LiveGreen: Saving energy and water at home

Summer often means higher utility bills and more money out of your pocket. Spending more time at home could increase those costs, but LiveGreen has some easy tips to help you save resources and money while improving community health.

Your air conditioning (AC) unit uses a lot of energy to keep you cool but you can lower that cost by using a programmable thermostat, keeping sources of heat (lamp, TV) away from your thermostat, changing your HVAC filter regularly, vacuuming return air vents and planting the right tree/shrub in the right spot. Raising the thermostat by one or two degrees also can have an impact, and you can use a fan to keep you cool. Turn the fan off when you leave a room — fans cool people, not spaces.

Reduce the heat that your AC has to overcome and use less electricity by swapping incandescent/halogen bulbs for LEDs, turning items off and unplugging infrequently used items (consider smart strips), keeping curtains/blinds closed to direct sunlight, making sure vents aren’t blocked by furniture/toys/curtains and keeping the damper shut on the fireplace (consider a flue blocker). Turn your water heater temperature down to 120°F. It’s still plenty hot for showering and cleaning. Don’t use your oven on the hottest days. Instead, opt for the grill, toaster oven or crockpot. Dry laundry by hanging it outside (or inside) rather than using the dryer, and run your washer on the highest spin cycle possible, getting the most water out and decreasing dry time (that saves energy all year round).

Speaking of laundry, do full loads to save water, electricity, and soap. This applies to the dishwasher too. Unless your dishwasher is really old, it uses less water than handwashing, so save yourself some time and load it up. To save more water, fix drippy faucets and running toilets, install low-flow shower heads and fixtures, monitor your sprinkler system and take shorter (or maybe even fewer?) showers. For more water saving tips, check out our Every Drop Counts page.

Already an energy/water saving expert? Adding insulation to your attic, replacing windows and making sure your ducts are sealed properly will save energy and pay you back over time. Installing a tankless water heater and high-efficiency toilets and upgrading to Energy Star-rated appliances will raise your status to pro.

To learn how much you can save with these and other simple changes, check out this calculator.