Working from Home
Working from home may be our new normal at the moment, but that doesn’t mean your energy usage needs to exceed a normal range. Here are a few tips to help you improve efficiency while you manage a healthy & safe work-life balance:
- Turn off computers and other office equipment when not in use for an extended period of time. If powering down every time isn’t ideal, make sure your computers are set to switch to “sleep mode.”
- Use an advanced power strip. When working at home, you may be using a printer/copier, scanner, fax, phone or charger, and perhaps other electronics. It’s more important than ever to use advanced power strips to ensure these devices aren't drawing power when they're not in use.
- Use lighting wisely. A desk lamp is usually more efficient than whole room lighting; avoid using both at the same time. If you’re still using incandescent light bulbs it’s time to replace them with light emitting diodes (LEDs).
- Take advantage of natural light. Especially during the day, it’s easy to forget to turn off lights in rooms not in use. Open drapes or blinds in your home office, even if it doesn't get direct sunlight. If using a laptop, move to where the natural light is strongest, so you won't have to use overhead lights or desk lamps. Natural light is known to boost mood and productivity.
- Contact the Home Efficiency Genie for an analysis of your utility bill and usage. The Genie may be able to provide customized advice for your home to help you begin saving energy and water right away. Contact the Genie at (650) 713-3411 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Save Energy and Stay Cool Around the Home
Home energy usage will increase with more time at home. Here are some quick around-the-home energy efficiency tips to control usage and costs.
- Change or clean the filter for different home appliances, including AC and heating systems, gas furnaces, dehumidifiers, air purifiers and heat pump water heaters. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder, using more energy. Some filters can be cleaned and reused while others need to be replaced. Periodic cleaning or replacements of air filters will improve the efficiency of the appliance.
- Spring is in full bloom, which means warm weather is ahead! If your home has air conditioning and you are only using one or two rooms at a time, consider adjusting the thermostat and using a ceiling fan to maintain comfort. Make sure your ceiling fan is set to rotate counterclockwise in the summer to push down the cold air. You can reverse its direction to clockwise in winter, which pushes warm air down.
Indoor Water Efficiency and Savings
Staying at home means more dishes, laundry, and handwashing, which can lead to higher water usage. Here are a few tips to help you lower your water usage while staying safe during shelter-in-place:
- Turning off the water when brushing your teeth or shaving can save up to 10 gallons per person per day!
- Shower for only 5 minutes to save up to 12.5 gallons of water per shower. You can save even more if you have an efficient showerhead.
- Need a bath to relax? Filling the bathtub halfway or less can save you up to 12 gallons per bath. When laundry day comes around, washing full loads can save 15-45 gallons per load.
- When laundry day comes around, washing full loads can save 15-45 gallons per load.
- Check for possible leaks, fixing them can save you up to 110 gallons each month. Refer to Valley Water's survey for tutorials to check for possible leaks in your home.
- Run Full Loads - Load it up. Dishwashers use about the same energy and water regardless of the number of dishes inside.
- Scrape, Don't Rinse - Rinsing dishes can use up to 20 gallons of water before the dishes are even loaded. Save yourself the rinsing and scrape food off dishes.
- Setting Air-Dry Option - Use the air-dry option. Avoid using the heat-dry, rinse-hold and pre-rinse features.
- Set Water Temperature - Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the recommended water temperature. It may have an internal heating element that allows you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature.
Water Efficiency for Landscape
The State Department of Water Resources requires cities and counties in California to enforce a Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance or local ordinance that is at least as effective as the State's model ordinance for achieving water savings. The City of Palo Alto integrated its outdoor water use efficiency guidelines into the adoption of the State Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen).
New construction and renovation projects that include landscaping must comply with State and City requirements for landscape water efficiency. Please refer to the City of Palo Alto's Development Services Division for the most current requirements of the Model Water Efficiency Landscape Ordinance.
We know Palo Altans love their green front yards and landscape. Here are a few tips to stay green while lowering your water usage:
- Did you know that setting your mower blades to 3” not only encourages deeper root growth, but also save you 16-50 gallons of water per day?
- Switch the hose for a broom when cleaning outdoor areas. This can save you 8-18 gallons per minute.
- Adjust the sprinkler heads and check for leaks. This can save you 12-15 gallons each sprinkling cycle. A leak as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month!
Rebates and Workshops
The City of Palo Alto Utilities Department offers workshops and rebates to assist you in this effort.
- Rebate Information for Residents
- Rebate Information for Businesses
- Palo Alto workshops and training programs related to landscaping
Water Efficient Landscape Design Resources
- Landscape and new construction rebates for homeowners and businesses
- General information on water efficient landscapes
- Residential toolkit
- Residential landscapes
- Parks and commercial landscapes
- California invasive plant material list and recommendations
- Reference evapotranspiration information
- Irrigation controller information
- BayFriendly gardening practices
- BAWSCA’s Water Wise Gardening information
- Guides to pest control and more
- A helpful guide to free, fungally-dominated composting
- A homeowners guide to storm water runoff