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 Kitchen
Cooking, cleaning and washing dishes uses a lot of water and energy, but there are things we can do to slow the flow.
- Run the dishwasher instead of washing by hand. This uses less hot water, and could save you up to $40 per year.
- Make sure that your appliances fit the size of your household. Oversized refrigerators or dishwashers are wasteful if there are only a couple of people in the house.
- Don’t run the dishwasher until it is completely full.
- Scrape leftover food off of dishes instead of rinsing them.
- Don’t let water run when rinsing fruits and vegetables. Place them in a shallow pan and fill it with water.
- Always buy Energy Star appliances. They cost less to operate and will save you money over their lifetime. Also look for high-efficiency features such as automatic shut-off.
- Install low-flow aerators on faucets. Replacing these screw-on tips can reduce the flow rate so that you use less water every time you use the faucet.
- Check regularly for leaky faucets, which can waste 1,600 gallons of water each year.
- Check the temperature in your refrigerator. If the temp is lower than 37 degrees, you are wasting money. There is no need to set your fridge lower, and the freezer should remain between 0 and 5 degrees.
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.
In the Laundry Room
Washing clothes seems like a continuous chore – you get everything clean and folded…and as soon as you get dressed for the day, the cycle begins anew. Especially in homes with children, it seems like there is always a pile waiting to be washed.
Since the washer and dryer both use energy and water, adopting a few simple habits can really rack up the savings.
- Wash full loads. This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes we are tempted to wash clothes as soon as they get dirty – this wastes a whole lot of water so it is smarter to wait until you have a full load.
- Use cold water. Lightly soiled clothes will get perfectly clean using cold water, and you won’t pay the extra heating cost. Reserve the use of hot water only for clothes that are very dirty.
- Use the high-speed spin cycle. It removes more water from your clothes before they leave the washer – so that they won’t have to spend as much time in the dryer.
- Choose an Energy Star washing machine. Appliances with this rating use 35% less water and 20% less energy than standard machines.
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.
Lighting Throughout Your Home
t’s a running theme on many a sitcom – and rings true in many of our homes. The image of Dad walking from room to room, switching off lights. Turns out he’s onto something; lighting accounts for 6% of energy costs in the average home.
- Switch to LED light bulbs. These last longer, and use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs.
- Turn off the lights! Simple – if you’re not in the room, the light doesn’t need to be on.
- Keep lights clean. If lights are covered in dust, their output can be cut by 25% – so you’ll find yourself using supplemental lighting.
- Purchase Energy Star light fixtures & lamps. These appliances use one-quarter of the energy of traditional fixtures.
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.
Outside of your Home
Your home’s protective outer shell – Sealing & insulation: An effective way to instantly lower your heating and cooling bills by 30% is by properly insulating and sealing your home.
- Caulk cracks & gaps. Caulk is the easiest way to seal air leaks. It can be used to fill any gaps less than ¼-inch wide, and is available at any hardware store.
- Weather-strip windows & doors. Sealing air gaps around windows and at the base of your doors prevents air from escaping – and also prevents outside air from getting in.
- Find a weatherization program. If you need help financing the energy-efficient upgrades to your home, the Weatherization Assistance Program can help. Check with your state energy office or come see us at the Utilities Commission for details.
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.
Water only as needed, and only before 10am, or after 4pm. Water no more than one hour per zone.
During Daylight Saving Time
Irrigation is allowed two days a week from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. Designated days:
- Wednesday & Saturday at homes that have addresses that end in an odd number or have no address
- Thursday & Sunday at homes that have addresses ending in an even number
During Eastern Standard Time
Irrigation is allowed one day a week from the first Sunday in November until the second Sunday in March. Designated days:
- Saturday at homes that have addresses that end in an odd number or have no address