According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), conserving water and electricity has a host of benefits for the community. A reduction in water consumption alleviates the strain on drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. It also cuts electricity costs, as providing drinking water and wastewater services accounts for three to four percent of our total national energy consumption, approximately $4 billion.
1. If you are interested in saving water and electricity in your home, a good place to start is by evaluating what consumes the majority of these resources. The Department of Energy (DOE) offers an Appliance Energy Calculator, which allows users to estimate the amount of energy consumed by each of their appliances. By evaluating your electronics to see which ones are responsible for the most energy usage, you can learn what appliances could benefit from an upgrade to more efficient models.
2. Studies show that heating and cooling accounts for almost half of the total energy usage in your home. According to the DOE’s Energy Saver consumer site, by simply adjusting your thermostat while you’re away from home or asleep, you can easily save on your electrify bill. The best way to do this is by installing a programmable thermostat. DOE’s Energy Saver site on thermostats offers information regarding how, when, and by how much to adjust your thermostat in order to save the most money.
3. Keeping the temperature in your home regulated is another way to save on electricity. You can start by ensuring that your house is well-insulated and that your air-conditioning system is running efficiently. This includes changing your air filter on a regular basis, as a dirty filter forces your equipment to work harder, running up your power bill. Check that none of your furniture, rugs or drapes are blocking your vents. Close the damper on your fireplace to keep air from escaping out the chimney and use ceiling fans instead of your air-conditioner when possible.
4. Washers and dryers are also among the top energy consuming appliances in your home. Traditional top-load washing machines can use up to 54 gallons of water per load of clothes. Upgrading to a more efficient front-load washing machine cuts water usage back to only seven gallons per load. In addition to saving water, high-efficiency washing machines use less power and cut back on drying times because their spin cycle leaves less water in your clothes.
5. Another tip is to always wash your laundry in cold water, as the EPA Blog states
that 90 percent of the energy your washing machine uses goes to heating water. Unless otherwise specified by the clothing label, by washing your clothes on cold using a cold water laundry detergent, you can save up to $40 a year.
6. As far as water consumption is concerned, this table at WaterCalculator.Org breaks down the total household water usage in the US, with the toilet coming in at number one. Using 33 gallons of water per day, our toilets are responsible for almost 25 percent of all water usage. One method of saving on water is to upgrade your toilet to a more efficient model. If your city is partnered with the WaterWise program, you’ll be eligible for a rebate just for upgrading. Investing in low-flow plumbing fixtures can also help you conserve water. These fixtures include toilets, faucet aerators and showerheads.
7. Get rid of any “energy vampires” in your home. According to the Department of Energy, “energy vampires” are appliances that continue to draw power from electrical outlets, even when turned off or idle. The top energy vampires in the home include: computers and related equipment (routers, modems); cable or satellite boxes ;“instant-on” televisions; kitchen appliances, such as coffee pots, microwaves and toasters, hair dryers and curling irons; and anything with a clock. Plugging your appliances into a power-strip that’s easy to turn off is a quick way to save energy.
8. When lighting your home, purchase LED bulbs instead of the traditional incandescent or halogen light bulbs. While LED bulbs cost more than traditional bulbs, they use significantly less energy and last for up to 50,000 hours, making for cheap electricity in the long run.
9. Be conscientious while running your faucets. Turn the water off while you are brushing your teeth, a habit which may be hard to implement at first. You can also save on water by taking shorter showers. The Sustainability website at Boston University states that an average shower uses around five gallons of water per minute, meaning that if you were to shorten your shower time by two minutes, you could save 10 gallons of water. You can reduce your water consumption even more by turning the shower off while soaping.
10. Stop inefficient energy practices, such as leaving on the light once your exit a room. Most inefficient energy practices are just bad habits we’ve developed, such a leaving the faucet running while brushing your teeth. Think of clever ways to break these bad habits, such as leaving a post-it note on your bathroom mirror reminding you to turn off the faucet. Other tips include only washing clothes or running the dishwasher when they are full.
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