You Don’t Need to Suffer to Save!
Dear Consumer Advisor,
I know we’re in a drought, and that I need to conserve water. And in the hot climate I live in, I’m always looking for ways to keep my electricity usage down during the summer months. Are there ways I can save both water and energy at the same time? Without being too uncomfortable? I’m ready to conserve, but don’t want to end up hot and dry.
You’re right that conserving water and conserving energy go hand-in-hand. The production of energy requires water, and the extraction and delivery of water require energy. So every drop of water you save saves energy, and vice versa.
On the home front, there are some specific strategies you can use to cut your own usage – and bills. Remember, our tiered electric rates reward you for conserving! Saving energy and water will not only lower your bills, it is also a great way to make your environmental footprint a little smaller.
Think of baths as an occasional treat and stick to showers. The average bath uses 35 to 50 gallons of water, whereas a 10-minute (or less) shower with a low-flow showerhead only uses 25 gallons.
Take shorter showers
Spend less time in the shower. If you lose track of time, bring a radio into the bathroom and time yourself by how many songs play while you’re in there. Try to get your shower time down to one song.
Use your washing machine and your dishwasher only when they are filled to capacity – don’t waste water and energy on less than a full load.
Pool covers prevent evaporation so you’ll save water every day you use one- and reduce the amount of time you need to run your pool filter. If you want to keep the pool cool, just leave about 10% uncovered.
Go Low Flow
Conventional faucets flow as high as 3 gallons per minute, twice as much as low-flow faucets. Low-flow taps are easy to put into your existing faucet or showerhead, and will reduce usage without any noticeable inconvenience. Expect big savings for this small investment of time and money.
- Pipes: If your hot water pipes are easy to locate or access, insulate them! Water will arrive at the faucet 2 to 4 degrees warmer, which means you won’t have to wait as long for it to heat up, thus saving energy, water, and money. Inexpensive insulation comes in 6-ft.-long, self-sealing sleeves that easily slip over pipes.
- Water Heaters: Insulating blankets are also easy to install and inexpensive ($20). Most new models come already insulated- check the label to see if your water heater has an R-value of at least 24. If not, you should dress it in an insulating blanket. Be careful not to block the thermostat on an electric water heater or the air inlet and exhaust on a gas unit.
If You Are Purchasing A New Appliance, Here’s How to Save:
When purchasing a new dishwasher, look for one offering several different cycles. This will allow you to select more energy and water efficient cycles when heavy duty cleaning is not required.
When in the market for a new machine, consider a high efficiency model that will use an average of 30% less water and 40-50% less energy. The same goes for clothes washers.
Your electric company may offer rebates for energy efficient washing machines, pool pumps and other appliances. Some water companies offer rebates as well. Be sure to check with yours for requirements and how to apply.