Sustainability is something we all have responsibility for. As part of Going West and Going Green, you can use these tips in your daily routine. Not only that, you’re likely to save money as well as helping to save our environment.
Tips to conserve water
- Turn water off when brushing your teeth. And while shaving or even washing your face. Turn it on when it’s time to rinse.
- Check for leaks. Report them to maintenance ASAP to avoid mildew and mold, and of course, water waste.
- Take shorter showers. Americans use 1.2 trillions of gallons of water taking showers each year. Spend shower time cleaning yourself, not just standing there zoning out.
- Put rocks in your toilet. Placing pebbles in your tank restricts the amount of water that fills the bowl back up, using less water per flush.
- Test your toilet for leaks. Put a drop of food coloring into the tank. If the color bleeds into the toilet bowl without flushing, there’s a leak you need to report.
- Only wash clothes when you have a full load. This shouldn’t be too hard for students who wait until the last minute to do laundry. Just make sure you have a full load, or else you’re wasting water and energy on a half load.
- Turn water pressure down when adjusting temperature. Instead of blasting the shower while you wait for it to get hot, turn the water down during the adjustment process.
Tips to conserve energy
- Wash clothes in cold water. You might guess that most of the energy used by a washing machine goes into vigorously swishing the clothes around. In fact, about 90 percent of it is spent elsewhere, heating the water for the load. You can save substantially by washing and rinsing at cooler temperatures. Warm water helps the suds to get at the dirt, but cold-water detergents will work effectively for just about everything in the hamper.
- Hang it up. Clotheslines aren’t just a bit of backyard nostalgia. They really work, given a stretch of decent weather. You spare the energy a dryer would use, and your clothes will smell as fresh as all outdoors without the perfumes in fabric softeners and dryer sheets. You’ll also get more useful life out of clothes dried on indoor or outdoor clotheslines–after all, dryer lint is nothing but your wardrobe in the process of wearing out.
- Don’t over-dry your laundry. Clothes will need less ironing and hold up better if you remove them from the dryer while they’re still just a bit damp. If you are in the market for a dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor; it will be less likely than thermostat-equipped models to run too long.
- Let the dishwasher do the work. Don’t bother pre-rinsing dishes with the idea that your dishwasher will work less hard. Consumer Reports has found that this added step can waste 20 gallons of heated water a day. All you need to do is scrape off leftover food. Enzyme-based detergents will help make sure the dishes emerge spotless.
- Put your PC to sleep. Keep your computer and its monitor in sleep mode rather than leaving them on around the clock. You stand to use 80 percent less electricity, which over the course of a year could have the effect of cutting CO2 emissions by up to 1,250 pounds, according to EPA estimates.
- Turn down the heat in the winter, and turn down the cool in the summer. Lower the thermostat 5° to 10° F when you’re sleeping or are out of the house. “A 10° decrease can cut your heating bill by as much as 20 percent,” says Jim Nanni, manager of the appliance and home-improvement testing department of Consumer Reports. And before you put on a cotton sweater to ward off a slight chill from the AC in summer, consider that for every degree you raise the thermostat setting, you can expect to cut your cooling costs by at least 3 percent.
- Lower the shades and raise the windows. Not at the same time, of course, but your windows and shades are great tools to help moderate temperatures in the home. Because of central air conditioning, we tend to forget these time-tested, traditional ways of making the house comfortable. Shades are particularly helpful in blocking the sun from west-facing rooms in the afternoon. At night, if the forecast calls for cooler temperatures and low humidity, give the AC a rest. Open windows upstairs and down, and use window fans or a whole-house fan.
- Put a spin on home cooling. You can operate a couple of fans with a fraction of the electricity needed for air conditioning, and their cooling effect may make it possible to cut back on AC use.
- Take care of your air conditioner, and it will take care of you. Your air conditioner will run more efficiently if you clean or replace its filter every other week during heaviest use. Keep leaves and other debris away from the central air’s exterior condenser, and keep the condenser coils clean.
How to conserve gasoline
- Go for the shade. The hot summer sun that makes the inside of your car feel like a sauna also zaps fuel from your gas tank.
- Use your garage for your car. Got a garage? Clear it out and make room for your car. Parking in your garage will help your car stay warm in winter and cool in summer, and you won't have to depend as much on your gas-guzzling air-conditioning or defroster when you drive.
- Pump up your tires. Don't get caught driving on underinflated tires. Underinflated tires wear down more quickly and they also lower your car's gas mileage.
"Tires that have low pressure offer more resistance so the engine is going to work harder to keep the car at 60," says Brian Moody, road test editor at Edmunds.com.
Your car's gas mileage may plummet by as much as 15 percent. Driving on underinflated tires may also reduce the life of your tires by 15 percent or more.
- Check your tire pressure once a month. Buy a digital gauge and keep it in your glove box. Compare the pressure in your tires with the recommended pressure listed in your owner's manual and on the placard in your car door. Then inflate your tires as needed. Be sure to check tire pressure when your tires are cold. A good time is early in the morning after your car's been idle overnight.
- Keep your engine in tune. Fixing a car that is out of tune or has failed an emissions test can boost gas mileage by about 4 percent. So be sure to give your car regular tune-ups. You'll also want to watch out for worn spark plugs. A misfiring spark plug can reduce a car's fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent.
- Replace air filters. Keep a close eye on your engine's air filter. When the engine air filter clogs with dirt, dust and bugs, it causes your engine to work harder and your car becomes less fuel-efficient. Replacing a clogged air filter could improve your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent and save you 15 cents a gallon. It's a good idea to have your engine air filter checked at each oil change. The Car Care Council recommends changing your car's air and oil filters every three months or 3,000 miles or as specified in your owner's manual.
- Use the right oil. You can improve your car's gas mileage by 1 percent to 2 percent by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. Opt for motor oil with the words "energy conserving" on the API performance label. This oil contains friction-reducing additives.
- Don't skimp on maintenance. Be serious about auto care. Your car's performance depends on it.