How to Conserve Water & Electricity in Your House

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Small changes in daily habits can save water and electricity in the home, reducing household expenses and conserving the environment. The biggest consumers of water and electricity include toilets, water heaters and consumer electronics, but using washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and other appliances more efficiently also reduces water and electricity bills. WaterSense- and Energy Star-labeled products help consumers conserve water and electricity.

Saving and Switching Off

Being smart about using toilets, water heaters and consumer electronics offers water and electricity savings. Toilets use about 30 percent of the water in a home, and electric water tanks account for about 13 percent of a household's electricity bill. Replace an old toilet with a dual-flush model when remodeling to save up to 20 percent of water, and wrap insulation around a water tank and around the pipes for 3 to 6 feet after they leave the tank, leaving the thermostat clear, to further reduce costs. Televisions, computers, sound systems and other consumer electronics use up to 15 percent of household electricity. Turn off electronic equipment fully when not in use, and unplug power adapters and battery chargers.

Washing and Drying

Households that wash and dry efficiently save water and electricity. A five-minute shower uses 5 to 15 fewer gallons of water than filling a bath, and low-flow shower heads use even less water. Fill a basin only partially to rinse your razor when shaving, and turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Wash only full loads in a washing machine to save up to 3,400 gallons of water a year, and wash clothes in cold water whenever possible -- 90 percent of the electricity washing machines use heats water. Air-dry clothes on a drying stand, or use a dryer only for full loads, cleaning the lint trap at every use. Scrape dishes instead of rinsing them when filling a dishwasher, and only run it when full. Use the air-dry option, or stop the machine and open the door when the rinse cycle has finished.

Cooking and Cooling

Changing how you cook and keep your food and yourself cool at home conserves electricity. Cook meals in a microwave, slow cooker or toaster oven, and avoid using an oven when possible. If you do use an oven, avoid opening the door until your food is cooked because this lowers the temperature 25 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (14 to 42 degrees Celsius). Keep your freezer full to use it most efficiently, and take food out to defrost in the refrigerator the day before instead of holding it under hot running water to thaw. Close curtains, blinds, windows and doors on hot sunny days to keep your home cool. Turning air conditioning thermostats up 5 degrees Fahrenheit reduces cooling costs 3 percent to 5 percent over eight hours.

Upgrading and Doing Without

When your appliances are due for replacement, buy WaterSense and Energy Star models to cut down on water and electricity use. WaterSense and Energy Star products use water and electricity efficiently, and include items such as washing machines, dishwashers, televisions, toilets and light bulbs. WaterSense-labeled products have been independently certificated to use water at least 20 percent more efficiently than other average products, and Energy Star products include compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use 75 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs and last six to 10 times longer. Also ask yourself whether you really need a replacement. If your freezer is constantly understocked, it isn't using electricity efficiently, so try to manage without one for a while.

References

About the Author

A graduate of Leeds University, Jenny Green completed Master of Arts in English literature in 1998 and has been writing about science since 2007. Green's work appears in Synonym, Sciencing, and other websites and ezines

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