The energy your household consumes is about more than just the electricity you need to operate lights and electronics. Using a great deal of water also drives up your energy usage and ultimately your utility bill, especially when it comes to heating your water. While you cant avoid all energy costs associated with using water in your home, you can reduce the amount of energy that your water use requires. Between purchasing the most energy efficient appliances and accessories, and making a daily effort to reduce your water waste, you can leave a limited impact on the environment. You will also be able to save some cash on both your water and energy bills each month.
Your water heater is among the biggest culprits when it comes to energy costs in your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, your water heater can be responsible for nearly 20 percent of your overall utility bill. Given the amount of energy they consume, water heaters should be one of the first things you check in your home when it comes to conservation of energy.
Insulating your water heater is an inexpensive investment that will yield a large return. When you insulate the hot water tank, less heat can escape from the unit. You can find a variety of insulators, which essentially serve as a jacket for your hot water tank. When covering your water heater, just remember to read the manufacturers instructions carefully its vital to install the insulation in a way that does not cover the top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment of the water tank. If youre in doubt, a professional plumber can recommend the best way to install the cover.
An on-demand water heater is the most efficient way to supply hot water to your home. These tankless models only heat water as needed, so there is no hot water reserve. This saves energy in your home, though it may make it more difficult to use hot water in more than one room unless you install a second tankless heater. With on-demand water heaters using about 30 percent less energy than a standard water heater, they can pay themselves off sooner than later even if you need more than one in your home.
Energy Star Model Appliances
Energy Star appliances are a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These models are meant to be very energy efficient, and some of the appliances available in the Energy Star family use water. For example, you can purchase a new dish water, clothes washer, or water heater, with the Energy Star standard. Energy Star has water heaters in these categories: gas tankless, high efficiency gas non-condensing, gas condensing, electric heat pump, and solar. You can identify all Energy Star appliances by a special sticker on the unit.
Energy Star appliances can be found at most major retailers, so you wont have to go out of your way to look for them when the time comes to replace your current appliance. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that you start thinking about looking for a new appliance several years before its expiration date. For instance, if your water heater is expected to last you 10 years, start looking for a new model if its more than 7 years old. This gives you room to choose a more energy efficient model and look for the best deal, as opposed to having little time to replace a failing unit because the replacement must be done as soon as possible.
Every Day Tips
Some simple changes in the way you use water in your home can conserve a great deal of energy. These changes wont always require any money or new appliances, but you will see a difference in your utility bills all the same. For instance, taking more showers than baths will conserve a great deal of water, since filling a bathtub require more water than the average shower. And, since most people like a hot shower or bath, it also conserves energy.
Using an aerating, low-flow showerhead in your bathroom is another way to save water and energy. The aerator mixes air into the water, providing the illusion of a strong water flow, while the low flow aspect of the device means that you are not actually using as much water as with a regular showerhead. These showerheads are found at most home improvement stores, and can save you around 15 gallons of water for a 10 minute shower. An aerator can also be purchased separately and will conserve some water on its own.
Looking for leaks will also save water, and it may help you save energy. National Geographic suggests that you can lose up to 10 gallons of water in a single day as the result of leaks. Leaks could be beneath a sink, inside your toilet, or stem from any number of pipes in your home. If your leak is associated with an appliance that uses energy, such as a clothes washer, you may also be wasting energy as the appliance struggles to keep the water level high enough to do its job.
When doing laundry, always adjust your machine to the appropriate load size. Asking your clothes washer to complete the cycle for a full load when youve only thrown in a few items will waste water and cause your machine to run a longer cycle than necessary. Also consider using a warm temperature cycle instead of a hot one. Front loading washers use about half the water required to run a top loading machine, so when it comes time to replace your clothes washer consider getting one that loads from the front.
Using water also consumes energy in many cases, so to conserve one its important to keep an eye on the other. Carefully consider each appliance that uses water, and look for ways to stop water waste. Not only will the environment benefit, but your wallet will thank you later.
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