Water Conservation & Health and Safety Improvements

Water Conservation

By reducing your household water use, you not only conserve water and reduce your water bill, but you also help to reduce the energy required to pump and treat public water.  Currently, about 8% of U.S. energy demand goes to treating, pumping, and heating water.  Water heating also accounts for 19% of home energy use.  Conserving water can also extend the life of your septic system or prevent water pollution to nearby lakes and rivers.

  1. To save water, try to wash full laundry loads whenever possible, or reduce the level of water appropriately.  ENERGY STAR appliance use less water and energy.
  2. Save water by scraping your dishes, instead of rinsing them, before loading the dishwasher.  Run your dishwasher with a full load, and use the air-dry option if possible.  Dishwashers, typically use less water than washing dishes by hand.
  3. Repair any faucet leaks; a leaky faucet can waste gallons of water.  Remember to check your outdoor faucets as well.  Use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks.  Read the meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being use (like overnight).  If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak. One drip per minute adds up to 5 gallons per day.  Toilet leaks can be silent!  Be sure to test your toilet for leaks by putting food coloring in the tank.  If it seeps into the bowl without flushing after 30 minutes, you have a leak.
  4. A 5-minute shower can use less water than a full bath, which requires up to 70 gallons of water.  Installing a low-flow shower head will further improve its efficiency.  WaterSense labeled fixtures perform as well or better than their less efficient counterparts.
  5. Landscape with species that are native to your region and reduce your turf grass areas.  Plant in the spring and fall, when watering requirements are lower.  Redirect your downspouts to water your plants and trees, or fill a rain barrel.
  6. Insulate hot water pipes.  This gets the hot water to the user quicker, reducing the amount of water wasted, and decreasing your utility bills.
  7. Install a pressure-regulating valve to reduce the pressure of water entering your house to 60 psi.  This helps with leaks, saves water and money, and can lower the chance of damage from burst pipes.

Resources

http://eartheasy.com/live_water_saving.htm

http://www.epa.gov/greenhomes/ConserveWater.htm

http://wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/

http://www.h2ouse.org/

Health and Safety

Some of the electric, heating and water conservation tips introduced in this Conservation Series, such as adjusting the temperature on your water heater, are health/safety measures as well.

  1. Dehumidifiers can remove excess moisture from the air.  It is common to have excess moisture in your basement, as well as your kitchen and bathroom.  Ideally, the comfortable and healthy range of relative humidity is between 30 and 50%.  This will also prevent mold growth in your home.
  2. Install an ENERGY STAR kitchen range hood and bathroom fans to help control moisture and remove odors.
  3. Remember to clean the lint trap before every load of laundry.
    Replace old smoke alarms, and test your alarms monthly.  Install carbon monoxide detectors, especially near the bedrooms.
  4. Install child-safety devices, such as stair gates, cabinet locks, and window guards if children live in or frequent the home.
  5. Test your home for radon, an odorless gas that causes lung cancer.  This is a simple, and often, free test, and especially important to do in Pennsylvania, where radon levels are notoriously high.  Radon levels vary from house to house, so don’t trust a test your neighbor may have done.
  6. Test your home for lead-based paint if it was built before 1978, and learn about ways to remediate it if necessary.  Pennsylvania has a PA Lead and Healthy Homes Program.
  7. Chose products that are environmentally friendly, including low-VOC paint.  Volatile Organic Compounds degrade the air quality in your home.
  8. Reduce allergens in your home by making sure it is free of dust, mold, and smoke.  Using HEPA filters in your vacuum will remove the most allergens.
  9. Ensure your drinking water is safe by calling your local municipality or testing it, if necessary.
  10. Landscape with native vegetation to reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers.  If you must use these products, be sure to remove your shoes before enter the house, and wash your clothing separately after applying them.

Resources

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/healthy_homes

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