By Brittany Anas
Adopting a series of small eco-friendly habits at home isn’t just great for the environment. These sustainable strategies can also save you money on your utility bills, and, in some cases, lessen health risks.
From radon testing to detecting water leaks and taking energy-saving measures, we’ve rounded up ways that you and your family can lead a more sustainable and safer lifestyle, starting at home. Ahead of Earth Day (it’s April 22 this year), here are some easy-to-implement tips that are good for you, your wallet and Mother Earth.
Saving Energy (And Money) At Home
A home that runs on natural gas uses three times less energy than an all-electric home, according to Atmos Energy, which delivers natural gas to roughly 120,000 customers throughout Colorado, including Greeley and surrounding areas in the northeast.
An efficient energy source, natural gas will give you immediate heat for cooking, bathing and drying clothes. To help you trim back on your utility bills and conserve even more energy, you can make some easy adjustments at home. Here are some energy-saving tips Atmos Energy provided the Greeley Tribune:
Avoid blocking vents with furniture, area rugs or draperies. Have your heating contractor inspect and seal ductwork to make sure your home has adequate air flow. Leaky ducts can lose up to one-fifth of the air passing through them.
Use a programmable or smart thermostat to turn down temps automatically. For example, lowering your thermostat from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 65 degrees at night can save you $10 for every $100 of heating costs.
Insulate older windows using storm or thermal windows with double-paned glass. You can also seal leaks around windows, doors and openings by using caulking and weather stripping.
Take advantage of Colorado’s famed sunshine! Let in the sun’s warmth on sunny days by opening draperies and blinds. Just remember to close them at night to insulate against cold air.
Put water-flow restrictors in showerheads and faucets to scale back on your hot water use. Did you know that water-saving showerheads and faucet aerators can save up to 50 percent on your hot water use.
Test for Radon
Did you know that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer? Radon is an odorless, colorless, tasteless radioactive gas caused by the natural breakdown of uranium. The state of Colorado has abundant uranium deposits, and nearly 50 percent of all homes in the state have high radon levels, explains Gabri Vergara, consumer protection manager with the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment.
“The only way to know if your home has radon is to test,” Vergara says. “High radon levels can be easily reduced by installing a radon mitigation system, which typically costs no more than the cost of replacing your hot water heater.”
Weld County offers free-short term radon test kits. These are available one per household while supplies last. Kits can be requested online at: drhomeair.com/weld. Additional test kits can be purchased at a reduced cost at drhomeair.com/colorado.
“Testing your home is easy and doesn’t require a professional,” Vergara says. “Reducing the radon level in your home could reduce your and your family’s cancer risk.”
If you determine you have radon levels of 4 or greater picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air, you can install a mitigation system.
Check for Water Leaks
The average American household wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water each year from easy-to-fix water leaks. To put that in perspective, you could wash 270 loads of laundry with all of that wasted water. The City of Greeley Water Department participates in a Fix a Leak Week, a March event that helps educate residents on the easy steps they can take to save water.
Here are three easy steps the city recommends for conserving water:
Check for leaks. A simple way to detect toilet leaks, for instance, is by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Wait 10 minutes and then see if it appears in the toilet bowl. You’ll also want to look for leaky faucets.
Twist and tighten hose and pipe connections. Grab a wrench and firmly turn any leaking faucets or showerheads. To save your household more than 500 gallons each year, add a WaterSense labeled aerator onto each bathroom faucet to conserve water without noticing a difference in flow.
Replace fixtures with WaterSense labeled models if you can’t fix the drips. These models are certified to use 20 percent less water and perform as well or better than standard models. Replacing a showerhead along can save you up to 2,700 gallons.
Preparing Your Sprinklers for Summer
Leaks in your sprinkler system can cause your water bill to skyrocket. Ahead of summer, you can get a courtesy sprinkler inspection from Conserva Irrigation of Fort Collins, a company that provides sprinkler repairs, maintenance, and upgrades. If you’re looking to install or upgrade your sprinkler systems, Conserva Irrigation’s system can help you reduce water waste by up to 60 percent, which will yield you savings on your monthly water bill.
> Atmos Energy: For more information about natural gas, contact Atmos Energy, 1.866.286.6700, atmosenergy.com.
> Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment: For more information about radon testing, visit www.weldhealth.org/go/radon or contact Gabri Vergara at 970.400.2226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
> Greeley Water and Sewer: For more water-saving tips, visit greeleygov.com/services/ws/home.
> Conserva Irrigation of Fort Collins: For more information about sprinkler inspections and other services from Conserva Irrigation of Fort Collins (which serves the Northern Colorado area, including Greeley), call 970.633.3083 or visit conservairrigation.com/fort-collins.