oldbathroomsinkI'm not going to lie. When it came to purchasing my house, the neglected bathroom was nearly a deal breaker. The tiles were cracked, the tub was stained and the fixtures and appliances were what one contractor described as the equivalent of cheap beer. So a bathroom remodel was a high priority for me.

Before I called a contractor or sketched out a bathroom plan, I made a prioritized list of what I wanted to change in my bathroom. This served as my touchstone throughout the process. My goals for the remodel were to reduce energy and water consumption, maximize space, and increase beauty and comfort.

Finding a terrific contractor who was aligned with my vision, understood the kinds of materials I wanted to use, and was able to work within my budget and time frame was not easy. Just as I was about to give up on the ideal of moving into a house with a nice, new loo, I connected with the professional and efficient Ian Hurst.

oldtoiletIan understood my commitment to massive energy and water savings on a modest budget, and he was also committed to my definition of beauty. This part is important— your contractor often makes decisions on your behalf whether you plan for it or not, so this shared vision is integral.

Recognizing that most of the water we use within our homes is used in the bathroom, my first goal was to conserve water. According to authors Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert—who penned the nifty book Water, released by sustainable living publisher Chelsea Green — installing a water-efficient toilet, using a low-flow tap and showerhead can reduce your overall water consumption by about 25 percent, so I made sure my budget could accommodate these items.

Also according to Water, more than one-fourth of the clean, drinkable water we use in a home is used to flush a toilet. Contrast this with the fact that one in six people on the planet don't have access to enough clean drinking water, and you'll start to understand why we need to reconsider where our water goes.

simran sethi_1
12/30/2010 7:58:31 PM

Thanks to all for the suggestions and further insights.

12/26/2010 3:43:04 AM

I'm amazed you didn't direct the direct the waste water from your sink into the loo reservoir. Sometimes if that's simply not feasible there are loos with a wash-hand-basin on top of reservoir. Both are worth considering.

melanie b
12/24/2010 3:52:42 PM

How about recycling the sink water to use in the toilet - it seems easy enough. The sink drain is higher than the toilet basin, and could flow to a holding area, then be re-used in the toilet.

keith hallam_1
12/24/2010 1:30:40 PM

Hi, the tankless hot water on demand heating systems (called combination boilers in the UK) are not as efficient as a properly installed condensing boiler and hot storage tank system. They are not allowed to be fitted to any new build properties in the UK now. Hand washing, shower and bath water can all be used as toilet flushing water, it just needs a little ingenuity in your setup. Any excess can also be used to water your garden. You must let some go to waste though to keep your drain systems sweet and clear.

12/18/2010 4:58:19 PM

I can also vouch for Caroma. I installed their dual flush toilet with a sink on top of the tank (for hand washing after a flush) almost a year ago. I am extremely pleased with the toilet, both its performance (no skid marks, no double flushing, noticeable water savings) and the reactions it elicits from my friends and family. Jessie in Atlanta, Ga.

joel hirshberg
12/18/2010 1:41:54 PM

Thanks for the kudos. Just wanted to respond to your comments on dual flush toilets. While unsightly "skid marks" are problematic for many companies, we have almost no problem with our Caroma dual flush toilets. There area two reasons for this: 1)the sides are steeper than most, and 2) there is very little water in the bottom of the bowl so that the vast majority of the .8 gallons washes down everything in its path. I've had a Caroma dual flush in my home for 5 years and rarely have any skid marks and if I do, they always come clean upon flushing. And that's with the smaller .8 gallon flush button! We never use the 1.6 gallon button in our home because we don't need to. Joel Hirshberg, www.greenbuildingsupply.com

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