New Trends in the Bathroom Industry

16/01/2012 | Over the next six months what do you think will be the trends in the bathroom industry? Uncertainty remains a difficulty for the bathroom industry. There is lots of talk in the press about a possible double dip recession, and mixed messages are emerging about the economy. Builders are finding it difficult to sell houses and maintain margins and the construction industry generally has its good months and its bad. So it’s all very confusing and very difficult for the bathroom industry to forecast the year, indeed the next six months. It is challenging to say the least. In bathroom product design sustainability will become increasingly important. Consumers are looking to reduce their household bills and the recent hikes in energy and promised increases in water bills will push them to look for more efficient bathrooms. Last November’s Bathroom Conference was dedicated to discussing how the bathroom industry could profit from the emerging green agenda. Speaker after speaker talked about the need to educate consumers and change attitudes to water and energy consumption. There is a need to change our culture – just like the changes to drinking and smoking have been achieved. Consumers will be encouraged to use water wisely and bathroom manufacturers will do their bit by introducing more eco-friendly products as the year progresses. Trends in new build reflect the legislation. Eco-products are being embraced and savvy builders are choosing well known bathroom brands because they are assured that the new “skinny” products will have the same performance as the tried and tested traditional products. There are more innovative fittings coming to market offering excellent performance yet conserving water and reducing energy. Bathroom styling will remain minimalistic. Frameless shower enclosures are set to continue their rising popularity and in ceramics the trend to slender is set to take off. Chunky designs (which are relatively easy to produce) are going out of fashion as the new slender organic shapes become de rigueur. In the refurbishment market there is a change towards opening up bedrooms and en-suites to create a greater feeling of space. The facilities are, however, being maintained. Showering continues to grow but there are 20% of existing homes still without showers. Baths are playing a bigger part in the ‘refresh /re-invigour’ markets with eco baths now on the market that offer plenty of water to relax in. Wetrooms are also growing in popularity. Design-led wet room systems are great for all markets. Finally there is a new trend towards rimless WCs. These new hygienic pans will see more growth as consumers see their benefits and manufacturers recognize a market opportunity. It will be certainly interesting to see how the year progresses. ________________________________________ What role do bathroom appliances have in ensuring energy efficiency and water saving? Sustainability in bathrooms is the “most talked about topic” in industry circles. Water and energy efficiency have become major issues and from original product designers though to the Government, the search for savings is now key. Bathroom manufacturers, Members of the BMA, have embraced the drive to create more sustainable products. Indeed the topic has been a catalyst for competition between the main players, each trying to outperform their rivals. The BMA’s Water Label is playing major part in the pursuit of more efficient products. Those which meet the strict criteria laid down by industry experts can be listed in the online database of the Water Efficient Product Labelling Scheme. Last year saw the number of products on the scheme grow exponentially and over 1600 can now be found at the dedicated website - www.water-efficiencylabel.org.uk/ All the main bathroom appliances have a role in ensuring water and energy efficiency. The traditional bad boy in the bathroom, the WC, has now been tamed and flush volumes as low as an average 3 litres are commonplace. Compared with the 13 litre water guzzlers of 25 years ago WCs are now technically advanced and it is unlikely that further reductions in flush volume can be achieved without a radical move to dry or semi-dry systems. Bath tubs have been re-engineered and the latest body-shaping has ensured reductions of bath capacities from 210 litres down to 130 litres. The bath, once frowned upon as a big user, is now doing its bit in saving water. It also playing a big part in saving energy since, after all, hot water needs fuel to heat it. Shower units have advanced radically in recent years. Digital shower controls are excellent water and energy savers. They control water flow and temperature to extreme accuracy enabling the householder to reduce waste. Electric showers are energy efficient by default since they heat the water only as and when it is required. Taps with the latest click stop technology give the user accurate audible and tactile feedback about the volume of the hot and cold water being used. So bathrooms and the rapidly advancing technology are playing their part in the drive for sustainability. The bathroom has long been regarded as the Cinderella Room of the home. It has blossomed in recent years and is now the Princess of the Property.

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