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Improvements when you’re refurbishing your bathroom
Changing your bathroom is quite a major job, so why not make the most of it and include as many energy efficiency improvements as you can while you’re about it? Then you can be sure you won’t have to rip out your lovely new bath in a couple of years just to add some insulation. And it will be cheaper too in the long run if you do everything at once.
Here are the main things to consider when planning a new bathroom...
The biggest energy saving you can make to your home is by insulating your walls so now is the time to think about the walls in your bathroom.
You can add insulation to the inside of each of the bathroom’s external walls once the tiles and fittings have been taken out and before you fit new ones. Quite a bit of the cost of internal wall insulation is in making good – finishing off the walls, decorating and replacing any fixtures and fittings. You’re already planning to do most of that, so get some insulation in now and you’ll save money. You can worry about insulating the other rooms of the house when you get round to decorating them.
Internal wall insulation is mostly installed by people with solid wall houses (the walls don’t have a cavity). Find out what sort of walls your property has.
If you have cavity walls, then you’ve probably already insulated them by having the cavity filled. But if you want to super-insulate your home then adding some internal insulation now is the sensible way to do it. It will take a long time for the extra savings to pay for the insulation, but you’ll be taking the opportunity to future-proof your home while you can.
If you have cavity walls and they aren’t insulated, find out how to get them insulated now. It’s usually all done from the outside so it doesn’t matter whether you’re decorating or not. But if access to the outside of a wall is tricky then it can be insulated from the inside, in which case you should get it done now so they don’t have to drill through your nice new tiles.
If you have cavity walls but they cannot be filled for technical reasons then you should treat them as though they were solid walls – in other words, fit some internal wall insulation while you’ve got the chance.
If your bathroom is on the ground floor, then now is the time to insulate it. Your feet will thank you whenever you step out of the shower on a cold winter’s day.
If your central heating boiler is in the bathroom, now is a good time to check if it needs replacing. If your boiler is 10 years old or more it is worth considering a new, more efficient boiler. And if you’re replacing the boiler, the new one doesn’t necessarily have to go where the old one was, giving you more options when designing your new bathroom layout. You could even move it to a different room to make more space, or move it into the bathroom to make space in your kitchen.
And if you are changing the boiler, now is the time to fit the best heating controls to make sure that the bathroom is warm when you’re using it, but you’re not heating it when it’s empty.
Hot water cylinder
If you have a hot water cylinder in your bathroom, make sure it is properly insulated, and check the thermostat is set to 60˚C while you’re about it.
Insulating the hot water pipes in a house can be one of the cheapest ways to save energy – the problem is we usually can’t get at the pipes very easily. When you’re doing the bathroom, you’ll be exposing some of these pipes and possibly fitting a few more, so get some insulation on them while you can.
Showers, taps and baths
If you can fit an aerating shower head rather than a standard one, this will reduce your water heating bill and will help save water too. If you have an electric shower you won’t be able to fit an aerating head.
Now is a good time to fit some water efficient taps too. Aerating taps work in much the same way as the shower head, and will use less water while still giving the impression of high flow. There’s no point fitting them to a bath though – it will just take longer to fill. If you use a bath, you can save water and energy by fitting a smaller bath.
If you’re getting new light fittings for the bathroom, why not get some LED luminaires? They cost more than standard light fittings, but the LEDs will last far, far longer than halogens or old fashioned bulbs, and the money you save on electricity will pay for the extra cost several times over. If you want to stick to standard light fittings, then compact fluorescents will do just fine.
Whatever types of light you go for, there are rules about what you can fit where in a bathroom, so you should ask your electrician about this at an early stage when planning your lighting. This will affect the type of fitting but it won’t stop you using LEDs or compact fluorescents.
If your bathroom has a single-glazed window, you will probably feel the cold from it every time you get out of the shower. Now is the time to replace them with Energy Saving Trust Recommended windows, even if you can’t afford to do all the windows in the house at the same time. The new window will help keep your fuel bills down as well as keeping the chill off, and will reduce the amount of condensation you get on the inside of the window.
If you can’t afford to replace an old window then you should at least make sure it’s properly draught-proof. And if that’s OK you could consider secondary glazing to save a bit more.
Condensation in bathrooms is often a problem. Replacing the window and insulating the walls can help, but you will usually still need an extractor fan to get rid of the excess moisture in the air. Why not consider an extractor fan with heat recovery? This recovers heat from the warm wet air it extracts and uses this to pre-heat the cold incoming air, so you can get rid of the condensation without wasting all the heat.