When it comes to saving energy, people often think of the big projects that require extensive resources. While those bigger projects are great to take on if you’ve got the time and money, for some they’re just not feasible. With that in mind, we wanted to share a few small things that can add up to make a big difference!
You likely know the easy ones – turning off the lights when you leave a room and keeping doors closed to stop energy from escaping – so we wanted to take it to the next level. Check out these five tips:
- Drop it like it’s hot. Water heaters are the second largest energy expense in the home, and most people have the temperature set too high on theirs. Lower your water heater’s temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to save energy and reduce its impact on your wallet. It’s a simple, yet effective way to save!
- Line ‘em up. The temperatures are getting warmer outside, so what does that mean? It means you can use a clothesline or drying rack to dry your clothes, rather than your dryer. On average, a clothes dryer accounts for 39% of the energy used at home, so by cutting down on the amount you use it, you’ll save big money. Not only that, your favorite pair of jeans will last longer, too.
- Sun Block. No, we’re not talking about wearing sunscreen – we’re suggesting that you close your blinds or other window coverings to help keep you home cooler. The less your air conditioning unit runs, the more you save! And, when fall comes and it starts to cool down outside, you can open those window coverings. In the fall/winter the heat from the sun can help keep your home warmer.
- Quittin’ time. Are you one of those people that leaves their computer turned on all the time? We don’t want to sound like your parents, but … STOP IT! Not only will it help reduce the amount of energy that your system uses, it’ll help your electronics last longer too.
- Weathertight. If you can see any daylight or feel air coming through any of your doors or windows, you’re wasting energy. Use materials like weather stripping, draft guards, and caulking to seal the cracks and keep the outside air from coming in. Who knows? You might even stop a bug or two from finding their way in, too! Quick tip: If you close a dollar bill in a door or window and it slides out easily, it’s not sealed well enough.
Take our advice – the five tips listed above are worth the time and resources that you’ll put toward them. And, if you’re hungry for more, we’ve got more where these came from! Visit Lose-A-Watt online for more simple ways to save energy and conserve in your home. You could even use the Lose-A-Watt app which is where we grabbed these tips from. With the app, you’ll be able to record your actions and compete against your friends and neighbors.
Happy landscaping season! Spring is the best time to start your landscaping projects, and to get your plants in the ground. While we encourage you to personalize and beautify your home’s yard, we also wanted to put in a plug about approaching the project with your conservation hat on. Check out these great tips to get your landscape to help save water and energy.
If you’re re-landscaping:
Did you know that on average, a well-designed landscape can save enough energy and water to pay for itself within eight years? It can help lower maintenance costs, reduce water use, decrease noise and air pollution, and cut heating and cooling costs. Here are a few things to consider:
- Use solar power as much as possible. You could use solar powered walkway lights to illuminate your sidewalks after dark, instead of using a porchlight. You might also consider switching your outdoor light fixtures to some that are completely solar powered.
- LED lightbulbs are the most efficient type of lightbulb. For the amount of use that 42 incandescent lightbulbs and $352 gives you, one LED bulb can get the same amount of use at a total cost of $86. The City of Fort Collins has been working with residents to switch out the lightbulbs on their porches to LED – if they haven’t hit your neighborhood yet, they’re bound to soon!
- Motion sensor lights can help save energy by only turning on when people approach your home. Consider switching your outdoor lights over to motion sensors to help save energy and money.
- Consider planting deciduous trees near your home. They’ll shade it from the sun and reduce your energy costs in the summer, and will let the sunlight in during the winter.
- Improve the soil in your yard. By adding two to three cubic yards of organic matter for every 1,000 square feet of landscape area, your soil can better absorb and retain water.
- Hand water you plants. Doing this will lessen your changes of overwatering your plants, gives you less equipment to maintain, helps you cater to each of the different plants in your yard, and even reduces the chance of fungal disease.
- Consider switching to high-efficiency nozzles and switching to drip irrigation for any areas of your yard that doesn’t have grass. That way, you’re not using more water than you need.
- Choose sprinklers and irrigation systems that are appropriate for each type of plant that you’re using. This will ensure that each type of plant (tree, shrub, flower, and ground cover) are getting the right amount of water without overwatering.
- Limit the amount of grass in your yard. If you’ve got grass in your yard that you struggle to keep alive each year, or if it’s in area that’s hard to irrigate without causing runoff, consider removing it. Turf is great for some purposes – but only keep it where you need it.
- Choose plants that require less water, and put plants that require similar amounts of sunlight and water together in the same area.
- Add two to four inches of mulch to areas where you’re adding plants. Not only will it help conserve the moisture in the soil, it’ll help control those pesky weeds and add interest to your landscaping.
If you’re not planning to make any landscaping changes to your yard, don’t worry! There are still some things you can do to help conserve:
- Raise the height of your mower’s blade. Keeping the grass a bit longer helps to shade the ground, the surrounding grass, and retain more water.
- Water your grass and plants after sundown when there is less wind, the temperature is cooler and evaporation rates are lower.
- Turn on your exterior lights only when needed to help conserve energy. If you’ve got some extra money in your budget, it would also a great idea to switch out the bulbs in those lights to CFL or LED.
- Get a free sprinkler system audit for your yard – it’ll help you save water by using your system more effectively. You’ll get an evaluation of your system, a watering schedule, insight into finding leaks in your system, and will even learn how to keep the vegetation in your yard healthy all summer. This audit is free for Fort Collins Utilities water customers, go here to sign up now.
Summer is almost here, so get out there and enjoy your yard! Get more energy saving tips online via Lose-A-Watt and FortZED, and leave us a comment to let us know what your favorite energy or water saving technique is for your yard.