Take Care of Texas™ Offers Tips to Save Water, Energy, and Money This Spring
Today marks the first day of spring, and while we can enjoy milder temperatures, the TCEQ says now is the time to prepare our living and outdoor spaces for the eventual arrival of summer heat. The agency’s Take Care of Texas program makes it easier for everyone to do their part to help conserve our state’s natural resources, and save money at the same time.
“As Texans, we all take on a personal responsibility to our state,” says TCEQ Commissioner Zak Covar. “Preparing for the summer heat now, with these simple, cost-effective water and energy conservation measures, will help us all to do our part to Take Care of Texas.”
Lawn and garden watering can make up nearly 40 percent of a Texan's total household water use; but if you prepare your yard this spring, you can do your part to save water.
• Fine-tune your irrigation system. Properly zone the system so turf areas are watered separately from the landscape and flowerbeds. Schedule each irrigation zone to account for the type of sprinkler, sun exposure, and soil type. Check sprinkler heads for dirt and debris that clogs the nozzle and adjust the heads to avoid watering pavement.
• Capture spring showers and use them to water your landscape. Rainwater is better for plants than chemically treated water and it’s free.
• Add mulch and compost. Mulch helps prevent erosion, suppress weeds, moderate soil temperature, and adds nutrients to your lawn and garden. Compost serves as a soil conditioner that will help improve your garden and reduce your water usage. By using mulch and compost on lawns and gardens, Texans could reduce the need for outdoor watering by 30 to 60 percent.
• Use native plants. Plants native to Texas are beautiful; and they typically require less water, pesticides, fertilizers, and maintenance—saving you time and money. The deep root systems of many native plants also increase the soil's capacity to store water and reduce runoff. In addition, native plants attract a variety of birds, and butterflies, by providing diverse habitats and food sources.
In Texas, cooling and heating accounts for as much as 50 percent of annual home energy expenses. This spring, you can do your part to prepare your home for the summer heat while helping to keep our air clean.
• Install a programmable thermostat, which can save the average household up to $180 per year. Adjust to the warmer temperature by setting the thermostat at 78 degrees or higher.
• Maintain your cooling system. Routinely replace your air conditioner filter. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter can lower your air conditioner's energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent. Check your evaporator coil every year and clean it as necessary.
• Install efficient lighting that runs cooler. Only about 10 to 15 percent of the electricity that incandescent lights consume results in light—the rest is turned into heat. Replacing incandescent bulbs in your five most frequently used light fixtures with compact fluorescent can save you more than $65 a year in electricity.
• Keep hot air from leaking into your home. Weatherizing by using caulk and weather-stripping for seams, cracks, and openings to the outside of your home, can save you 10 percent on your energy bill. Properly insulating your home, in addition to weatherizing, can reduce heating and cooling costs up to 20 percent.
For many more tips to conserve water and energy, keep our air and water clean, and reduce waste, visit TakeCareOfTexas.org. While you’re there, pledge to Take Care of Texas and we’ll say thanks by mailing you a free Texas State Park guide.