance and indoor air quality, last a lifetime, and are hands down some of most beautiful products on the market, green or otherwise.

  • Install task specific lighting wired to independent switches. Whether you need mood lighting for a "candle lit" soak in the tub, or task lighting at the vanity for getting ready in the morning, task specific lighting wired to independent switches allows you to achieve the perfect lighting level for any situation and reduce energy consumption since you can turn off lights you don't need.

Install Smart Home Technology Systems.

Voice commanded smart homes hubs are both fun, and energy savers, with low overhead costs. Majewski Plumbing created our off-branch company Majewski Smart Homes as a way to bridge the gap between new construction and contemporary living.

  • We use state of the art smart thermostats that are dialed directly into your boiler and home heating systems and can be controlled from any mobile device. All thermostats can be scheduled to go on and off and maintain minimal at certain times of the day. 

  • The difference is our thermostat systems take into account variations in room temperatures with the built in sensors. We can program your home to redirect air flow and heat or cool rooms that need it more than others, maintaining a more thorough temperature through your home, and again, saving you money on those darn electric bills!

  • Smart bulbs or smart outlets can be programmed to turn off automatically after a specific amount of time, and can even be programmed to only turn on with movement via sensors. Should you forget to turn a light off, you can manually do so via our NEST app or simply by asking Alexa.

  • LeakSmart is a system designed to prevent water damage. The LeakSmart Valve installs direct into your main water supply. In the event of a leak, it will automatically shut off the water main in 5 seconds or less, when paired with the LeakSmart Sensor and Hub. You then get a notification to your phone. LeakSmart integrates into Nest, Alexa, and many other smart home hubs. It also saves money on home owners insurance!

​This is Majewski Plumbing & Smart Homes signature device that we install in all of our projects and homes.

Environmental Responsibility in the Bathroom Any discussion of green remodeling would be incomplete without talking about environmental responsibility. After all, at its heart, green remodeling is about living more harmoniously with our environment. Here's advice on how to shift thinking green to an environmental standpoint, and reasons why it's a good idea to do so.

  • Use recycled building materials. Old lumber, trim, and door and window casings can all be reused if removed carefully. And if you're willing to be flexible when it comes to design, perfectly good sinks, cabinet hardware, and ceramic and stone tile, for example, can all be purchased from retailers who specialize in reclaiming and recycling old building materials.

  • Use materials manufactured with recycled content. Be it cellulose insulation made from recycled paper and cardboard, or recycled content glass and ceramic bathroom tile, building materials made from recycled content help to reduce waste, require less energy to manufacture, and are equal to, or of higher quality than, most products made from virgin materials.

  • Recycle construction and job site waste. Old porcelain toilets and other ceramics can be ground up and used to make concrete, steel tubs can me melted down for the metal, and that old sink that you think is hideous might be exactly what a homeowner across town has been looking for all along.

  • Increasing energy efficiency isn't just good for your pocketbook. Whether it's reducing the amount of fossil fuels needed to heat and light your bathroom or eliminating wasteful use of a valuable natural resource like water, any steps you take to cut your home utility costs are beneficial for the environment as well.

Is Green the Right Color for Your Bathroom Remodel? Going green with your bathroom remodel is a smart move from just about every angle. It reduces energy costs, creates healthier indoor environments, and the final product is a more comfortable, higher quality bathroom. And, of course, it's also a good choice when it comes to being a good steward of your environment.

Even better, going green doesn't have to be a huge commitment. It's true that the greenest bathroom remodel is one that incorporates green building practices into every facet of your remodel — a concept that Johnston refers to as "whole systems building." But simple things like installing a low-flush toilet, a high-efficiency hot water heater, or choosing environmentally friendly countertop and cabinet materials for your new vanity are all smart steps in a green direction.

Bottom Line:

If you think your bathroom remodel would look better in green, contact Majewski Plumbing about adopting a green building philosophy, find a contractor who specializes in green building and remodeling, or seek out the services of a green consulting firm to help you make the right decisions in designing the perfect green bathroom for your home.

Contact us today for a consultation, quote, or information regarding your next remodel or renovation!

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