We’ve compiled a list of easily implemented changes that you can take advantage of on a daily basis to save money on utility bills – while helping UC ensure that there is water for all.
In the Bathroom
On average, toilets account for nearly 30% of total home water use. Along with the shower, tub and sink, the bathroom becomes the area where the most water (and money) goes down the drain.
- Fix leaky faucets & toilets. A leaky toilet can waste 200 GALLONS of water PER DAY!
- Take showers instead of baths. A five minute shower uses 10 to 25 gallons of water, whereas a bath uses about 70 gallons.
- Install low-flow showerheads, which use a third less water than regular nozzles. The UC has been running a free low-flow showerhead exchange program since 2008!
- Install low-flow aerators on faucets.
Your Water Heater
The average household spends $400 – $600 on water heating every year. This manifests as 14-18% of your monthly utility bill. Some minor adjustments can help keep that money in your pocket.
- Turn down the thermostat to 120 degrees. This will also prevent scalding accidents.
- Assess your water heater to make sure it fits your needs. If it is too big, you’re paying to heat water that you don’t need, and it may be time to replace it.
- Insulate your hot water pipes. Water loses heat as it flows through the pipes, especially those within 3 feet of the tank. Once pipes are insulated, you’ll be able to lower the thermostat setting even more!
- Purchase an Energy Star water heater. These energy-efficient appliances will save you a lot of money throughout their lifetime.
- Insulate your water heater tank. This will help keep the water hot once it is heated.
Heating Your Home
While it seems unlikely since Florida has such a warm climate, heating costs account for a whopping 45% of an average home’s energy bill. This is the single biggest expense to your power bill over the course of a year.
- Turn down the thermostat by 5 degrees. Each degree saves 2% on your bill, so this will amount to a savings of 10%. If you can’t remember to adjust the temp, install a programmable thermostat and you can forget about it.
- Tune up your furnace. Call a professional to make sure your oil-burning furnace is operating at full capacity at least once per year. Gas furnaces should be inspected every two years.
- Check filters. Forced-air furnaces and heat pumps have filters that need to be cleaned or replaced monthly to ensure their optimum performance.
- Don’t block vents, registers, or radiators. If they are blocked by furniture, drapes or other obstructions, heat cannot circulate throughout the home, and the whole system will have to work harder.
- Wear a sweater. If you get chilly, wear a sweater or bathrobe in your home instead of turning up the thermostat. Use an extra blanket in bed at night.
In Your Yard – Irrigation
Whether you are gardening or just trying to keep your lawn from turning brown, there are ways to keep your outdoor water use to a minimum. Half of all residential water is used for landscape irrigation, so it would be wise to take inventory of your sprinkler system and other methods to make sure that they are operating efficiently.
- Have a rain sensor shut-off switch. Not only is this feature required by law, but it will also save you money by preventing unnecessary watering. Rainfall should be the foremost source of water for your plants.
- Create irrigation zones. Group together plants with similar moisture needs, so that they can be watered efficiently.
- Use the correct volume output. Make sure that you choose the correct sprinkler heads, and spacing of sprinklers so that you are not wasting water.
- Placement of sprinkler heads is key. Water should not be spraying onto sidewalks, or hitting the side of your house. Heads should also be tall enough to clear the top of your turf without being restricted.
- Make sure that your pipes are the correct size, to maintain correct pressure. Too small, and the pipes will burst due to excess pressure, causing leaks. Pipes that are too large allow larger droplets to escape the sprinkler heads, which can lead to erosion and runoff.
- Maintenance! An irrigation system is not a “set it and forget it” situation. Frequently check the items in this list and make adjustments to keep all of the elements running smoothly.
- Use controls, switches and timers. Familiarize yourself with the watering restrictions for your area, and make adjustments for rainy seasons.