The City of Gardner actively promotes utility conservation in an effort to lessen the cost of utilities for its residents and businesses. The residents and businesses of Gardner can do their part in keeping utility costs lower and utility production at an optimal level by conserving their consumption of utilities. Listed below are measures that can be taken by the residents of Gardner to help in water and energy conservation. Additionally, Gardner's own utilities have information located within the City Utilities section to provide you further information on ways to conserve.
The average person uses almost 100 gallons of water per day on the following activities: bathing and hygiene, toilet, laundry, kitchen, housekeeping, and outdoor activities such as watering one's lawn. Awareness is the first step in conservation and water can be conserved by making improvements both outside and inside the home.
The largest source of outdoor water use for most households is watering lawns and gardens. Watering lawns and gardens can double normal household water usage during the summer months. In addition to the extra financial expense of watering lawns, it also leads to water shortages. Fortunately, there are several preventative measures and modifications that can be made to conserve water.
Here are several tips for outdoor water conservation:
- Consider equipping your watering hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle
- Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways, steps and sidewalks
- Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. A garden hose can pour out 600 gallons of water or more in only a few hours. Use a kitchen timer or some other time tracking device to remind yourself to turn sprinklers off.
- Use mulch around shrubs and garden plants to reduce evaporation and cut down on weed growth
- Maintain a lawn height of 2 1/2 to 3 inches to help protect the roots from heat stress and reduce the loss of moisture to evaporation
- A lawn with deep roots requires less water and is more resistant to drought and disease
- Avoid planting turf in areas that are difficult to irrigate properly such as steep inclines and isolated strips along sidewalks and driveways.
Indoor Water Conservation
Another area in which water is improvidently wasted is inside of the home. Small wastes of water that often go unnoticed within the home, such as a dripping faucet or extended showers, can add up over time. Additionally, it can dramatically raise water usage levels which leads to more expensive water bills.
Here are several tips for indoor water conservation:
- Retrofit or replace water fixtures. Water saving devices are economical and permanent. Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators save valuable water and energy used to heat water without requiring changes in personal water use habits.
- Repair all leaks. Dripping faucets, for example, might be small leaks but over time can use a large amount of water. Leaks inside the toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day; consider an ultra-low flush toilet.
- Be mindful of shower length and install a water-saving showerhead
- Turn off water while brushing teeth and shaving
- Only run dishwasher when it is fully loaded
- Set your clothes washing machine to the proper water level for the size of the load
For more information please visit the water conservation page.
Energy conservation is important because by encouraging energy conservation among consumers the results are cheaper energy bills and more environmentally sensitive alternatives to increased energy production. The need to increase the available supply of energy is lessened if the demand for energy can be reduced, or if growth in demand can be slowed. Individuals and organizations in the City of Gardner that are direct consumers of energy may want to conserve energy in order to reduce heating or electrical bills. There are several strategies to conserve energy including seasonal improvements or adjustments to one's home or business and a well-designed landscape.
Summer Energy Conservation
Up to 45% of your home or business energy costs are heating and cooling. Especially in the summer months when the outdoor temperature rises, our immediate reaction is to effectually cool our homes by drastically lowering the thermostat. While maintaining conservative thermostat levels for one's air conditioner is one of the most effective ways to conserve energy during the summer months, there are also several other tips that can lead to better summer energy conservation.
Tips for Summer Energy Conservation:
- Set thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.
- Consider an interior fan in conjunction with your window or HVAC air conditioner to spread cooler air more effectively throughout your home or business without greatly increasing your energy use.
- Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect the heat away from your home or business
- Close curtains on south and west-facing windows during the day
- Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows to reduce solar gain
Winter Energy Conservation
Weather stripping and caulking is probably the least expensive, simplest, and most effective way to cut down on energy waste in the winter. Improperly sealed homes can waste 10 to 15 percent of the homeowner's heating dollars. It is also important to maintain proper thermostat levels when heating your home during the winter months.
Tips for Winter Energy Conservation:
- Check around doors and windows for leaks and drafts. Add weather-stripping and caulk any holes you see that allow heat to escape.
- Close the damper on your fireplace when it is not in use. Your chimney functions as a large open window that draws warm air out of the room and creates a draft; this can be prevented by closing the damper when the fireplace is not in use.
- Programmable thermostats allow you to conveniently maintain the comfort of your home when you're there and reduce energy costs when you're away
- To balance comfort and efficiency, set your thermostat between 68-70 degrees when heating your home
- During the winter, close your curtains and shades at night and open them during the day
- Don't block vents or ducts inside the house to assure air flow in the home
Landscaping for Energy Conservation
Landscaping is a cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing way to lower your energy bills. Planting trees, shrubs, vines, grasses and hedges may be you best long-term investment for reducing heating and cooling costs. Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of a household's energy consumption for heating and cooling. Computer models devised by the U.S. Department of Energy predict that the proper placement of only 3 trees will save an average household between $100-$250 annually in energy costs.
- Plant trees or shrubs to shade air-conditioning units. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than if it was operating in the sun.
- Deciduous trees (elm, red maple, American maple, willow, beech, etc.) planted on the south and west will help keep your home cool in the summer and allow sun to shine in the windows in the winter. An 8-foot deciduous tree costs about as much as an awning for one large window and can ultimately save your household hundreds of dollars in reduced cooling costs.
- Evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and west sides of your house deflect winter winds
- On average, a well-designed landscape provides enough energy savings to return your initial investment in less than 8 years.
Recycling is collecting, processing and reusing materials that would otherwise be thrown away. We can make new recycled paper products from recycled paper instead of wood pulp; new aluminum cans from recycled aluminum cans; new glass bottles from recycled glass bottles and new metal products like car parts from tin cans.
Other Conservation Websites
There are many useful sites on the Internet that offer great water, energy, and general conservation tips. The following are reliable government and recognized organization websites: