Energy efficient bathroom products
27/09/2010 | The bathroom is going places. During the last couple of years bathroom manufacturers have been busy updating their portfolios and there has been a race to bring innovative bathroom products to market which are both contemporary and stylish, and yet extremely water and energy efficient. Manufacturers are responding to the demands of government and consumers to introduce products which will reduce our carbon footprint and they have been remarkably successful. Yvonne Orgill, chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association takes a look at the progress being made. ________________________________________ Water and energy are inextricably linked The UK's population of 61 million is demanding more and more water. It is well known that water consumption has risen by 70% over the last 30 years and the government is concerned that this level of growth cannot be sustained. Domestic water use is around 150 litres per person per day and the government has set a target to reduce this to 130 litres per day by 2030. Reducing the water consumption of every UK household is thus a priority and water efficiency is at the very top of the bathroom designers' agenda. But they know that if they can design ground-breaking water efficient products then they will also be creating bathrooms which save energy. "Water efficiency means not only saving water but also saving the carbon required in delivering and using it," says Orgill. "We consume huge quantities of energy in purifying, transporting, and delivering water. We then consume huge quantities of energy to take away the waste and purify it once more." The latest statistics show that an average UK family emits the equivalent of two transatlantic flights in carbon through its water consumption every year and, according Waterwise (the leading authority on water efficiency in the UK), pumping both clean water and waste water to and from homes and then treating it accounts for 1% of the UK's total energy consumption. Water efficiency and energy efficiency are therefore inextricably linked. Energy efficient bathroom products During the last two years nearly every new bathroom product brought to market has been designed with water efficiency, and hence energy efficiency, in mind. The Toilet | The humble WC has gone through major technological changes recently. To the consumer there would appear to be no difference since the toilet bowl seems to look the same as it ever did. But the latest WC suites are totally unlike their ancestors. Designers have employed computer-aided modeling to create suites with clever water passages and sumps which use every drop of the flush water. The 13 litre guzzlers of the 1960s have been transformed into the minimalistic 2.6 litre abstainers of today. Designers have pushed the boundaries and now believe that they cannot go any further in reducing the water consumption of the WC suite. These super-low consumption products are key energy savers. Their carbon footprint is as low as you can get. The Bath | Baths, too, have come a long way in reducing water and energy consumption. Although showers are more popular than ever and are real water saving alternatives to the 'tub', some consumers will always love a good stress-busting soak and the bath is set to be around for a very long time yet. The capacity of a bath is determined by the amount of water it contains. The maximum allowed in law (without requiring special permission from the local water authority) is 230 litres to the overflow. With special shaping some modern eco-friendly baths require less than 140 litres and still provide a satisfying wallow. Some designers have gone further and have introduced new materials which mould to the body to reduce water consumption even further. This 90 litre reduction in the bath's hot water requirement represents a major saving. The consumer can relax in the knowledge that the very latest eco-friendly baths will save energy and reduce the family's carbon foot print. Showers | The shower has always been regarded as the low volume, low energy alternative to the bath. But research is proceeding at a pace to reduce consumption even further. Some members of the BMA now produce shower units with special showerheads which cleverly blend air with water creating bubbles which explode on impact with the skin. The result is a refreshing shower which uses less water than ever before. These showerheads can save as much as 75% of the water used even at the same water pressure. Instantaneous electric showers probably have the best energy saving credentials since they only heat water as it is required. Hot water is not stored before use. Only cold water is required since the water is heated at the point of delivery. Taps | The very latest low-flow taps are available with both special click-stop action and new temperature limiters. These single lever products have a click action indicating to the user full or reduced water flow. The built-in temperature limiter can be set to reduce the risk of scalding and reduce the amount of hot water required. Recycling | The ultimate bathroom energy saving appliances are those which recycle water either within the bathroom itself or from greywater and rainwater harvesting. In room recycling is epitomised by innovative washbasin and WC combos â€“ the used water from the basin being recycled to flush the toilet. New greywater and rainwater harvesting devices trap and cleanse water from the bath or from rainwater collectors and store it ready to flush the toilet or water the lawn! Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme Innovative and super-efficient bathroom products not only save water but they save energy. Less hot water usage means less energy consumption and a smaller carbon footprint. "It is an interesting time," comments Orgill. "Developments in eco-friendly bathroom products are coming to market really quickly now. The industry is responding to the growing need for low energy bathrooms." Products which meet strict eco criteria are listed in the Water Efficient Product Labelling Scheme. The scheme is administered by the BMA, and lists, in an on-line database, around 1000 water/energy efficient products. The award winning database has become the principal resource for anyone wishing to purchase sustainable bathroom products. The scheme can be found at www.water-efficiencylabel.org.uk/ The BMA | NOTES for editors What is the BMA? | The BMA is the trade association for bathroom manufacturers operating in the UK. It is the principal "Voice of the Bathroom Industry" and acts as an information highway between industry, government and the consumer on issues that affect the bathroom business. It represents the interests of 35 major bathroom manufacturing groups with 75 well known brands in the market place. The manufacturing base directly employs over 9,500 people at over 60 sites around the UK with retail sales in excess of Â£4 billion pounds sterling per annum.
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