In the Bathroom
Use Less Water
One easy step is to take shorter showers. With a new, low-flow showerhead, a 7-minute shower uses less water than a full bath. Also, instead of letting the water run while shaving or brushing your teeth, run it just to wet and rinse your razor or toothbrush. Turning off the tap can save up to 2,400 gallons of water a year.
Check your faucets, and fix any leak you find. A faucet leaking at a rate of one drop per second can waste up to 3,000 gallons of water per year. That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers! Fixing hot-water leaks can save up to $35 per year in utility bills. If every household fixed just one leaky faucet, we could reduce water use in Texas by over 27 billion gallons a year. Tips on how to fix leaks. Annual Savings: $35
Install Water-Efficient Showerheads and Faucet Aerators
Showering is one of the leading ways we use water in the home, accounting for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use—for the average family, that adds up to nearly 40 gallons per day. By installing a water efficient showerhead, your family can save 2,900 gallons of water per year. In addition, replacing old, inefficient faucets and aerators can save the average family 700 gallons of water per year, equal to the amount of water needed to take 40 showers. Since these water savings will reduce demands on water heaters, they will also save energy. Annual Savings: $70
Invest in a New Water-Efficient Toilet
Toilets are the main source of water use in the home, accounting for approximately 30 percent of indoor water use. Replacing older toilets with the most water-efficient ones can save 13,000 gallons of water a year and more than $110 per year. If 25 percent of all Texas households reduced their water consumption by replacing one older toilet with a 1.28-gallon-per-flush toilet, it would reduce water consumption throughout Texas by more than 30 billion gallons annually. Annual Savings: $110
Check Toilets for Leaks
A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day–that’s 73,000 gallons a year. One way to find out if you have a leak is to place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. If your toilet is leaking, the cause is often an old, faulty toilet flapper. It's usually best to replace the whole rubber flapper—a relatively easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project that pays for itself in no time.
Run Your Bathroom Ventilation Fans
Run your ventilation fan for up to 15 minutes after showering or bathing to control moisture, reducing your use of heating and cooling energy. When replacing exhaust fans, install a properly sized ENERGY STAR fan; these are much quieter than standard models and use 50 percent less energy than standard models.
Use Less Toxic Cleaning Products
Using less toxic cleaning products can reduce pollutants in both the air and water, and may help improve the air quality in your house. The EPA’s Safer Choice program labels products that can help protect the environment and are safer for families. Cleaning products certified with the Safer Choice label means each ingredient has been screened for potential human health and environmental effects and that the product contains only those ingredients that pose the least concern among chemicals in their class.
Lower the Thermostat on Your Water Heater
The average household spends more than $250 per year on water heating, which is commonly the second-largest household energy expense behind home heating and cooling. For maximum efficiency, use an ENERGY STAR water heater, set your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees, and wrap it with an insulating jacket to reduce heat loss. To save even more, turn off electric heaters and turn down gas heaters when you’re away on vacation. Set too high, your water heater can waste anywhere from $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses and more than $400 in demand losses. Annual Savings: $461
Wash Full Loads and Use Cold Water
Washing full loads as opposed to partial loads of laundry can save an average household more than 3,400 gallons of water each year. If all Texas households washed only full loads of laundry, it would reduce water consumption throughout Texas by more than 31 billion gallons each year. Using cold water for laundry instead of hot or warm water can save the average household $30 to $40 annually, depending on the type of water heater. Annual Savings: $30 to $40
Dry Your Clothes Efficiently
Clothes dryers account for 4 percent of residential electricity consumption. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it to avoid over-drying your clothes. If you don't have this feature, try to match the cycle length and heat setting to the size and weight of the load. Dryers that operate an extra 15 minutes per load can cost you up to $34 each year. Cleaning the lint filter after each cycle improves air circulation and can save you $34 each year. Also consider air-drying clothes on clotheslines or drying racks. Annual Savings: $68