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Green Guide for Huntington Beach, Orange County, Southern California - Go Green
solar energy, water conservation, electricity savings, energy efficiency, drought tolerant landscaping, tankless water heaters, recycle reuse
By following some of the simple tips on conserving, you can do your part to help the environment,
save precious resources, and save yourself some money!!
Tips below include:
Adjust your thermostat dial and turn up energy savings. Setting your thermostat to keep air conditioning at 78 degrees when it’s hot outside, and your heating system at 68 when it’s cold, can help save up to 20% in heating and cooling costs.
Turn off unneeded lights. Avoid lighting an empty room and take advantage of natural light whenever possible.
Use appliances wisely. To help prevent electricity outages, use major appliances after 7 p.m. Don’t forget to turn off equipment like ceiling fans, stereos and computers when not in use.
Replace standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and save 75% of lighting costs.
Unplug electronics, battery chargers and other equipment when not in use. Taken together, these small items can use as much power as your refrigerator.
Take steps to cut water use such as installing faucet aerators, low-flow shower heads, and low-flush toilets. As much as 19% of California electricity is used to pump, transport and treat water.
A higher setting on your air conditioning thermostat will save about 10% on cooling costs.
Always buy ENERGY STAR qualified appliances and equipment - they're up to 40% more efficient.
Turn your water heater down to 120° or the "Normal" setting when home, and to the lowest setting when away. Water heating accounts for about 13% of home energy costs.
Reduce air conditioning costs by using fans, keeping windows and doors shut and closing shades during the day.
Enable "power management" on all computers and make sure to turn them off at night. A laptop computer uses up to 90% less energy than bigger desktop models.
Wash clothes in cold water When possible. About 90% of the energy use in a clothes washer goes to water heating.
Run your dishwasher and clothes washer only when fully loaded. Fewer loads reduce energy and water use.
Make sure your dryer's outside vent is clear and clean the lint filter after every load. When shopping for a new dryer look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off when clothes are dry.
Test for air leaks by holding a lit incense stick next to windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches and other locations where there is a possible air path to the outside. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing or weather stripping.
Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering a plant or garden, or for cleaning.
Verify that your home is leak free. Many homes have hidden water leaks. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.
Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. If your faucet is dripping at a rate of one drop per second, you can expect to waste 2,700 gallons per year. This adds to the cost of water and sewer utilities, or can strain your septic
Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors.
Check for toilet tank leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the toilet is leaking, color will appear in the toilet bowl within 30 minutes. Check the toilet for worn out, corroded or bent parts. Most replacement parts are inexpensive, readily available and easily installed. (Flush as soon as test is done, since food coloring may stain tank.)
Replace or adjust the toilet handle if it frequently sticks in the flush position letting water run constantly.
Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded. Set the water level for the size of load you are using.
Take shorter showers. Replace your shower head with an ultra-low-flow version. Some units are available that allow you to cut off the flow without adjusting the water temperature knobs.
Place a bucket in the shower to catch excess water and use this to water plants. The same technique can be used when washing dishes or vegetables in the sink.
In the shower, turn water on to get wet; turn off to lather up; then turn back on to rinse off. Repeat when washing your hair.
Install a toilet dam or displacement device such as a bag or bottle to cut down on the amount of water needed for each flush. Be sure installation does not interfere with the operating parts.
Insulate your water pipes. You'll get hot water faster and avoid wasting water while it heats up.
Store drinking water in the refrigerator. Don't let the tap run while you are waiting for cool water to flow.
Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste instead of using a garbage disposal. Kitchen sink disposals require lots of water to operate properly. Garbage disposals also can add 50 percent to the volume of solids in a septic tank, which can lead to malfunctions and maintenance problems.
Consider installing an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don't have to let the water run while it heats up. This will reduce water heating costs for your household.
When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water. Quickly rinse under a slow-moving stream from the faucet.
Never install a water-to-air heat pump or air-conditioning system. Newer air-to-air models are just as efficient and do not waste water.
Don't let water run while shaving or washing your face. Brush your teeth first while waiting for water to get hot, then wash or shave after filling the basin.
Install water softening systems only when necessary. Save water and salt by running the minimum amount of regenerations necessary to maintain water softness. Turn softeners off while on vacation.
Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other similar waste in the trash rather than the toilet.
WATER SAVINGS OUTSIDE THE HOUSE
Don't over water your lawn. As a general rule, lawns only need watering every five to seven days in the summer and every 10 to 14 days in the winter. A hearty rain eliminates the need for watering for up to two weeks. Buy a rain gage and use it to determine how much rain your yard has received. Most of the year, lawns only need one inch of water per week.
Plant it smart. Drought efficient landscaping is a great way to design, install and maintain both your plants and irrigation system. More importantly, it will save time, money and water.
Water lawns during the early morning hours when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces losses from evaporation.
Position sprinklers so water lands on the lawn and shrubs... not the paved areas. Don't allow sprinklers to water your street, driveway or sidewalk.
Install irrigation devices that are the most water efficient for each use. Micro and drip irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of water efficient irrigation methods.
Check sprinkler systems and timing devices regularly to be sure they operate properly.
Raise the lawn mower blade to at least three inches or to its highest level. A higher cut encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds soil moisture better than a closely-clipped lawn.
Avoid over fertilizing your lawn. Fertilizer applications increase the need for water. Apply fertilizers which contain slow-release, water-insoluble forms of nitrogen.
Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.
Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not need water as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering. Group plants together based on similar water needs.
Do not hose down your driveway or sidewalk. Use a broom to clean leaves and other debris from these areas.
Avoid the installation of ornamental water features (such as fountains) unless the water is recycled.
Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. A garden hose can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn sprinklers off.
Avoid purchasing recreational water toys which require a constant stream of water.
Consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water. If you wash your own car, park on the grass and use a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle.
Use a shut-off nozzle on your hose which can be adjusted down to a fine spray so that water flows only as needed. When finished, turn it off at the faucet instead of at the nozzle to avoid leaks. Check hose connectors to make sure plastic or rubber washers are in place. Washers prevent leaks.
If you have a swimming pool, consider a new water-saving pool filter. A single back flushing with a traditional filter uses 180 to 250 gallons of water.
CAR MAINTENANCE & DRIVING
Idling gets you 0 miles per gallon. The best way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it. No more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days is needed. Anything more simply wastes fuel and increases emissions.
Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking) wastes gas. It can lower your highway gas mileage 33% and city mileage 5%.
Avoid high speeds. Above 60 mph, gas mileage drops rapidly. The fueleconomy.gov web site shows how driving speed affects gas mileage.
When you use overdrive gearing, your car's engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces wear.
Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
Use air conditioning only when necessary.
Clear out your car; extra weight decreases gas mileage. Reduce drag by placing items inside the car or trunk rather than on roof racks. A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to buy a smaller car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5%.
Check into telecommuting, carpooling and public transit to cut mileage and car maintenance costs.
Use the grade of motor oil recommended by your car's manufacturer. Using a different motor oil can lower your gasoline mileage by 1%-2%.
Keep tires properly inflated and aligned to improve your gasoline mileage by around 3.3%.
Get regular engine tune-ups and car maintenance checks to avoid fuel economy problems due to worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, low transmission fluid, or transmission problems.
Replace clogged air filters to improve gas mileage by as much as 10% and protect your engine.
Combine errands into one trip. Several short trips, each one taken from a cold start, can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
Long-Term Savings Tip: Consider buying a highly fuel-efficient vehicle. A fuel-efficient vehicle, a hybrid vehicle, or an alternative fuel vehicle could save you a lot at the gas pump and help the environment. See the Fuel Economy Guide (www.fueleconomy.gove) for more on buying a new fuel-efficient car or truck.
GARDENING & LANDSCAPE
Use shredded untreated wood and leaf wastes converted into chips as mulch on garden beds. This would help prevent weed growth, retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and add nutrients back to the soil.
Purchase recycled-content gardening equipment and tools. Equipment like garden hoses made from old tires, stepping stones made from old glass bottles, hand tools made with recycled plastic, plastic lumber made from recycled plastic bottles and bags.
Don't bag the grass clippings; leave them on your lawn instead. You can also use a mulching mower. The clippings will return nutrients to the soil rather than take up space in landfills.
Protect young seedlings from frost, wind, heavy rain, and roving animals by reusing plastic milk jugs, just by cutting the bottoms off, or else use small paper bags for the purpose. And, once the seedlings have grown, recycle the bags and jugs for sure.
Look for quick-sprouting plants that help block weed growth cutting down on the need for weed killers.
Use alternatives to pesticides like introducing ladybugs as they will eat aphids or plant marigolds to ward off beetles.
Use recycled materials like wood scraps and cardboard for building a backyard fort or tree-house for your children, giving them an eco-friendly atmosphere.
OTHER GENERAL IDEAS
Be a proactive shopper. Next time you are at the food store, try to choose products that use recycled materials such as plastics and cardboards. Once you get back home, keep the trend going and make sure to recycle them yourself. While you're in the produce aisle, try to purchase fruits and veggies that forego insecticides. It's definitely a healthier alternative for both the earth and your family!
Skip those plastic bags. When shopping, make sure to take your own canvas sacks. Many grocery stores rewards with money back by doing so.
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