Water and energy saving actions
As summer approaches, our water and electricity usage can rise along with the temperature as we try to keep cool and keep the garden alive. Here’s a handy list of household actions that will help keep your appliances running at their best and reduce bills.
- Check the filter on your air conditioner and clean to manufacturer’s instructions to keep it working more efficiently – it will use less energy and save you money. Dust ceiling fans before turning them on to avoid spreading dust around the house.
- Check the thermostat on your storage hot water system to ensure it is set to 60 degrees Celsius – any higher is wasting energy and a lower temperature may allow harmful bacteria to thrive. Set instantaneous hot water systems to no more than 50 degrees Celsius. Insulate pipes to limit heat loss.
- Take shorter, cooler showers where possible to save on water and energy. You can install a simple timer to act as a handy reminder for your household.
- Wash clothes in cold water on the eco setting if your washing machine has one. Washing in hot water uses 80 to 90 per cent more energy than washing in cold water.
- For a simple water-saving action, capture greywater from sources like your shower, bath or washing machine for use on the garden.
- Switch to drying your clothing on the line or a clothes rack if you’ve been using a dryer over the cooler months.
- Run your fridge efficiently. Clean and defrost your fridge and ensure it is set to the right temperature – between 3 and 4 degrees Celsius for the fridge and minus 15 to minus 18 degrees Celsius for the freezer. Running your fridge too cold uses excess energy, costs more to run and will mean your fridge may not last as long. Avoid turning on second fridges unless needed and consider getting rid of additional fridges and freezers to save money and energy.
Water smart in the garden
Other things to think about before you lift the shovel to plant your own produce are ways to make your garden water smart. Key tips include grouping plants with the same water needs, minimising paved areas to stop soils drying out, and improving soils so they retain moisture. Starting a compost heap from your kitchen waste and layering it with mulch around new plants are fantastic ways to stop water evaporation and keep soil moist and fertile.
Planning ahead will help you save a lot of water over the life of your garden and keep it looking its best, even when you have to spend time away from it. Get advice from your local garden centre and friends and neighbours with green thumbs.
Assess the long-term water needs of your garden and consider whether it’s worth installing drip irrigation around your garden beds. If you are considering water saving initiatives in your garden, check if you’re eligible to receive any rebates for a rainwater tank, greywater system or garden assessment.
An outdoor tidy-up
A well-maintained home is less likely to leak energy, will have fewer fire risks and won’t require expensive repairs as often. To make your home safe, comfortable and ready for the summer months, take a walk around the outside to assess what chores need doing.
- Check the exterior, including: roof, gutters, flyscreens, windows and doors for any damage, gaps and potential risks. Touch up exterior paint to protect surfaces, mow long grass, prune and remove branches, and identify and remove any other fire and storm hazards. If you’re in a climatic zone prone to flooding or cyclones, you might want to think about installing shutters or screens to protect glass areas.
- Be water wise. If you have a rainwater tank, clean out the inlet screens and your gutters and downpipes to ensure water is effectively making its way into your tank. Check your sprinkler system (if your water restrictions allow you to use one) and adjust where necessary so that only your lawn and garden is watered and not your paving, house or footpath.
- Think about shading. Take a walk around the house and note which windows will soon attract the blazing summer sun. Now may be the time to install blinds or awnings before it gets too hot. Plant fast-growing deciduous trees that will keep out the summer heat but allow the winter sun in. They can also provide a shady spot in your garden for you, your pets, and local wildlife.
- A swimming pool check-up should include cleaning the pool filter, skimmer and pool pump baskets and checking the chemicals to ensure the correct balance for good pool hygiene. If you haven’t been running the pool filter pump during the cooler months, read the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure correct pump operation and water filtration. Set the correct daily run time, taking into account the season and pool use and use a timer to save energy. Running your pump at the lowest recommended speed that still maintains correct pool hygiene will also use much less energy and save you money.
Be bushfire ready
“Prepare, act, survive” is the national slogan for readying your home for the summer bushfire season. Key to being prepared is to understand the level of bush fire risk you and your property are exposed to and the ways you can reduce this risk. Some of the things you should do include:
- Check and/or change the battery on your smoke alarms.
- Cut back any overhanging trees or shrubs and dispose of cuttings appropriately.
- Check the condition of your roof and replace any damaged or missing tiles.
- Clean leaves from the roof, gutters and downpipes and fit quality metal leaf guards.
- If you have a water tank, dam or swimming pool, consider installing a Static Water Supply (SWS) sign.
- Store wood piles well away from the house and keep covered.
- Keep garden mulch away from the house and keep grass short.
- Ensure you have a hose which is long enough to reach every part of the home.
- Remove and store any flammable items away from the house.
- Check the condition of external walls, cladding and seal any gaps.
- Consider doing a quick online fire safety audit to reduce your risk of a house fire.
An underground concrete rainwater tank will not be damaged in the event of a fire. At Sydney Water Tanks, we can design a tank that combines both retention and detention so it can be used as an additional water source to help fight the fire and protect your home. Talk to us today to find out more! Call us on 1800 041 111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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This article was first published on LivingGreener.gov.au and reposted on www.sydneywatertanks.com.au and www.bioseptic.com.au