Funny how life is never ever ever absolute (unless sometimes it is, ha). I'm working today on all the minor easy fixes around the house to make things more efficient. Turns out there's often a flip-side.
1. Lower temp on water heater.
One of the first things we noticed when we moved in to this house two months ago was how hot the water temp was. It was one of those things that we kept saying we'd adjust, but hadn't gotten to yet. Both green websites and parenting websites agree that your water heater should be set to 120-125 degrees F.
Flip-side: We do not have a tankless water heater, which means if the temp is less than 130 degrees (122-120 degrees at the tap), we set ourselves up to grow bacteria in the tank which could make us sick with things like Legionnaire's Disease. The thermostat on our water heater was set above 140, so I cranked it down to 130 exactly. Every 10 degrees down you turn the thermostat gives you a 3-5% energy savings, so I'm happy at that number. Water Heater facts from treehugger.com
I measured the temperature at the tap before I turned the heat down, it came in at around 133 (it's lower in the pic because I couldn't find the camera...oh discordia! Ha.) Anything over 125 is a scalding hazard for little guys.
2. Shut the doors & lights behind me.
I read that it was more energy efficient to keep bedroom doors closed when we aren't in the room, that doing this would save on a/c. So all day long I'm shutting doors, in addition to making sure all the extra lights are off.
My house was built in 1961. It's a ranch style, and it gets very little light from outside. With all the doors shut and the lights off as much as possible, this is a gloomy, murky place.
Flip-side: I return to the net to find the link about closing doors for this post, it turns out that that's only for window/portable units. In fact, central is designed for a certain amount of air pressure and a particular sized house. By shutting all the doors, I've been causing a build up of pressure in the rooms, and I'm causing the a/c to pull air from outside/vents/gaps in the doors & windows, etc. Basically I'm making it even less efficient. New rule: READ CAREFULLY. Duh.
3. Turn thermostat on the central air up 2 degrees.
This one is easy so far. We were set at 74 degrees F, now we're at 76 and no one has complained.
Flip-side: None. So far, so good.
4. Dish Washing
I turned off the "heat dry" setting on the dishwasher and changed the wash setting from "Heavy" to "Normal". There was no noticeable change in the cleanliness of this last batch of dishes. All the resources say to make sure to completely fill the washer...there are seven of us, the trick is filling it less than twice a day.
I decided to measure how much water I use when I pre-rinse the dishes. I plugged the disposal side of the sink and then pre-rinsed as normal, letting all the water collect. Turns out I almost filled the sink. That's a lot of waste water! I may have to look into water reclamation... For now I'm going to try filling the sink half way with hot water and do all my pre-rinsing in that. We'll see.
Flip-side: The dishwasher doesn't clean well enough without the prewashing. We don't have an Energy Star dish washer, but I'm putting it on my list. The energy savings and rebate would have us paying off a new unit in about 4 years ( I think) but we just don't have the outlay right now. Best Buy has some great info and a savings worksheet here: Energy Star Dishwasher