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Posts Tagged ‘water efficiency’

These washing and drying tips for more efficient laundry make household chores a chance to show off your eco-consciousness!

Cold Wash Your Clothes

Did you know the average American household washes roughly 300 loads of laundry a year, and that during those loads over 90% of energy spent during a wash cycle is used just to heat the water? Seems like a pretty big deal, right? But it’s an easy solution: making a simple swap to cold water washing can eliminate 1,600 pounds of carbon dioxide annually by reducing the demand for hot water. With the exception of especially dirty items, cold water will clean your clothes just as well as hot, and almost all detergents are formulated to work in cold and warm water.

More Efficiency Tips for Washing

In the market for a new washer? Make the most of each load with Energy Star washers. Newer, more efficient washers (and dryers) will use considerably less energy (about 25% less) and much less water (about 40% less). Best of all, you can reap the rewards each month with an average savings of $40. Other ways to reduce: wash full loads of laundry to maximize energy and water use. Be sure to check with state and federal rebates to see if you efficient washer can save you even more cashola.

water efficiency

Here’s another green tip: if your gym clothes or towels have that special je ne sais quoi musty stank, add half cup of white vinegar along with your laundry soap to each load. It will eliminate the stink and work as a natural fabric softener too! And, don’t worry — the vinegar washes out, so you won’t smell like a pickle!

folding drying rack

a simple indoor folding drying rack

Line Dry Your Laundry

The second step in greener laundry care is to reduce the amount of time needed for the dryer — or perhaps eliminate using it at all! You can keep your laundry vibe sparkling green by hanging your clothes to dry instead of using the machine. How much impact could it have? Dryers, all by their lonesome, use an average of 6% of total household energy. In California, an average dryer costs roughly between $0.35-$0.70 cents/hour for electric and $0.12 cents/hour for gas, which adds up quickly throughout the month, especially with a bigger household.

A better solution is to set up an indoor or outdoor clothesline, or invest in a small folding drying rack. Line drying your clothing not only reduces your energy costs, it also keeps your clothes in better shape for the long haul. Ever thought about what’s coming out of the lint trap? Those are teeny pieces of your clothes! And if hung properly, clothes will stay wrinkle free.  And, if you have the advantage of strong sunlight, your whites will get naturally bleached.

More eco tips for your laundry

If your line-dried clothes don’t dry properly due to humid or rainy conditions and acquire that not-so-delightful musty smell, toss them into the dryer for 10 minutes on low heat with some plain old baking soda. Dry, fresh clothes will be yours!

Can’t make a clothesline work in your space? Here are some sustainable solutions for drying clothes if you do need to keep the dryer in action:

Infographic from NRDC, rack image from Amazon

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water efficiency for showers

Shower better, not less often.

Is showertime your happy place? Who doesn’t love the relaxing, steamy experience of a hot morning or evening shower? Sorry to rain on your parade, but showers account for a whopping 17% of indoor water use. That’s an average of 40 gallons of water each day for a typical US family, which translates to 1.2 trillion gallons of water a year in the United States.

But we want you to keep up with the showering… just in a much more efficient and sustainable way. Learning how to save water will help you save money on energy and water bills, and reduce the overall water footprint of your home.

Here are some simple and affordable changes to reduce your water usage:

  • The easiest option, especially for those who really LOVE their shower, is to install water-efficient shower heads. The EPA’s WaterSense label designates products that ensure efficient water use in your home. Standard shower heads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute (GPM), while qualifying WaterSense shower heads don’t use more than 2.0 GPM; newer shower heads can get as low as 1.25 GPM with no change to pressure or flow. Quick installation of water-efficient shower heads in your home can immediately save money and water. How much? EPA estimates the average household savings at 2,900 gallons of water a year, or 370 kilowatt hours of electricity, equivalent to 13 days of power.

showerbetter-infographic

  • If you don’t want to spend the upfront cash for efficiency upgrades, the second best solution is to just take shorter showers. If an average shower in the US is 8 minutes long and the flow of a standard shower head is 2.5 GPM, that’s 20 gallons of water just for one shower. Cutting down your shower time to 5 minutes or less can go a long way towards reducing your energy and water bill.
  • Does your shower take forever to warm up? If so, you might want to think about installing a thermostatic shut-off valve. This nifty gadget is easy to install and helps minimize wasted energy and water by limiting water flow once your water reaches 95° or hotter. Just pull a cord to turn the flow back on when you’re ready to jump in!
  • If you’re in the process of designing a new home, on-demand water heaters are a great option. These small gas or electric gadgets heat water instantly on the spot, so there’s no energy or water wasted.
  • Wondering if it’s more water efficient to take a shower or bath? We can’t argue with the luxury of a bath, but it is, indeed, a luxury. Assuming you have switched to water efficient showerheads, showers will always win for the lowest amount of water usage. If you can’t give up your bubbles, Umbra from Grist advises readers create their own “water offsets” by practicing taking shorter showers or skipping a shower now and then to justify the time in the tub.

Here are some more resources for water efficiency:

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water wise yard drip irrigation

Drip irrigation saves water and reduces runoff

As climate change threatens to make both energy and water resources increasingly scarce, it’s important to find ways to reduce water usage and thus reduce our energy needs — making the drop to watt connection. According to research, over 12 percent of all US energy consumption is directly related to water use. There are dozens of easy green ways to commit to reducing both energy and water in your yard and garden.

Committing to a greener land-scaping plan is one of the ways we can make a big difference in our water-energy use. An average lawn uses 10,000 gallons of water a year (not including rainfall). Taking steps to redesign your yard to include more native, drought-resistant plants, instead of (or in addition to) grass, is a wonderful way to reduce your water usage and keep your landscape beautiful. Native plants adapted to your region’s climate and soil require much less upkeep, are resistant to pests and diseases, and can help with erosion. Building a yard of native plants can help reduce pesticides and fertilizers, leading to a healthier ecosystem for other plants and animals too.

water wise yard

A water-wise yard can include a variety of plants and features.

Not ready to redesign the landscape just yet? There are still plenty of ways you can ensure your garden makes the most of its water. When possible, nuture old growth. Maintain those plants and trees already rooted in your yard to reduce the resources, nutrients, and water to needed to establish new vegetation. When choosing new items, focus on trees and shrubs when possible. Bigger plants can absorb more rainfall, reduce runoff, and absorb larger amounts of carbon dioxide (bonus: your trees can discourage your nosy neighbors from peeking in). Reduce runoff and erosion by adding compost and mulch to your soil. Compost will enrich your soil for healthier, happier plants, and work as a carbon sink for your yard.

Changing up your watering techniques can be instrumental in saving water too. When possible, it’s better to do the work of watering yourself. It’s much more efficient to manually water your plants with a garden hose or watering can; take a happy, meditative gardening break to give your little greens some water. The EPA estimates that you generally use 33% less water doing it yourself, rather than through an irrigation system. If manual watering is too impractical for your schedule and you have the spare funds, use an automatic irrigation system, specifically a drip irrigation or a water-efficient spray head, which are the most effective in getting water straight to the roots. The final tip: hopefully you’re an early bird, because the best time to water your plants is in the morning. It’s the coolest time of day, best for optimal absorption and decreased evaporation. Be mindful of the changing seasons, changing your watering routine as rainfall, heat and humidity change throughout the year.

The tips above will have you well on your way to a water-wise yard, and the great resources below can help you build a flourishing backyard ecosystem.

drip irrigation image from Flickr Creative Commons; xeriscape yard image from EPA

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