Whether you live in a drought-prone area, want to reduce your utility bills, or wish to simply lower your environmental footprint this summer, there are many small adjustments you and your family can make to reduce your water and energy use.
Water You Waiting For?
Depending on where you live, you may not have given your water habits much thought. That makes statistics like these eye opening.
Shortening your shower by five minutes can save 12 gallons of water a day.
Brushing your teeth without water running can save up to four gallons a minute.
Adjusting sprinklers for leaks and overspray can save over 50 gallons a day.
Covering your swimming pool saves hundreds of gallons in evaporation monthly.
Here are some small shifts in your everyday routines that can get the savings flowing in your household without added investment.
When waiting for the water to heat up to the appropriate temperature, place a bucket under the faucet to capture the cold water flow. It can be used later to water your plants, which is especially resourceful when sprinkling restrictions are in effect.
Try to run your dishwasher and washing machine only when you have a full load. This is both more water and energy efficient. By the way, dishwaters typically use less water than doing dishes by hand.
When you do rinse dishes, use short blasts instead of simplifying running water, throughout the entire clean-up process.
Reuse pasta water—after it cools off—to water plants. Plants can also benefit from the errant ice cubes that the icemaker periodically shoots across your kitchen floor.
Consider using a broom instead of a hose when cleaning your outdoor walkways and driveway.
Watts Worth Watching
Energy-efficient moves can also help contain utility bills. While adding insulation to your walls and attic, buying programmable thermostats, and replacing appliances with models that have higher efficiency ratings are all great steps, these less expensive actions can also make a difference.
Clean your air conditioner filters at least monthly.
Choose the cold cycle of your washing machine instead of warm or hot water.
Lower your shades, close blinds, or pull your curtains to block drafts during high heat hours.
When running your air conditioner, keep the fan on. It lessens the load for the unit and keeps the room temperature more stable.
Turn off lights and electronics when not in use. Also, unplug appliances like coffeemakers and toasters, because even when they are off, they can still draw “phantom” power. When you are on vacation use timers or consider installing a smart lighting system that you can control remotely.
Training yourself and your family members to regard unnecessary water and power consumption as money that is literally going down the drain may take some time before it becomes a habit. As an incentive, you may want to keep track of the savings your combined efforts produce and use that amount toward a summer-ending family outing on Labor Day weekend, like a trip to a water park!