To Cope with Drought Conditions, Summer Electricity Reliability, Alliance to Save Energy Offers Consumers Combined Water, Energy $aving Tips

Release Date: Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Water, Water Everywhere, But...

With many parts of the nation dealing with drought conditions leading into summer when heat waves up the potential for electricity reliability problems- brownouts and blackouts-the Alliance to Save Energy points out a surprising fact about the energy required to provide our water.

"The water and wastewater sector in the United States annually consumes three percent of the total electricity consumption-equal to the total electricity consumed by the pulp, paper, and petroleum sectors," notes the Alliance's new Watergy™ report.

The Alliance offers consumers combined water and energy-saving tips that will put less strain on water and energy resources and also cut overall home utility bills:

  • In the market for a new washing machine or dishwasher? Ask for appliances with the ENERGY STAR label, the symbol of energy efficiency. Front loading washing machines and some newer top loading models which bear the ENERGY STAR label use significantly less water and energy to get your clothes as clean with much less wear and tear. Use the energy-saving features on your dishwasher.
  • Do full loads when you use clothes washers and dishwashers so that you use water and energy most efficiently.
  • Go with the flow. To reduce water usage, use a low flow showerhead-it saves up to five gallons a minute. Take showers vs. baths. Take shorter showers vs. longer showers. Shower with a spouse-it cuts water usage and may even improve a relationship. (The Alliance offers no expertise in the latter-we'll save that for the relationship-oriented talk shows!)
  • Don't be a drip. Fix those drippy, leaky faucets around the house. Same with leaky toilets. Small leaks add up. A leaky toilet can waste up to 52,800 gallons a year. Replace old faucet aerators. Newer models use less water and provide more water pressure. Consider water-saving faucet attachments. Also check for leaks in pipes, hoses, and couplings.
  • Forget that brick in your toilet tank. That can damage the tank. Instead, place a plastic bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to save some 11 gallons of water per day.
  • Are you in really hot water? Purchase an efficient hot water heater if you're in the market for new one. Insulate your hot water pipes and heater with approved insulation materials, and turn down the hot water heater thermostat to 130 degrees. It's safer—less likelihood of scalding yourself or your children—and hot enough to wash clothes or dishes.
  • Shift energy-intensive tasks - laundry and dishwashing - to off-peak energy demand hours to increase electricity reliability during heat waves.
  • Know when to turn it on - and off. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth and save four gallons a minute. A family of four who follows their dentist's brushing instructions can be cavity-free and save 200 gallons a week. Turn off the water when you shave/shampoo. Rather than letting the water run, soak pots and pans while you scrape them clean.
  • Recycling isn't just for trash. Don't let water go down the drain when there may be another use for it. Collect rainwater, water used to wash off fruits and vegetables, and water from cleaning your fish tank, and reuse it to water plants. Connect gutter downspouts to rain-barrels or direct them to trees or plants.

Saving Water Outdoors

  • Use a broom or sweeper instead of a hose to clean the garage, driveway, or sidewalk.
  • Let it grow. Longer grass will reduce the loss of water to evaporation. Mowing too often requires more water.
  • Reap what you sow - planting and reaping. Use a layer of organic mulch around plants to reduce evaporation. Plant during spring or fall when watering requirements are lower. Water earlier or later in the day when temperatures are lower. Choose lower maintenance plants.
  • Watering passersby or your neighbors on the sidewalk? Adjust sprinklers to water lawns and plants, not pavement or people.
  • Use a hose with a shut-off nozzle, and turn off the water while you water your plants or wash your car. Turn it off at the faucet when you're through. Better yet, use a bucket of water and a sponge to wash your car and get better exercise.