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April 2013


Volume 60


Number 4 Examine Energy and Water use on Earth Day


This year’s Earth Day will be Monday, April 22, marking the 44th year of the event’s observance.


Since 1970 Earth Day has been held annually as a time to examine our use of the earth’s resources and consider ways that we can be better stewards of the earth by being more efficient. Certainly, finding ways to use electricity more efficiently can result in savings on our electric bill... and more dollars in our pocket!


This year for all of us who live in drought-striken Texoma, finding ways to save on our water use is also especially important.


Following are some Earth Day tips for using electricity and water more wisely. Some are simple things that we can do on a daily basis. Others require initial investments but can result in substantial savings.


Turn off appliances and lights when you leave the


room. It’s the simplest, most effective way to conserve. Use the microwave to cook small meals. It uses far less power than the oven.


Plant trees around your house strategically (on the south and west sides; shading the A/C unit, if possible) to save up to $250 a year on heating and cooling. Replace incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star qualified Compact Flourescent (CFL) light bulbs. CFL bulbs use about 75 percent less electricity and last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescents. Close blinds and drapes during the day to keep heat out. Sun streaming into a home warms up the space and makes the A/C work harder.


Keep drinking water in the refrigerator instead of let- ting the faucet run until the water is cool.


Dust the coils underneath or on the back side of your


refrigerator. Accumulated dust can cause the motor to over- heat and cost more to run. To clean, unplug the appliance and use a long-handled brush or your vacuum to carefully remove dust.


Don’t let the water run while shaving or brushing


teeth. Leaving the tap running during two minutes of brushing can waste up to five gallons of water. Wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate water level/load selection size on the washing machine. The average washing machine uses 40.9 gallons of water. New energy-efficient machines use less than 28 gallons of water per load and clean just as well.


Wash clothes in cold water. Many detergents are for- mulated to clean as well in cold water as warm. Use soaker hoses or trickle irrigation systems for trees


and shrubs.


Install a programmable thermostat. This can save an estimated $150 yearly if preset to cool your home’s air or pump up the heat (such as before you get home from work). Some new thermostats can even be controlled remotely from smart phones!


Repair all water leaks. A leaky toilet can waste 200 gal- lons of water a day.


Replace your old showerhead with a WaterSense rated showerhead. For every 10 minute shower, this could save up to 25 gallons of water.


Consider replacing old toilets with new efficient


ones. Older toilets can use from 3.5 to 7.0 gallons per flush – real water hogs. Since 1992 toilets have been mandated to use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. Some early low-flow toilets often did not work well, but most new ones work very well.


Set the air conditioner at 78 degrees. (At 73 degrees, you will pay 40 percent more in energy costs!). If raising the temperature that much is a problem, try nudging it upwards just a couple of degrees every few days until you and your family gradually adjust. Weather-strip or caulk doors and windows, and don’t forget to weatherstrip inside doors that lead to uninsulated areas like your garage or attic.


Unplug or truly turn off electronics when not in use. Electronics and appliances can use electricity even when not being used. Known as phantom power, the loss accounts for 5-8 percent of the average consumer’s electric bill. Consider plugging them into a smart surge protector. If you switch them off when leaving home or before bed, you save energy. Fix dripping faucets. A drop per second wastes 192 gal- lons per month!


Replace old inefficient appliances. Although that is a substantial expense, it can make a big difference in your en- ergy bill! Replacing a pre-1990 refrigerator with a new Energy Star one saves enough money to light an average house for nearly four months!


Run your dishwasher only when it is full and run the “air dry” cycle if possible. Running a fully loaded dishwash- er, without prerinsing, can use a third less water than washing them by hand. And by using the air-dry setting (instead of heat-dry), you will consume half the amount of electricity.


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