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Earth Friendly: Save water, energy this summer

By Victoria Advocate
Aug. 4, 2011 at 3:04 a.m.

Meridith Byrd

By Meridith Byrd

It's hot out there, and the heat isn't letting up anytime soon. Electricity use has been so high in some parts of the country that rolling blackouts have been mandated in order to meet the high demand.

If that weren't enough, Texas is in the midst of what might become the worst drought in the state's recorded history.

According to the state climatologist, we have also recently seen the driest eight months on record through the end of May.

It's definitely time for a reminder to be mindful of our water and electricity use.

REDUCE YOUR ELECTRICITY USE

When you leave a room, be sure to turn off any lights and appliances, such as the television.

If you have a room that is rarely used, such as a guest room, close the air conditioning vents so that you are not wasting that cool air on an empty room.

To avoid running the air conditioner at a high capacity during the day, bump your thermostat up when you are not home. If you have a programmable thermostat, you can set it at a higher temperature while you are at work and program it to begin cooling down the house an hour before you get home.

As your light bulbs burn out, replace them one by one with compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, which use less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs.

CFLs have come a long way in recent years and are now available in soft white and other colors, and some even look like incandescent bulbs.

USE WATER CAREFULLY

Don't linger in the shower or leave the water running while you brush your teeth; a typical bathroom faucet releases two to four gallons of water per minute.

When giving fresh water to your pet, pour the old water into a houseplant rather than down the drain.

Only wash full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine to maximize both water and energy efficiency.

When watering your lawn or flowerbeds, make sure to position the sprinkler so that water is not hitting the street, driveway or sidewalk. Choose a sprinkler that distributes the water in large droplets, rather than a fine mist, which loses a good amount of water to evaporation.

Of course, Victoria is under drought restrictions right now, so sprinklers must only be run from 6 to 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight. Watering early in the morning or in the evening ensures that evaporation is kept to a minimum.

Water is a limited resource; there is only so much available in our aquifers and rivers. Be mindful of letting it go to waste, especially right now when our rainfall levels approach historic lows.

Even though we are in the middle of a hot, dry summer, we can stay cool and comfortable while saving water and electricity.

Meridith Byrd is a marine biologist and invites read ers to contact her at meridith.byrd@gmail.com.

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