by Robin Layton
Parents everywhere have told a child at least a dozen times to turn off the lights in the room he or she just left.
Cutting your electric usage, and therefore your bill, is something we’d all like to do. Conserving water is also something easy to do and will benefit your community, as well as your bottom line.
The United States is second only to China in electric usage. Per capita, the U.S. uses the most water per year.
Doing our laundry accounts for about 25 percent of a household’s indoor water use.
A few ways to reduce that percentage include only doing full loads of laundry and selecting a washing machine with a volume under 4.0 cubic feet. To save on your energy bills, wash laundry during “off-peak” hours and use cold water whenever possible, according to azwater.gov. Off-peak hours are 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends.
If you have teenagers, you won’t be surprised that in an average home, showers are typically the third largest water use after toilets and clothes washers. The average American shower uses 17.2 gallons and lasts for 8.2 minutes at average flow rate of 2.1 gallons per minute.
According to the EPA, faucets and showerheads can use 33 percent of household water. This amount may be greatly reduced by installing water-efficient models. The Arizona Uniform Plumbing Code requires the flow rate of faucets and showerheads to not exceed 2.5 gallons per minute, according to azwater.gov.
Cutting back on the time spent in the shower is the obvious solution, but replacing the showerhead may prove a better bargain. Homeowners can install a low-flow showerhead, automatic faucet control, a showerhead with a temperature stop valve or a showerhead with a turn-off device. Of course, be ready for the ire of the teen who tries out the new device first.
The Arizona Department of Water Resources recommends several ways a homeowner can save on outdoor water use:
- Plant low-water use and drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees.
- Minimize turf/grass areas.
- Check all hoses, connectors and spigots regularly. Repair leaks as necessary.
- Install a water-efficient drip irrigation system.
- Regularly check sprinkler systems and timing devices to be sure they are operating properly.
- Adjust sprinklers so only landscape is watered and not the house, sidewalk or street.
- Minimize evaporation by watering during the early morning hours when temperatures are cooler.
Electrical District 2 suggests these conversation tips:
- Increasing your average thermostat setting by 1.5 degrees in summer and reducing your average thermostat setting by 1.5 degrees in winter will reduce your electric consumption by 5-6 percent.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater to 115 degrees.
- Use ceiling fans and room fans only in occupied rooms. Running ceiling fans when the heat is on actually uses more energy.
- Use curtains, shades and blinds to block the sun’s rays from directly entering the home.
- Use the cold water setting on your washing machine.
- Clean or replace HVAC filters regularly.
- Change your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. A 15-watt fluorescent bulb provides as much light as a 60-watt standard bulb. They last 10 times longer and use 75 percent less energy.
- Put your computer in “sleep mode.”
- Turn off lights and appliances when they are not being used.
- Close vents in rooms not being used on a regular basis and close the door.
- Run full loads in dishwashers and washing machines.
- Choose stove burner to fit the size of the pan you are using.