Two-fold savings

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shower head

There is no doubt about it, when the season changes and the sunlight and warmth leave us, I find comfort in taking a long hot shower or a relaxing bath. In the summertime, I simply don’t have time or care to do either.

However, lately, I realize my five-minute timer keeps ringing as I stay in the shower, and the noise is an annoying reminder that I need to conserve water and get out.

Saving money

I’m actually doing more than just conserving water. I’m saving money. The electricity is used to heat the hot water; therefore, my shower costs money. The shorter the shower, the more money I save on our electric bill.

Have you ever thought of the energy used in your house, and doing a home energy audit? This audit is a basic self-awareness collection of data to see how much energy is being used in your own home and where your house is wasting energy. Then, you can find out what you can do to make changes and save energy and utility costs.

By taking the time, you can double your impact, saving energy (money) and saving water! Try these free online tools to help you get started at watercalculator.org/footprint/indoor-water-use-at-home/ and occ.ohio.gov/factsheet/home-energy-audit.

Low-flow shower head

Since we are on the shower subject, if you don’t already have one, you should consider purchasing a low-flow shower head to reduce your hot water usage.

If your home was built or remodeled after 1994, you probably have a low-flow showerhead, which flows at about 2.5 gallons per minute compared to the older standard of five gallons per minute or more.

Water heater thermostat

Now about that hot water, it has many uses in your home and heating — water uses lots of energy. Did you know your water heater might be set higher than necessary? You could save anywhere from 4-22% annually on your bill by simply setting the thermostat to 120 F. Hot water demand in your home, such as clothes washing, dishwashing, baths and showers can all add up to usage and of course, costs. Remember that the more water you use, the more money you lose.

COOL it down

It was once believed that washing clothes in warm water did the best job at getting them clean. Did you know that modern laundry detergents work well in cold water?  As mentioned earlier, many houses built since 1994 have low-flow shower heads, faucets and toilets and are much more energy efficient.

If you have a Blue-Star energy label washing machine, you’ll typically use 27 gallons of water per load compared to the standard washing machine that uses 41 gallons. So, using cold vs. warm/hot water to wash clothing conserves energy. Making sure your washer is full is another saving suggestion.

Toilets

And of course, I have to mention number one. Literally. Yes, the number one water hog in the household is the toilet. Responsible for up to 25-30% of household use, toilets are a prime target for your water reduction efforts.

A standard toilet is often the biggest water waster in the house. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, older toilets can guzzle up to six gallons of water per flush, while low-flow models use less than 1.5 GPF.

I do have to add, and I’m sure this will bring on a few chuckles, but I learned the philosophy of water conservation many years ago while visiting the Florida Keys and I have not forgotten it. So, it is worth mentioning, and I won’t go into detail, but for the sake of water conservation here it is, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.” Need I say more?

Be merry and bright

Yes, it is that time of the year when we see lights abundant all throughout the house and even outside. If you’re looking at buying new lights, replacing old ones or wanting to know more about them, simply put, remember LED. You just can’t go wrong.

The three main types of light bulbs used in homes are incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent light bulbs and light-emitting diode bulbs.

IL bulbs are inefficient. Most of the energy used by IL bulbs is transformed into thermal kinetic energy or heat energy; only 25% of the electricity is changed into light. CFL or LED bulbs are better alternatives because they use about 75% less energy and produce the same amount of light as IL bulbs.

LED bulbs last 25,000 hours on average. This makes LED 10x more efficient than the standard IL bulbs and twice as efficient as CFL lights. Switching to CFL or LED light bulbs is the easiest thing you can do to reduce the amount you pay for electricity and who doesn’t like to save money?

By the way, the US Department of Energy approved the phase-out of incandescent bulbs in favor of LEDs and compact fluorescent lighting in 2022, so that is why IL bulbs are harder to find.

Regardless of what type of light bulbs you use in your home, it is important to shut off lights when no one is in the room and enjoy the savings. Water and energy conservation are important. By modifying your habits, you will have a positive impact on the earth, its climate and its resources. May you have a very happy holiday season and rejoice with your positive savings!

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Kelly Riley has been the Education Specialist for the Wayne Soil and Water Conservation District since 2003. She earned her B.A. Degree in Education from the University of Akron and was previously a teacher with the Tri-County ESC. Kelly can be reached at (330)-262-2836 or by e-mail at kriley@wayneoh.org.

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