Water and Energy Saving Tips

Energy Saving Tips from Sinai Green:

  • Have you checked to see if your fireplace damper is open or closed? Convective air flow through the fireplace can lose as much heat as leaving a window open all winter long.
  • Did you know you can save 10-30% of your fuel costs by driving smart? If you own more than one vehicle, then drive the more fuel-efficient model when you have a choice. Plan your route because in city driving up to one-third of your fuel can be wasted through idling. Rid your car of unnecessary weight because you lose about 1% of fuel efficiency for every 100 pounds.
  • Install a tankless water heater. Demand-type water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don't produce the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. A gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don't need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water. More information is available from the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Do your clothes really need to be washed after just one wearing, or will the removal of a dirty spot allow you to wear an item again?  When you wash laundry in hot water, 90% of the energy heats the water—the other 10% of the energy powers the washing machine. Try washing your clothes in cold water instead.
  • WEAR A SWEATER.  During cold weather, many people set their thermostats a little warmer than necessary.  Lower your thermostat and put on a sweater.  Home heating accounts for over a quarter of your energy bill!!
  • Can LED bulbs be used in garage door openers? Common LED bulbs can emit interference that limits the range of garage door opener remotes. LED lights flash at a rate of about 15 times per second (pulse-width modulation), but to the naked eye, they emit a continuous stream of light. The control circuits that keep LED lights flashing on schedule do so by relying on frequencies between 30 and 300 MHZ, and here’s where problems can arise. Garage door openers typically rely on frequencies that fall between 288 and 360 MHZ, meaning the two can, at times, impact one another and wreak havoc. Therefore, not all LED bulbs can be used in an electric garage door opener.  Without endorsement of the following companies or products, Chamberlain, the parent company of the Chamberlain, LiftMaster, and Craftsman (formerly Sears) product lines, has specified which brands of LED bulbs can be used in its openers. For more details, you can consult this blog post from Garaga Garage Doors. 
  • Can an incandescent light dimmer switch be used to dim LED lights?  Simple answer is NO. Old dimmers don't control LEDs as well as the new dimmers that are designed for LEDs. The old dimmers will also drastically shorten the life span of the LED bulbs. With old incandescent lights you are just reducing the voltage across the element, but with LEDs you are lowering the voltage to the electronics which fire the LED. Go to a good electrical supply store and they can give you accurate information and some different choices. Unfortunately the new dimmers for LEDs are quite expensive. For more details, you can consult this article from Lighting & Decor. 
  • If you live in a rental apartment, talk with the other tenants and mobilize support for approaching the landlord about exploring the installation of solar.
  • Contact a solar provider to see if your roof is suitable for solar panels.
  • Save hot water by washing clothes in cold water and wash only full loads or change washer settings for load size.
  • Maintain heating and cooling ductwork by checking for leaks. Signs of possible leakage include uneven room temperatures, rising energy bills, and more dust in your living space.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room, or install a dimmer or occupancy sensor.
  • Clean the clothes dryer lint trap regularly, dry full loads, or line dry your clothing.
  • Fly less. If travel is unavoidable, purchase carbon offsets for your trips. There are many places where carbon offsets can be purchased, including The Nature Conservancy.
  • Turn down the water heater temperature on days when the heater isn’t needed. Replace your hot water tank with a smaller or on-demand heater.
  • Set water heater temperature no higher than 110 degrees.  Insulate the first 3 feet of the water heater “out” pipe or more pipe if easily accessible. Use an insulation blanket on units manufactured before 2004.
  • Replace single-pane windows with double-pane windows. Weather-strip drafty doors and windows. Assess the benefits of insulating the attic and other areas.
  • Improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems by scheduling an appointment to have your heating/cooling system tuned. Clean or change your system's filters regularly. Clear your furniture from heating and cooling registers.
  • Consolidate partially filled refrigerators and shut off extra ones. Move refrigerators 3 inches from the wall and vacuum coils/vents. Replace refrigerators with Energy Star models. 
  • In your home office, plug electronics into a "smart" power strip that lets you designate which electronics should always be on, and which ones do not need power when they're not in use.  A smart power strip can help keep electronic accessories from wasting power. Click here for more details.
  • Turn off lights when not in use or when natural daylight is sufficient. This can reduce lighting expenses by 10 to 40 percent.
  • Maximize daylighting. After all, sunlight is free! Open or close blinds to make the best use of natural daylight and take advantage of skylights or other natural daylight sources to reduce lighting during daytime hours.
  • Use task lighting where feasible.
  • Replace non-programmable thermostats with programmable thermostats. Establish 10-15 degree setbacks at night or when not at home. Depending on the season, set your thermostat 2-3 degrees lower or higher when at home. You can also Install ”smart” thermostats which are operated through the use of a smart iPhone or Android phone app.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs in your home or apartment with more energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs.  Preference would be to have all bulbs replaced with LEDs.  LEDs help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and lower electric bills. Don’t wait to replace CFL bulbs until they burn out. The energy saved by replacing them more than makes up for removing and disposing your CFLs. Properly dispose of CFLs (containing toxic mercury) at a permitted household hazardous waste facility. Read more about LED Lights compared to Incandescent Light Bulbs and CFLs
  • You can find addional energy saving advice on the Energy Star web site.

 Water Saving Tips from Sinai Green:

  • Water Conservation for Homeowners Associations: State Laws Governing HOAs and Landscaping AND 9 Water Saving Tips for HOAs from EBMUD
  • Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you will save up to 150 gallons per month.  Per person folks!!  If your shower fills a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a WaterSense® labeled model. 
  • Install high efficiency toilets and clothes washers – Toilets use about 20% of water in the home, clothes washers about 19% (EBMUD). Water efficient models can reduce your indoor use significantly..  Note: Rebates are available. 
  • Water Saving Tip:  Indoor Tip for the kitchen is to use the garbage disposal sparingly.  Instead, compost vegetable food waste and save gallons of water every time.  BTW, all those little ground up pieces of organic matter that travel through the sanitary sewer and eventually enter the wastewater treatment plant place an additional load on the overall treatment system, including but not limited to, additional energy, biological oxygen demand and transportation (fuel) to the overburdened sludge landfill.
  • Run full loads - clothes washers and dishwashers are more efficient with full loads. 
  • State Senate Bill 407 (SB 407) requires all building alterations or improvements to existing single-family residential buildings to replace all noncompliant plumbing fixtures as a condition to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy or final permit approval by the building department. In addition to this, SB 407 requires all noncompliant plumbing fixtures in a single-family dwelling to be replaced with water-conserving plumbing fixtures on or before January 1, 2017, whether or not there are alterations or improvements made to the building.  For additional information click here.
  • Find and fix leaks – A small faucet drip can waste 75 gallons per day.  Toilet leaks, often silent, can waste over 200 gallons per day.  A steady house line leak can add up to more than 1,000 gallons per day (EBMUD).
  • Install low-flow devices; faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads are easy to install and show immediate water savings.  Note: Go to www.ebmud.com to order their Home Survey Kit, a step-by-step resource for finding leaks and requesting low-flow devices.
  • Insulating hot water pipes means less time needed to run the tap waiting for the water to heat up.  You save both water and energy.
  • Use a pan or basin to rinse veggies rather than run the tap.  Soak and scrub vegetables in a container.  Go one step further…water a garden plant!
  • Don’t let the tap run when brushing your teeth, lathering up, shaving or doing the dishes, turn on the tap only when you need to rinse.
  • “Your Trees need TLC” is presented by EBMUD.  This publication presents tree care tips and recommends low-water use plants for the garden.  EBMUD offers a PDF “Caring for Trees in Drought Guide,” as well.  (http://www.ebmud.com/customers/pipeline/2016/05/your-trees-need-tlc/)
  • When ice cubes are left over from your drink or ice chest, don’t throw them into the sink.  Place ice cubes on a plant! 
  • Toilet leaks can be silent!  Be sure to test your toilet at least once per year.  Put food coloring into your toilet tank.  If the coloring seeps into the bowl without flushing, there is a leak. Fix it and start saving gallons.
  • Are any of the toilets in your home 20 years old or older?  If yes, then it’s likely that these toilets are inefficient and replacing them with WaterSense (*) labeled high efficiency models could save over 2 gallons per flush when replacing a 3.5 gallon per flush toilet.  If no, then your fixtures are designed to flush efficiently at 1.6 gallons per flush or less.  High-efficiency toilets (HET) use 20% less water than the federal required 1.6 gallons per flush. You may qualify for a rebate when replacing 3.5 gallons per flush with a qualifying HET.
  • (*) The WaterSense label is a certification mark, backed by the credibility of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), identifying a water-efficient product, new home, or program that meets EPA criteria for water efficiency and performance.   
  • Your toilet is not a waste basket – Use toilets only for what they were intended, not as a flushable trash bin.  Drop tissues in the trash instead of flushing them and save water every time.
  • General Outdoor Tip - Use a broom instead of a hose to clean patios, sidewalks and driveways, and save water every time.
  • Dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand. Energy Star dishwashers save even more water and energy.  If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.  ……OR experiment with not rinsing at all!
  • Kitchen Tips - There are a number of ways to save water and they all start with you. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.  This way every drop goes down you and not in the drain.  Designate one glass for your drinking water each day, or refill a water bottle.  His will cut down on the number of glasses to wash. 
  • Winter is here…..it is raining in and around the SF Bay Area…..it is snowing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains…..AND THE DROUGHT IS NOT OVER.  Please continue to save precious water.  Next time it rains….go out and wash your car….make it a family affair….the kids will love it!
  • General Indoor Tip - A refreshing experience is to wash your face with cold water. This way you do not waste precious water waiting for the warm water to flow.
  • Office - Become or appoint a water ambassador within your organization who creates, implements and maintains your water conversation program.  Here is a start…..Install an instant water heater near your kitchen so you do not have to run the water while it heats up.  This also reduces energy costs.
  • Indoor Tips for Kids - Teach children to turn off faucets tightly after each use.  Play fun games while learning how to save water. Be a leak detective! Check all hoses, connectors and faucets regularly for leaks. Avoid recreation toys that require a constant flow of water.  Reward kids for the water-saving tips they follow.
  • Indoor Tip for the Laundry Room - Have a plumber re-route your greywater (or “graywater”) to trees and plants rather than the sewer line.  Check with your City and County for codes.
  • Complete San Francisco’s Water-Wise “Home Water Conservation Check List” to identify ways to improve the water efficiency of your home.