With gas and energy costs rising, and water shortages looming for 36 US states, you can save more money than ever by improving your home’s efficiency. Here are a few simple projects that can take a substantial bite out of your monthly utilities.
Lawn and Garden
The average American household dumps 60% of their annual water usage on their lawns—which means that even small efficiency gains can make a big difference on your monthly bill. First, if you have a sprinkler system, replace misting or vaporizing sprinkler heads with rotors—rotors shoot jets of water instead of a mist, which deliver more moisture to the soil and reduce evaporation.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can install a gray water recycling system which will irrigate your lawn directly from your shower, dishwasher, and washing machine. Of course, for any water-reclamation project, you need to use non-toxic, graywater-safe soaps and detergents.
If you’re renting, or just want a lower-impact solution, buy a few barrels and install threaded spigots for a garden hose—then place one under your kitchen sink and run your dishwasher drainage hose into the barrel. Place another near your washing machine with the drainage hose propped over the lip. Then, when each barrel is full, take it outside, place it in an elevated position, and attach your garden hose to the spigot and use the water on your lawn.
Indoor Water Fixtures
Installing faucet aerators and water-saver showerheads is as easy as screwing in a light bulb—all you need is a little thread tape to seal it off when you replace it. If your aerators sputter or release more water than 2.75 gpm, replace them.
If you don’t have a bath fan in your bathrooms, you might be surprised to learn that the added humidity and heat from your showers can put extra strain on your heating and cooling systems, as well as contributing to mold and mildew. Install bath fans in each bathroom, and run them during your showers and for 15 minutes afterward.
Katie White is a writer and handywoman from DIY Mother who is passionate about self-reliance and conservation. She takes pride in making her home a more sustainable and comfortable place for her husband and two kids. She lives in Dallas.