Some of the tips in the last post will help keep your home energy efficient (caulking and insulation) and conserve water (fixing leaks).
In addition to these hints, you can upgrade your appliances to units that have an EnergyStar rating. This is a government program which helps ensure that products are efficient. There are even entire homes built to these standards. More information is available at energystar.gov website. There are products now available which help reduce the heat in your attic by being placed on the underside of the sheathing of your roof. One type is a paint like product, while the other looks like the aluminum material sunshade for your car. Also, when you are replacing your roof covering, go with a lighter shade color material to help cool the attic. Using fluorescent bulbs in your fixtures reduces your electric bill, and they will last longer, but leave them on when you are going in and out of a room, since they cost more to start up than incandescent bulbs. Programmable thermostats are relatively easy to install, and they can reduce costs by letting you control the temperature in the house at different times of the day. There is a window screen material which is supposed to help reflect the sun’s UV rays to help keep rooms cooler.
Water Heaters can be fitted with an insulated jacket. These jackets are suggested for electric water heaters, not gas heaters. Some experts say that these jackets do not help at all. It is also said that water heaters should always be in the attic or garage to help them keep the water hot. The unit’s water lines should be insulated to help with its efficiency. The heating elements (anode rods) for the water heater should be replaced every three to four years to maintain its ability to heat well. The water temperature should be set at 120 F. You could replace your old water heater with an on demand system, which will only heat the water when you need it.
Ceiling fans should be operated, with the thermostat turned up to a slightly higher temperature. This will make the room feel cool, while the HVAC system does not have to work so hard. Reversing the fans during the winter, helps with heating costs.
Frequently the city will send out a flyer with the water bill which mentions water conservation ideas, but here are some ideas. Fixing leaking faucets and constantly running toilets is the biggest help. By using low-flow heads on faucets and showers you can reduce your water bill as well. Choosing plants which are native to your area or are drought tolerant can help reduce watering, but you need to remember that all plants have to be watered till they are established. Deep watering (watering longer in a spot) to encourage roots to go deeper for their water will cause you to water less often. This is particularly true with grass. Also, keeping your grass higher and leaving the clippings on the lawn helps reduce its need for water. The clippings act as a mulch. Mulching garden beds helps plants retain water. There is debate over this statement, but it is generally believed that a shower will use less water than a bath, but I think it depends how much water you use in your bath and how long you shower. Doing larger loads of laundry, instead of smaller loads more frequently, saves water. Another debate statement is about washing dishes, since some say that waiting and filling a dishwasher saves water over doing them by hand, but some say that hand washing without letting the water run all the time saves more water.