We’re in the middle of spring, so now is a great time to start optimizing your home and habits towards more eco-friendly practices. As we get closer towards summer, energy costs go up due to more air conditioning, showers and water-cooling being used. In addition to this, using any appliance will warm the house, counteracting any cooling you may attempt.
We’ll list some bath and kitchen oriented tips first:
1. Use an aerator in your faucet or showerhead.
There should be a rating in gallons per minute (gpm) on the side of the unit if you already have one. If it’s above 2.75 gpm, find a lower flow aerator. Many modern faucets will come with it pre-installed, so check your older fixtures first.
2. Install a low flow, high efficiency toilet.
Toto offers a toilet that not only uses an incredibly low gallon per flush (1.28 gpf), but also makes sure you only need one flush, so as not to become an oxymoron. They and many other companies offer a dual mode toilet as well, which uses a smaller water load for liquid waste, and a higher gpf for solid wastes. Another idea would be to install a waterless urinal if there are more men in the home than women.
3. Bathe less often and shower instead. And when you do, try limiting it to 4 minutes or less.
Yes, even if you have long hair to wash and condition.
4. Install a tankless water heater.
These do not use a hot water tank, and therefore cannot lose energy to heat evaporation. When you turn on your hot water, it passes through this unit that heats it on demand, rather than keeping a hot tank waiting. We recommend Rheem.
5. Install high efficiency ventilating units.
There are quiet, high efficiency fans made by Panasonic that cut down on energy use. They eliminate the noise problem most fans have while ventilating your bathroom. In other rooms, it’s smart to add a ceiling fan to augment whatever air conditioning you may be using for the house. These increase circulation, which may be enough to cool you down, rather than immediately resorting to temperature controls.
6. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs in your bathroom as well as the rest of your home.
CFL’s have advanced so much that they look a lot warmer now, and won’t crush your self-esteem when you look in the mirror. So the bathroom is no longer a holdout in terms of the older incandescent light bulbs.
7. Use warm or cold water to wash your clothes.
Hot water should be reserved for only the dirtiest, or oiliest stains. Everything else will turn out fine with lower temperature settings. If your washing machine doesn’t have an auto-detect in terms of washer load, fill up with each load. And if possible, get a front loader as opposed to top loader. Wash your clothes at night, rather than midday, to avoid peak energy rates.
8. Use a dishwasher, don’t hand wash your dishes.
Contrary to popular belief, dishwashers do not use that much water to clean the dishes. Newer ones are highly efficient. If your dishwasher is more than 10 years old, try to find out it’s energy rating. It’s the extra settings that you don’t need that will be more wasteful than hand washing, like power wash or heat wash. Just like the last point of advice, also try to use your dishwasher at night.
9. Insulate your home properly.
Check your windows first. These are the biggest wasters in terms of where heat gets out in the winter, and how it gets in during the summer. If you can afford it, use double paned windows. Seal any cracks around your windows and doors. Check your attic, basement and crawlspaces, and properly seal and insulate each.
10. Turn off your computer and monitor.
When you won’t be using your computer for more than ten minutes, turn off its monitor. If you’ll be gone for more than an hour, turn the whole machine off, monitor included. This goes for other appliances as well. Anything with a glowing (usually red) LED light that shines when off should be unplugged fully from the wall. If you have a lot of them in one area (like an entertainment center) use a power strip.
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