Telecommuting for a while?

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Take Care of Texas
man sitting at desk with laptop holding coffee cup

Like many of your fellow Texans, you may be spending more time at home while practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. During this time, we encourage you and your family to conserve resources and reduce your waste. This is also a perfect opportunity to teach children about the importance of environmental and resource conservation, and maybe start a few at-home-projects with them!

Here are some proactive steps to help you save on your water and utility bills and Take Care of Texas while at home!

 

Around the house

  • Refrigerator Shower tub and bed graphicLights and lightbulbs – Turn off lights when you’re not using them at home. This can reduce energy consumption and costs while helping keep the air clean. Lighting accounts for approximately 12% of a household’s annual electric bill. To save electricity try timers and dimmers, or replace lightbulbs with energy-saving options like LEDs.
  • A/C and thermostat – Consider adjusting your thermostat. Setting the thermostat at 78 degrees or warmer in the summer and at 68 degrees or cooler in the winter helps reduce energy consumption. When used properly, a programmable thermostat with four temperature settings can save the average household up to $180 per year.
  • Reduce vampire power – Certain appliances and devices in the home quietly drain electricity all day, every day. This is known as “standby power,” or vampire power. It accounts for 5 to 10% of residential energy use, costing the average Texas household up to $180 per year. Unplugging or turning electronics off at a power strip eliminates the energy used for standby power.
  • Recycle – Start a recycle bin or sorting system at home. Each Texan contributes about 5 pounds of waste to landfills each day. By recycling paper, metal, plastic, and other materials, you can reduce waste, help conserve energy, and preserve our state’s natural resources. Find your local residential recycling program.
  • Cut back on mail – Tired of receiving junk mail that goes straight to the garbage? There are two ways to unsubscribe: opt out of receiving mail offers for credit and insurance for five years or opt out of receiving them permanently. The Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service also lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years.

In the bathroom

  • Cleaner holding mop and cleaning supplies in bucket graphicUse less water - One easy step is to take shorter showers. Set a timer for 5-7 minutes and encourage others you live with to do the same. Also, instead of letting the water run while shaving or brushing your teeth, run it just to wet and rinse your razor or toothbrush.
  • Check and fix leaks - Check your faucets, pipes, and appliances, 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. A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day–that’s 73,000 gallons a year.
  • Washers and dryers - 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 by more than 32 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.
  • Bathroom wipes – When buying flushable wipes, baby wipes and other self-care paper products, be mindful of where you dispose of them. Though these products may be labeled as “flushable,” they can cause problems in sanitary sewer systems for many cities and their water treatment infrastructure.

In the kitchen

  • Full compact dishwasherDishwasher - Washing dishes by hand consumes nearly 7,000 more gallons of water a year than using a dishwasher. Operating automatic dishwashers with a full load can help you save water. Scrape dirty dishes, don’t rinse them. Also, you can use your dishwasher’s air-dry option or prop the door open after the final rinse to air-dry dishes naturally.
  • Collect food scraps, oil, and grease - Reducing the fats, oils, and grease (FOG) going down your kitchen sink helps avoid expensive sewer backups, plumbing emergencies, and rate increases to cover sewer maintenance and repairs, while helping protect water quality in nearby creeks and streams. Use strainers to catch food scraps and collect cooking grease in a sealed container and throw it in the trash instead of using the garbage disposal.
  • Compost bin – Cooking at home often produces food scraps which can be kept out of the trash and used in compost. Consider starting a compost bin at home, which could be used in your flower beds or to start a garden.

 

Check out these other resources on how you can do your part to Take Care of Texas while at home:

  • Take Care of Texas Animated House Tool imageTake Care of Texas Animated House – Click on the links in the interactive house to learn simple steps you can take at home to help conserve water and energy, keep the air and water clean, reduce waste, and save a little money in the process.
  • Take Care of Texas Kids Resources – Here are some resources and ways to keep children entertained and educated about conserving the environment! Walk through the facts and impact calculators with them, give them new responsibilities around to the house, or start a project together like a rain barrel or compost pile. There are dozens of opportunities to engage your kids while at home.
  • Make a Difference Calculator – Check out your impact on the environment by entering the year you were born.
  • Take Care of Texas Savings Calculator – This tool can help you estimate how much household water, energy, and money you can save by taking some simple steps.

Check out your lifetime impact on the environment and learn how you can make a difference.

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