Elements of a sustainable bathroom / toilet / laundry

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Clickable bathroom Ventilation fan ducted to exterior Windows for natural daylight as well as ventilation Water-saving cistern with integrated hand-basin Water efficient appliances Hobless shower for universal access Durable, water-resistant and slip-resistant flooring Hot water circulation products Plumbing and hot water Image Map

 Water efficient appliances

Install water-efficient appliances and plumbing devices for flow reduction and limiting pressure to conserve water. Water-efficient appliances include low-volume dual-flush cisterns for toilets, high-efficiency shower heads and tapware that are certified with a good rating under the Australian Government’s Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS).

If you are not purchasing new taps, consider flow restrictors or water saving aerators. There are also affordable devices you can install in the cistern to reduce flush volume, before you are able to upgrade your toilet to dual-flush.

Keep an eye out for leaks. There are devices which can shut off the water when a leak is detected, minimising water wastage.

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Universal access

A hobless (no rim or step-free) shower and flush thresholds to external doors reduces the risk of tripping and is easily accessible to people in wheelchairs or crutches. Enabling universal access in rooms helps to meet the changing needs of most home occupants throughout their lifetime without the need for specialisation. Slip-resistant floor surfaces in wet areas can help prevent falls.

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Hot water circulation products

If the bathroom or kitchen is at a distance from the water heater, a lot of cold water can be wasted while waiting for the hot water to arrive. In a four-person home, this can add up to 20,000 litres of water wasted a year. There are a number of devices that can be installed to improve the efficiency of your plumbing, and to cut down on how much water is wasted.

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  • Temperature controllers regulate the temperature of your outlets, meaning that you won’t be wasting any water trying to balance the hot and cold to get to your desired water warmth.
  • Cold water diverters with a temperature controller can be installed in existing homes to save water. Instead of letting the cold water run through the pipes until the desired temperature is reached, cold water diverters push the water back until a particular temperature is reached. Some of these do not require any additional power, pump or batteries to work, instead running on water pressure.
  • Recirculation systems work like cold water diverters, but they use a recirculation pump to push the water along a dedicated pipe until water of the right temperature reaches the tap. This means the water is the right temperature whenever you want to use the tap. The recirculation pump will consume a little bit of electricity though, which also needs to be considered. These systems are better fitted in new homes so the plumbing can be configured for the maximum benefit.

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Plumbing and hot water

Lagging and Valve Cosy

Even the most efficient water heating systems face the problem of water cooling in the pipes before it reaches the point of use. Piping insulation or lagging is particularly important to have on the pipes leading out of the hot water system, and any other piping exposed to the outdoors. Various types of lagging are available in different materials for different diameters of piping, so be sure to take measurements before you make a purchase. Lagging will also have different insulation ratings, so get as thick a material as your pipes and budget will allow. It is generally not difficult to install lagging on your own piping but a plumber will be able to help. With gas systems, it is important to stop insulating about 30cm away from the flue, as the pipes leading up to it can get very hot and melt the lagging.

Heat loss can also be reduced by using a valve cover. There are valve covers to fit most hot water systems.

Instead of PVC, consider using copper, high density polyethylene (HDPE) or recycled plastic for pipes. Mechanical fasteners, 100% lead-free solders and zero or low-VOC adhesives are best to minimise the environmental impact of your plumbing project.

When renovating bathrooms, you need not replace sanitary ware and tiles. Options such as re-enamelling can give a fresh look. Just make sure that the enamel used to resurface is low VOC.

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 Ventilation systems

Trapped moisture is the major cause of mould and mildew in bathrooms. Moisture also can cause damage to internal construction and finishes. A ventilation/exhaust fan ducted outside removes the moisture and improves air quality.

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