by Carole Lombard, CSJ
WATER CONSERVATION: IN THE BATHROOM
- Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving. Save 4-10 gallons a day.
- Never use your toilet as a wastebasket. Save 3-7 gallons per flush.
- Don't take marathon showers. Five minutes will get you clean. Save 3-7 gallons per shower.
- Close your tub drain before turning on the water. Save 3 gallons or more.
- Fill your bathtub only halfway. Save 5 gallons or more.
IN THE KITCHEN AND LAUNDRY AREAS
- Install a faucet aerator. The lower flow is barely perceptible. Water consumption and the cost of heating the water can be reduced by as much as 50%.
- Fill your sink or basin when washing and rinsing dishes. Saves 8-15 gallons per day. Saves in hot water costs, too.
- Run you dishwasher only when full. Saves up to 15 gallons per load and also saves in hot water costs.
- Wash vegetables and fruit in a basin. Use a vegetable brush to remove dirt. Save 2-4 gallons per day.
- Run your garbage disposal only when necessary. Use cold water. Saves energy and reduces grease.
- Run the washing machine only when full and adjust the water level setting carefully. Washing machines use 22-25 gallons per load. Save the water for 1-2 loads every week.
How to Fix and Find Leaks: Faucets and Showerheads
Dripping, trickling, or oozing faucets and showerheads can waste from 75 to several hundred gallons of water a week depending on the size of the drip. Worn out washers are the main cause of these leaks and a new one generally costs about 25 cents. Faucets typically use 2 to 7 gallons per minute. Installing a low-flow faucet aerator can reduce the flow by as much as 25% or up to a gallon and a half per minute. Be sure to remove your aerator periodically to clean the particles that may have collected in the screen.
A Simple Test for Leaks
A leaky faucet is pretty obvious. But hidden leaks in the toilet, under the sink, or behind a washing machine can waste a gigantic amount of water. And they could be damaging your floors or ceilings too. Take a reading of your water meter. Wait an hour, making sure no one uses any water in your home. Check it again. If the reading has changed, you have at least one leak and you need to investigate.
That trickling sound you hear in the bathroom could be a leaky toilet wasting 50 gallons of water a day or more. But sometimes it leaks silently. Try this: Crush a dye tablet in its envelope and carefully empty the contents into the center of the toilet tank and allow it to dissolve. Wait about 8-9 minutes. Inspect the toilet bowl for signs of blue dye indicating a leak. If the dye has appeared in the bowl, your flapper or flush valve may need to be replaced. Parts are inexpensive and fairly easy to replace. If no dye has appeared in the 8 to 9 minutes time, you probably don't have a leak.
- Use task lighting; instead of brightly lighting an entire room, focus the light where you need it. For example, use fluorescent under-cabinet lighting for kitchen sinks and countertops under cabinets
- Consider three-way lamps; they make it easier to keep lighting levels low when brighter light is not necessary.
- Use CFLs in all the portable table and floor lamps in your home. Consider carefully the size and fit of these systems when you select them. Some home fixtures may not accommodate some of the larger CFLs.
- For spot lighting, consider CFLs with reflectors. The lamps range between 13 and 32 watts and provide a very directed light using a reflector and lens system.
- Take advantage of daylight by using light-colored, loose-weave curtains on your windows to allow daylight to penetrate the room while preserving privacy. Also, decorate with lighter colors that reflect daylight.
- Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
- Don't set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.
- Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home without greatly increasing your power use.
- Don't place lamps or TV sets near your air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses the appliances' heat, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
- Plant trees or shrubs to shade air-conditioning units but not to block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
- Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer's recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater to a lower temperature.
- Scrape, don't rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or prewashing is generally only recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food.
- Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded.
- Don't use the "rinse hold" on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It use3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it.
- Let your dishes air dry; if you don't have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster.
Refrigerator/Freezer Energy Tips
- Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. Models with this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. This is not the same thing as an "anti-sweat" heater. Models with an anti-sweat heater will consume 5% to 10% more energy than models without this feature.
- Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37° to 40°F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0°F.
- To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours. To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours.
- Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers; frost buildup increases the amount of energy needed to keep the motor running. Don't allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.
Cooking: Electric Ranges
- When using the oven, try to reduce the number of times you open the door while cooking. Each time the door is opened, the stove loses about 1/4th of its heat.
- Burner size: Match pot size to burner size on your stove top. Heat is lost and energy is wasted if burner size is larger than pot size. Also, clean range-top burners and reflectors to better reflect the heat, and save energy.
- Use pressure cookers. They use 50-75 percent less energy than ordinary cookware.
- On electric stovetops, use flat-bottomed pans that make full contact with the elements.
- Turn off the burners or the oven before the cooking is finished. It will take several minutes for the burners to lose their heat.
- Use Fresh and Organic Ingredients
- Use the microwave in place of the stove-top or oven when possible. Microwaves use between one-fifth and one-half as much energy as conventional stoves.
- Microwaves are most efficient at cooking small portions and for defrosting.
- Food cooks faster when placed on the outer edges of a rotating tray rather than in the center, allowing more microwaves to interact with the food.
- Food cooks faster in a microwave as the surface-to-volume ratio increases. When cooking potatoes, for example, thinner slices will cook faster than cubed or quartered sections.
- During warm weather, use the microwave to keep out radiant heat buildup in the kitchen.
No Trash: Recycle more!
We can reduce household waste stream between 20 - 40%, as well as reducing the energy and pollution costs associated with manufacturing more materials.
- The energy saved by recycling 1 glass bottle can light a 100-watt light bulb for 4 hours.
- Five 2-liter recycled plastic (PET) soda bottles can provide enough fiberfill for a ski jacket.
- Recycling 1 aluminum can saves enough energy to operate a TV or computer for 3 hours. Aluminum can be recycled using less than 5 percent of the energy used to make the original product. In other words, one can make 20 cans out of recycled material with the same amount of energy it takes to make one new one. In the US alone, the amount of aluminum thrown away is enough to rebuild the entire commercial air fleet every three months!
- Choose products with minimal packaging and buy in bulk.
- Avoid individually wrapped items. A jumbo box of cereal uses less packaging than several single-serving sized boxes.
- Choose durable, reusable products over single-use, disposable items.
- Use cloth napkins. Get coffee in a reusable mug.
- Reduce junk mail. Take your name off of mailing lists at http://www.mass/gov/consumer.
Reuse bags, containers packaging materials & padded envelopes.
- Donate unwanted items to charities.
- Choose items with a recycled-content label.
- Keep toxic items out of the trash.
- Reduce your use of paper.
- Be Kind to Earth
Who's Under Your Carbon Footprint? Watch the accompanying video to see how our U.S. carbon footprint falls heaviest on the world's poor people.