As we kick off the Great Lakes United TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE 2010®, we are focused more than ever on the idea of conservation. When talking about the Great Lakes, water conservation immediately comes to mind, but energy conservation is extremely beneficial as well. The fact is that water and energy consumption are tied to each other in a very fundamental way. We expend enormous amounts of energy heating, pumping and treating water for consumption and industrial use. We also use large amounts of water in creating energy (think of the water used to collect oil from the tar sands). What this connection between water and energy means is that conserving one will help conserve the other. This is hopeful news and a strong argument for choosing to conserve both water and energy this summer.
Taking a bit of time at the beginning of the season to prepare for summer can help save you money while reducing your energy and water use. Using any or all of the following tips will help you enjoy your summer knowing that you have done your part to conserve our precious resources.
Summer Conservation at Home and at Work
The following tips will help you conserve energy around your home and office this summer. Lower energy costs are a benefit to you and the environment, so take some time to make a few changes and get on track for conservation this summer!
Raise room temperature just a few degrees. It reduces the amount of energy required to operate your air conditioning system, lowering the overall demand for energy and saving you money on your electric bill. If you don’t have control over your temperature settings (in an apartment building or at work), contact your building’s manager and ask that they make the change. Depending on the size of your space and your air conditioning system, the total energy saved could be significant.
Recycle that second refrigerator. Chances are the money you’re trying to save by stocking up and storing food in that second fridge is going straight to your utility bill. Unplugging and recycling that second fridge will reduce your energy consumption by a whopping 9 percent! And help your other fridge run more efficiently by cleaning coils on the back give it some “breathing room” by pulling it slightly away from the wall.
Do dishes and laundry after 8pm. Power utilities have lots of extra capacity at night, even when summer energy use is at its peak. By using power hungry appliances in the evening, you’ll be doing your part to take strain off the system during the day.
Power down your computer when you aren’t using it. Make sure you use a power bar for your computer and all of your peripheral devices and turn it off when the computer is not in use. While you are using your computer, make sure the energy saving mode is on and the computer will save energy by putting the computer and monitor “to sleep” when you step away from it.
Maximize energy savings during summer hours. If your company has Friday’s off or reduced hours on Friday during the summer months, make sure the air conditioning, lights and equipment such as computers and copiers are turned off—no sense wasting that energy on empty offices. The same goes for weekends!
Outdoor Tips for Water Conservation
Monitor watering amounts. In the summer, lawn watering and other outdoor uses can account for up to 50 percent of home water use. Studies show that as much as half of this outdoor use is wasteful. As a general rule, 2 to 3 cm of water per week is adequate.
Use water-wise plants. Native and adaptive plants will thrive in your climate without watering and be resistant to local plant diseases and pests. There are even types of grass that need less water than others (buffalo grass is a great example). Native plants also attract more birds, butterflies and other wildlife to your garden.
Wash your car with a bucket of water. Using a running hose to wash your car can waste about 400 litres of water. Using a bucket with a sponge plus a trigger nozzle on the hose will save you about 300 of those litres.
Use low-angle or pulsating sprinklers that produce large fat droplets of water. Sprinklers that spray the water high into the air or produce a mist or fine spray lose much of the water through evaporation. Soaker hoses are also an efficient way of getting water to your plants’ roots.
Check your sprinkler or irrigation systems regularly for any leaks, and fix them.
Be sure your hose has an automatic shutoff nozzle to ensure water is not wasted when the hose is left unattended.
Use a rain barrel. If you choose to wash down your outdoor driveways and sidewalks, use water from a rain barrel that you place on your property. Rain barrels are an inexpensive and easy way to collect water and use it before it returns to the soil.