Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water?

From your cable and Internet bill to utilities like heat and electricity, there are a lot of costs that must be added into your monthly budget (as I discovered upon moving into my first apartment). There are always ways, however, of cutting back on those expenses. You can save water and lower your water heating costs by installing a low-flow showerhead.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water?What is a low-flow showerhead, you ask? Here’s everything you need to know about this green home fixture:

What is a Low-Flow Showerhead?

In short, a low-flow showerhead is one that comes with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or less. While this still seems like quite a bit of water, these showerheads can actually decrease your shower water usage by about half.

A regular showerhead has a water flow of about 3.8 gallons per minute, so if you took an eight minute shower, you would be using approximately 30 gallons of water. But with a low-flow showerhead, you would only use about 20 gallons.

With this fixture, you’ll also need less energy to heat your shower, reducing your power bills.

How do Low-Flow Showerheads Work?

With a low-flow showerhead, it may not feel like you’re using less water, but you are. The showerhead restricts water flow while still maintaining a strong pressure, giving you the experience of a normal shower.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water - How do Low-Flow Showerheads WorkThere are actually two different types of low-flow showerheads: aerating and non-aerating.

Aerating showerheads mix air in with the water stream. This maintains strong water pressure while still using less water than a traditional showerhead. However, because there is air combined with the water, the temperature may not stay as hot for as long as traditional showerheads.

A non-aerating showerhead doesn’t use air; instead, it pulses to keep the pressure strong. The water with a non-aerating showerhead tends to be hotter because there is no introduction of air.

How to Measure Your Current Flow Rate

In order to discover whether you would benefit from a low-flow showerhead, it’s important to figure out the flow rate of your current fixture. Turn on your shower and let the water run into a bucket for 10 seconds, then turn it off.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water? How to Measure Your Current Flow RateMeasure the amount of water that’s in your bucket, then multiply that figure by six. The number you end up with will be your water flow per minute, or gallons per minute. If your shower is releasing about 3.8 gallons or more per minute, think about replacing your current showerhead with a low-flow fixture.

Here’s another helpful rule of thumb: If it takes fewer than 20 seconds for your showerhead to fill up a 1-gallon bucket, you could benefit from installing a more environmentally friendly fixture.

Which Low-Flow Showerhead is Best for Your Bathroom?

If you’ve chosen to get a low-flow showerhead for your bathroom, then you must decide which type you would like. You could opt for the traditional stationary model or a handheld showerhead that’s attached to a flexible hose.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water? Which Low-Flow Showerhead is Best for Your Bathroom?

While handheld models may offer convenience, they’re typically a bit more expensive than the stationary fixtures. However, a handheld showerhead may be slightly more environmentally friendly than the traditional model because there is less distance between the showerhead and your body.

Other Green Bathroom Ideas

Installing a low-flow showerhead isn’t the only way you can go green. Here are a few other bathroom ideas that may lower your overall energy costs:

Use Green Cleaning Products: Some bathroom cleaners contain harsh chemicals, which is why it’s more environmentally friendly (and often cheaper) to just make your own.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water? Other Green Bathroom Ideas

For instance, a tub cleaner can be made using 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup vegetable oil-based liquid soap, 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Mildew can be removed by mixing 1/2 cup vinegar with 1/2 cup borax.

Rethink Your Towels: Think about swapping your current regular cotton towels for towels made from organic cotton. This material requires the use of fewer pesticides, natural dyes and softeners, making it better for your skin and for the environment.

Bamboo towels are another eco-friendly choice, as bamboo is a fast-growing sustainable alternative to cotton, not to mention it has antibacterial properties.

Fix Leaks: A simple leak in your tub or sink might not seem like a big deal, but you may actually be losing a lot of water. Talk to your landlord about the problem and get it fixed as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can put a bucket under the leak and use the collected water to hydrate your houseplants.

Replace Your Shower Curtain: Many shower curtains are made of polyvinyl chloride, otherwise known as PVC plastic. The material actually releases chemical gases, and it can’t be recycled. Instead, opt for a PVC-free shower curtain. Hemp shower curtains, for instance, are resistant to mold and mildew.

Take Shorter Showers: A low-flow showerhead can only do so much to save water when you’re taking extremely long showers. Do your best to cut back on your bathing time by creating a five-minute playlist of a song or two. This way, you’ll know exactly how long you have before you should turn off the water.

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Should You Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water- -If you do, you can save water, money, and help out the environment!Photo Credit: Andre ChinnPhotoAtelierMo ElnadiJohn RyanSquiggle

Energy Saving Tips That Won’t Force You to Sacrifice Comfort

Now is the time start thinking about your energy consumption because the weather is getting warmer. The heat of summer will arrive before you know it, which means turning up the air conditioner in your apartment. Whether you’re trying to beat the heat or illuminate your place, you use energy.

Energy Saving Tips That Won't Force You to Sacrifice Comfort

Fortunately, decreasing your carbon footprint doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort. Check out these energy saving tips to reduce your environmental impact and prevent your air conditioner from over working:

Install and Use Ceiling Fans

Using ceiling fans allows you to decrease the temperature in your home or apartment by 4 degrees Fahrenheit without losing any comfort. Though it may not sound like much, those 4 degrees can add up when it comes time to pay the bills.

Ceiling fans circulate air, preventing heat from hanging near the ceiling. They also promote ventilation by pushing air out of the window and pulling in cool breezes. If your apartment does not have a ceiling fan, ask your landlord to install one or ask if you can purchase one yourself.

Many apartments already have ceiling fans installed, so make the most of your fan by using it. This spring, dust the blades and be sure the fan works. Then you can turn it on and decrease the air conditioning energy you consume come summer.

Hang Light Curtains

Some energy saving tips don’t require as much planning as others, and curtains are one of the easy alterations you can make. Warm sunlight can heat your apartment as it streams in through your windows, but hanging curtains will reduce that greenhouse effect.

Energy Saving Tips That Won't Force You to Sacrifice Comfort- Hang Light Curtains

You can still enjoy the comfort of natural light by choosing window treatments made of sheer fabric. They help diffuse sunlight while promoting illumination. Keep the curtains closed during the day and increase the temperature on your thermostat to go green. You’ll still feel cool because the sun won’t be heating your apartment.

Prevent Heat Gain

Many apartments have wall- or window-mounted air conditioning units. While these devices do help cool the apartment, it’s easy to seal them improperly. If the unit isn’t airtight, you could be letting hot air into the apartment (which forces your air conditioner to work harder to reduce indoor temperatures). Use caulk to seal the edges around your air conditioning unit, which will prevent heat from outdoors entering the room.

You’ll notice that the room stays cooler longer and that you can turn the thermostat up a few degrees without feeling uncomfortable. Every degree counts!

Lighten Up

Believe it or not, the color of your decor can make your apartment hotter or colder. Dark colors absorb light and bright ones reflect it (a phenomenon known as albedo). Decorate your apartment with bright shades to prevent heat gain as a result of absorption.

Energy Saving Tips That Won't Force You to Sacrifice Comfort - Lighten Up

It’s the same principle as not wearing black in the summer. You’ll feel more comfortable and cool with light colors in your apartment. Pick white, beige and pastels for your warm-weather palette. Cooling your place naturally may help save energy costs because your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard.

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Energy Saving Tips That Won't Force You to Sacrifice Comfort!

Photo Credit: Domiziana S.Wayfair, Marius Kallhardt

Urban Biking: A New (Old) Way to Get Around on City Streets

Urban Biking: A New (Old) Way to Get Around on City StreetsThere’s a new focus on biking in many cities. And you might say the experience is as familiar as, well, riding a bike.

Cities across the nation are embracing green transportation options, and one of those is perhaps the greenest of them all.

Bicycles allow city-dwellers to get around with relative ease, as long as they are energetic and careful – and all without burning fossil fuels.

This tried, true and tested mode of getting around – ok, it’s a little tiring, too — just might revolutionize cityscapes.

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Plant a Windowsill Herb Garden and Let the Sun Shine In

Make sure you put something under the pots to protect your windowsill.

Make sure you put something under the pots to protect your windowsill.

Nothing brightens up your apartment like a few houseplants – not only for pretty décor, but for cleaning your indoor air as well. But you need an outdoor garden if you want to grow anything edible, right?

Think again! Even if you don’t have outdoor soil to plant in, you can still grow your own edible plants with a windowsill herb garden. Small herbs grow well in individual pots or long, narrow troughs that you can place right on your windowsill, where they’ll get plenty of sunshine.

Best of all, when you’re cooking a delicious dish that calls for a dash of rosemary, you can just reach right over and snip off a sprig. It’s good for your health, the planet and your dinner.

Ready to get planting? Here’s how to do it.

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How to DIY a Citrus Vinegar Cleaning Spray

An orange, some vinegar, an empty Mason jar and an empty spray bottle are all you need to make your own citrus vinegar cleaning spray.

An orange, some vinegar, an empty Mason jar and an empty spray bottle are all you need to make your own citrus vinegar cleaning spray.

If you’ve made the switch to green cleaners, you’ve made a smart, healthy choice for yourself and your household. And if you choose to DIY your own cleaning solutions, even better! Making your own cleaners is cheaper, healthier and better for the environment than buying toxic commercial cleaners.

Even if you’re not crafty, don’t be daunted by the DIY process. In fact, there’s only one ingredient you really need to make most DIY cleaners: Vinegar. It’s a wonder solution for killing germs and removing odors. But let’s be honest: It doesn’t smell great. Fortunately, you can take advantage of vinegar’s cleaning power without that pickled smell. Here’s how to make your own citrus vinegar cleaning spray.

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5 Ways to Prepare Your Apartment for Summer

A nice glass of iced tea is a great way to cool off in the summer, so make sure you have plenty of ice in your apartment.

A nice glass of iced tea is a great way to cool off in the summer, so make sure you have plenty of ice in your apartment.

If you’re like us, you’re enjoying planting flowers and putting away your heavy sweaters as the last chill of winter gives way to the warmth of spring. The warmer weather is always welcome – until it gets too hot, that is. Summer’s not far off, and with it will come soaring temperatures that can leave you uncomfortable in your apartment.

You can’t do anything to ward off the dog days of summer, but you can prepare your home ahead of time so those sweltering days don’t bother you too much. Here’s how to ensure you’ll be cool as a cucumber when the heat hits.

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Take a Tip from Tucson: Conserving Water in Your Apartment is an Easy Way to Observe Earth Day

Click to see the full infographic!

Click to see the full infographic!

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22 – and we’ve got water on our minds.

Saving water in your apartment, that is.

Water is perhaps the most necessary substance we need for life, yet because of its easy availability, it is equally easy to take for granted.

In cities where location makes water more difficult to find, citizens often step up to the challenge. We’ve noticed a city where conserving water is taken just this seriously. Tucson, Arizona, has risen to the challenge of careful water conservation with great results.

Read on for a discussion of Tucson’s Earth-loving achievements, as well as a few easy tips to help you remember to conserve water in your own home.

A desert city where conservation is a priority
Consider places in the country where fresh water is harder or more expensive to come by. In desert cities, like Tucson, AZ, water is all the more valuable because of its scarcity.

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Cheap Green Cleaning: The Only 5 Products You Need

Baking soda is super cheap and can be used in all sorts of ways around your apartment.

Baking soda is super cheap and can be used in all sorts of ways around your apartment.

When it comes to spring cleaning, the only way to do it right is to go green. Not only are non-toxic cleaning products better for your health, there’s another bonus: This is one of those times when going green also saves you money! Not only are the following five ingredients good for your health and your home’s cleanliness, they also cost way less to keep on hand than commercial cleaners.

Ready to start scrubbing? Read on to learn about the only five weapons you’ll need in your cleaning arsenal:

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How to Make DIY Draft Stoppers

Draft stoppers block outside air from seeping into your place, making your windows more efficient and saving you money.

Draft stoppers block outside air from seeping into your place, making your windows more efficient and saving you money.

When you walk past the windows or doors in your apartment, do you feel an icy draft? If so, you’ve got leaky windows, which make your apartment inefficient and run up your heating or cooling bill. Since you can’t replace the windows in an apartment, you might feel helpless – but you’re not! All you need is a little insulation.

Draft stoppers – also called draft blockers, draft dodgers, or door/window snakes – are simple: They’re just tubes made of fabric and filled with an insulating material that you place at the base of your windows or doors, where most leaks happen. Making your own draft stopper is a fun, simple DIY project that took me less than an hour.

Here’s how I did it:

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Top Ten Metros for Green-Friendly Apartments

Top Ten Metros for Green-Friendly ApartmentsAccording to a survey of 200,000 apartment residents conducted by the National Multi Housing Council and Kingsley Associates, 71% expressed interest in green considerations for apartment living. For 23% of respondents, green practices were a basic requirement in choosing an apartment community.

Apartment Guide has assembled the top cities with apartment communities which actively support green living. According to our data, more apartments in these ten cities offer a combination of apartment options with LEED Certification, energy-efficient windows, lighting and plumbing, and drought-resistant landscaping to help use water more efficiently.

If you value an apartment living experience that embraces conservation and green living, you’re sure to find a home you’ll be proud of in one of these cities!

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