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Save Energy and Water

A photo looking across the waters of a lake
The demands for energy and water are
at an all time high
The DEC TV flat screen tv icon

Watch demonstrations of energy and water saving tips on the DEC TV "Green Tips" Channel

The days of abundant, cheap energy and seemingly endless supplies of clean water are over. At the same time, demand for energy and water continues to grow. The solution to these crises requires that everyone make small and not-so-small lifestyle changes. Collectively, we can work to ensure that these precious resources are conserved.

Save Energy

  • Replace an incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL)
    CFLs use only one quarter to one third of the electricity of a comparable incandescent. Save $44 on your electric bill for each CFL installed over the lifetime of the bulb. More about CFLs Don't throw old or defective CFLs in the trash. Take them to a CFL recycling center or a household hazardous waste collection day. If you break a CFL, see EPA clean-up guidelines in Links Leaving DEC's Website at right.
  • Shut lights and turn off power to appliances when not in use
    TVs, DVD players, computers, monitors, cell phone chargers and other electronic appliances use energy even when in "sleep" or "standby" mode, so keep them turned off when not in use. Plugging related electronics into one power switch and shutting that down makes saving energy easier.
  • Get a home energy survey/audit
    A compact fluorescent light bulb
    Taking small steps to improve your
    home's energy efficiency can really add
    up. This CFL uses one quarter of the
    electricity of an incandescent bulb.
    NYSERDA (see link at right) or your local gas or electric utility. There are many incentives that will help you pay for recommended improvements.
  • Going on vacation? Turn your water heater down to "Vacation" setting
    No sense keeping 40+ gallons at 120 degrees or more when no one's around. Leave yourself a note to remember to turn it back up when you return. More ways to save on water heating
  • Turn you thermostat down 10 degrees when you're asleep or at work
    You'll save 10% for every 10 degree set-back over an eight hour period. A programmable thermostat will do this for you automatically.
  • Don't let your car idle for more than 30 seconds
    Remember: idling = zero miles per gallon.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated
    Check once a month in summer. Under-inflation increases fuel consumption by up to 6%.
  • Drive properly
    Speeding, tailgating and jack-rabbit starts can reduce your gas mileage by 40%.
  • Wash and rinse your clothes in cold water rather than warm or hot
    Your clothes will still be clean and the typical household will save $60 per year.
  • Choose Energy Star® appliances
    When replacing high-consumption appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, clothes washers and dish washers, buy an energy-efficient model. See link at right to go to the Energy Star site.
  • Insulate your attic
    Uninsulated or under-insulated attics lose tremendous amounts of heat. Add extra insulation if your attic has R-19 or less (equal to 6" fiberglass or about 5.5" cellulose). New York State building code currently requires R-38 in attics (12" fiberglass or approximately 11" cellulose).
  • Cook for the week
    Cook larger quantities of dinner and baked goods at one time to reduce oven use later in the week.
  • Get a push mower
    Woman mowing the lawn with a reel mower
    The new reel mowers are light, good
    for your grass and give off no green-
    house gases or air pollutants
    Powered lawn mowers use lots of (expensive) gas and give off more greenhouse gases than a car. The new push mowers, also called reel mowers, are light (less than 20lbs), and shear the grass rather than tearing it, as conventional mowers do, which is healthier for the grass.
  • Use the proper temperature settings
    Set your refrigerator between 38 and 42 degrees F. Set your freezer between 0 and 5 degrees F.
  • Summertime temperature control
    During the warmer months, keep windows, shades and/or drapes closed during the day to keep out the heat and open at night to let the cooler air in.

Save Water

Start with these tips if you're brand new to water conservation. If you're looking for more ideas, read on.

  • Get a dual flush toilet
    Long popular in Europe, this innovative toilet has finally reached America. There are two flush buttons on the top of the tank - one for solid waste and one for liquid waste - using a mere 1.6 gallons and .8 gallons per flush respectively
  • Use a soaker hose rather than a sprinkler
    Water your garden beds with a soaker hose or drip irrigation system and you'll cut your garden water use in half. This method of watering delivers the water directly to the root zone where it's needed and keeps the leaves dry, cutting down on mold and mildew problems.
  • Switch to a front-loading washing machine
    Also called horizontal axis washers, these use one-third to one quarter the water per load compared to a top-loading model. As an added benefit, the extremely fast final spin cycle leaves clothes drier saving energy too.
  • Less lawn = a lot less water used
    According to the EPA, Americans use 7 billion gallons of water per day on their lawns. Try lawn alternatives like groundcovers and wildflowers. Convert a section of lawn into a bed of drought-tolerant perennials and flowering shrubs.
  • Capture water in a rainbarrel
    Rainbarrels catch the water from down-spouts and roof tops and save it for use later. Add a fine mesh screen on top to prevent mosquitos from breeding in the water. Drip irrigation or soaker hose systems (see above) can deliver the water to your garden.
  • Use a low-flow showerhead
    Almost a quarter of household water use is for showers. The newer low-flow showerheads give a satisfying shower while cutting water use in half. If you were unhappy with the early water-saver showerheads, it's time to try them again.

More about Save Energy and Water: