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2011 - Volume 1 Issue 2
Casas Bonitas
New Home Construction
Article: Charlotte Tallman
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Bathrooms are quickly moving into the spotlight when it comes to selecting bathroom fixtures that are appealing, energy efficient and eco-friendly. The available choices are getting better and better – turning boring bathrooms into better bathrooms. Sinks, bathtubs, whirlpools, showers, toilets, bidets, steam showers and saunas are all important when selecting bathroom fixtures, but the selection is not all about picking something that is visually appealing.

When selecting bathroom fixtures, the energy demand and water usage, as well as space to place the unit, needs to be considered in designing the overall size of the bathroom.

Water Conservation

    Photo Captions

1.) TOTO’s Waza Aya™ comes from a natural glaze process that produces color that are never identical. Available in five distinct colors.

2.) TOTO’s Waza Noir™ collection features three cast iron lavatories that transition from matte to glossy finishes.

3.) TOTO’s Soiree Collection Rain Showerhead
  "We are now using only the tankless, on-demand water heaters. Utilizing a good manifold system and careful design planning, we don’t feel a re-circulating pump is necessary – and it defeats the energy conservation premise."

Wayne Suggs,
Classic New Mexico Homes

El Paso Winnelson

Ferguson Supply


Las Cruces Winnelson

Morrison Supply
Homeowners planning a new home need to consider whether they want to stick closer to eco-friendly building – a shower complete with an 11-inch rain showerhead and two additional showerheads may feel amazing but it won’t be as eco-friendly as a low flow showerhead. Homeowners will also need to decide what type of water heating system will be needed to support the bathroom fixtures.

Toilets are saving the day with new dual-flush technology – a variation of the flush toilet that uses two buttons or handles to flush different levels of water. The dual-flush toilet differs from traditional siphon-flush toilets by relying on gravity to remove waste from the toilet. In addition to the dual flush feature, the lack of siphoning also results in less water requirements to operate. Dual flush toilets employ a larger trapway (the hole at the bottom of the bowl) and a wash-down flushing design that pushes waste down the drain. Combined with the savings from using only half-flushes for liquid waste, the dual flush toilet design can save up to 68 percent more water than a conventional low flow toilet.

Once the needs, and how to accomplish those, are established, selecting bathroom fixtures can get exciting. Bathroom sinks come in a wide variety of styles from traditional to space-age modern. Pedestal and wall-hung sinks are perfect for smaller bathrooms or an elegant look in bathrooms while in-counter sinks provide additional storage and countertop space. Enameled cast iron, tempered art glass, vitreous china, semiprecious stones and stainless steel are common selections in sinks. Make sure you buy your fixtures and fittings at the same time to make sure everything will fit together.

Most conventional bathtubs are designed to fit into a recess in the bathroom with three sides hidden by walls and the fourth side is an open, finished front. Vintage claw-foot style tubs are showing up more and more to create a nostalgic look as well as the platform tub with the exposed side covered in tile or other floor-matching material to give a "sunken-tub" effect. Whirlpool tubs are the new luxury items featuring in-line heaters to maintain warmth, two-speed motors, touch-pad controls, mood lighting systems and more. Showers are now coming with multiple showerhead options, surround sound and steam capabilities. New shower modules with steam units often come with a lighted dome top, a timer and a seat.

Energy Efficient Hot Water

The elements of a bathroom; showers, tubs, heaters and lighting are all consumers of energy, which you purchase at a cost. You can have the style and comfort of a custom bathroom while reducing your bathroom energy foot-print. The first place to start is the method of heating and delivering hot water. Energy Star high efficiency units typically use up to forty percent less energy to heat your water, depending on family size and use habits.

The traditional storage water tank hot water delivery system is a thermostat controlled unit that maintains a hot water reservoir at a desired temperature and delivers hot water on demand by having the hot water pushed forward for use with the entry of new fresh water (usually cold) into the tank requiring heating. If you have a system like this, natural gas is the preferred fuel. Heating hot water in a storage tank system is very expensive when using electrical power. In storage systems, you will have standby evaporation losses due to keeping the water hot all of the time.

In the last decade, the tankless hot water heater has become common in homes. In this system the water is circulated through a large coil and heated on demand by using either gas or electricity. Again, gas is a less expensive fuel. A possible concern is that simultaneous use of hot water by multiple locations in the home may exceed the ability of the tankless hot water heater to cover many simultaneous uses. On the other hand there is an endless supply of hot water and standby losses are eliminated.

In our climate zone lots of warm air makes heat pump water heaters an option. They transfer energy from the surrounding warm air into a storage tank.

Many homeowners are opting for solar thermal hot water heating which are independent systems from electrical home sources. These units use panels with large water circulating tubes heated by the sun to deliver hot water supplies via a passive circulating system, where new water under pressure is forced through the heating tubes that are moving the heated water to the bathroom. You can also have an active system where a pump moves the heated water to a storage tank for use on demand. You still need a back up system, tankless or storage that will supply the hot water on a rare occasion. These systems are now quite affordable when federal and state energy tax credits are applied. The net result is reducing significantly the electric or gas energy required to deliver hot water for the home. Your savings annually and over the life of the home is significant. These systems should be sourced and installed by a company specializing in solar thermal hot water systems. Normally, these units can be classified as a construction expense and bundled in your mortgage. ///
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