High-Tech Bathrooms Brainerd MN
Love it or hate it, technology arguably has become an integral part of our lives. Even the bathroom has gotten caught up in the age of technology. In an effort to conserve water, control energy consumption and make our homes healthier and more efficient, manufacturers have come through with a variety of bathroom products worthy of investigation. In particular, 21 bathroom innovations caught our attention, and are described below.
The good news is that you don't have to trade style for efficiency. According to Ann M. Morris, a certified master kitchen and bath designer in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., "It's possible to have a green bathroom that doesn't look techno. Think sculpted towel warmers that also help heat the bathroom and surfacing made from recycled materials. These products offer beauty and efficiency in one package."
Running Hot and Cold
According to Asa Foss, a building scientist with the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH), "Up to 20 percent of the average household energy bill goes toward heating water." To cut energy usage and costs, Foss advocates the use of solar water heaters (especially evacuated tube models) or tankless water heaters. He also urges grouping together several elements that provide energy and water efficiency, rather than choosing just one element. Faucets that regulate water temperature and tubs that maintain hot water temperature longer are two such elements.
The TempAssure Thermostatic Custom Shower System, available on Delta Faucet's 1900 Series Custom Jetted Shower, delivers a pampering shower with managed water droplet size and temperature regulation. Similarly, with the ESS (Electronic Shower System) from Ondine, you can program a specific water temperature and manage multiple showerheads. The ESS is also available as a tub-filler regulator, with auto-fill or half-fill settings, a 10-second refill option, and temperature and time limits. Programmable buttons enable you to recall different selections.
If you love a hot soak in the tub but are frustrated by rapidly cooling water, two new products will catch your attention. The Neo Tub Double Wall stainless steel model from Neo-Metro has a double-wall insulation design to keep bath water hot longer. For even greater heat maintenance, try an MTI Whirlpool tub with the Radiance system, which integrates technology similar to that of radiant heat flooring into the tub's acrylic shell.
A truly earth-friendly bath includes fixtures that conserve water. WaterSense, a new Environmental Protection Agency program, is a voluntary public-private partnership that promotes the use of water-efficient products and services. WaterSense currently conducts independent water-efficiency testing for toilets and irrigation systems and will start labeling high-efficiency models and systems this year. Plans for testing other types of products are in the works.
Low-flush toilets and low-flow showerheads go a long way in saving water (and are mandated by law). For toilets, Foss recommends dual-flush models. Kohler's Power Lite line of dual-flush toilets promises to save an average household approximately 2,000 gallons of water annually. For light waste, there's a 1.0-gallon flush, and for more solid waste, a 1.4-gallon flush.
Scott Shepherd of PATH notes the superior performance of faucets with laminar flow controls, which can reduce water usage by 90 percent or more over comparable low-flow fixtures (according to manufacturers). Laminar flow controls are available on faucets like the Kohler K-923 tub-filler.
For efficient (yet satisfying) showering, Delta's H20kinetic showerhead delivers the feeling of a standard showerhead at a lower flow, using just 1.6 gallons of water per minute. For even greater efficiency, there is the WOW Shower system, which uses a Jet Pump to recycle water that is cleaned and filtered while you shower. Or choose a showerhead with a shut-off valve, so you can turn off the flow while lathering up. "If you like your current showerhead," Foss explains, "you can attach an inexpensive shut-off valve that will accomplish the same thing."
A unique approach to water conservation (though one that may take a while to catch on) is the Sinkpositive toilet-tank sink by Environmental Designworks. The sink attaches to the top of any toilet tank and allows diversion of clean tank water during flushing to the sink faucet for hand washing. The water then flows to the toilet bowl for the next flush.
Some technology-enhanced products are irresistible because they offer luxury or are just plain fun. The DTV custom showering system by Kohler, for instance, allows custom showering with multiple showerheads, hand showers and body sprays. All are controlled by the touch of a button and can be programmed for personal shower experiences.
Similarly, the Toto Neorest toilet is a marvel of features. Among the included options are an automatic open/close lid, a personal wash system, a purifying system and a warm air dryer. Yet Neorest is completely compliant with a 1.6-gallon flush (or a 1.2-gallon light flush) and is controlled by wireless remote.
Sound like a little too much technology for you? Consider something simpler and pampering like Takagi's Fresh Seat. It installs on your existing toilet and offers bidet functions plus a warm air dryer.
Light and Air
Makers of bath lighting and ventilation products are also giving the nod to efficiency. Energy Star-rated lighting, for instance, must use one-third the energy of traditional lighting, among other factors. Look for models such as Cooper Lighting's Halo recessed lights for use in the bathroom.
Bathroom ventilation systems should be quiet yet powerful enough to mitigate excessive heat and humidity. Fantech has an Energy Star-rated bath fan with a low-energy fluorescent light that is both effective and efficient. Broan's SensAire ventilation fan includes both motion and humidity sensors, eliminating the need for a wall switch.
Designed for larger baths, the Multi-port Bathroom Suite Ventilator from American Aldes can ventilate three areas of a bathroom, such as the shower, tub and toilet areas. Its three flow ports will vent a total of 160 to 200 cfm (cubic feet of air per minute). A typical bath intermittent fan exhausts at about 50 cfm.
To Your Health
What better place than the bathroom for innovations that maintain or even improve your health? The Transparent Deluxe Chlorine Removing Shower Filter from Green Home, for example, promises a 90-percent reduction in chlorine and other particulate levels in shower water for a healthier experience.
Sonaki America goes a step further by adding Vitamin C filters to its VAIO showerheads, which not only neutralize chlorine but also provide a burst of nutrients to water to promote healthy skin and hair. And the Shower-Shower Automatic Shower Cleaning System from Intelligent Consumer Products will rinse your shower after each use to keep it clean and healthy.
Products boasting anti-microbial features are a natural for the bathroom. One such product, the O-Zone Lite, is a compact fluorescent light with a titanium oxide coating that helps eliminate airborne bacteria, mold, fungi and odors. The UltraTouch Antimicrobial Comfort Touch Toilet Seat also has anti-microbial properties, resisting molds, mildew, bacteria and fungi. Heated for warm comfort, it uses only 12 watts of power.
Finally, how can you be sure that high-tech products deliver on their claims? Foss suggests researching the product to see if it has undergone independent testing by national laboratories to verify its performance. And trust you own judgment. Find those products that make sense to you, and give them a try.