Here in AZ we may have a dry heat, but there is still the sense of being baked alive when out in the sun too long! This time of year is our monsoons when there are cloudy afternoons, early evening rains, and breathtaking sunsets. Our humidity rises and the sensation of being baked is replaced with the sensation of being steamed alive!
In the desert we crave water and much of it is lost in runoff during the monsoons. There is ample water to be harvested to be used for plants, trees, grass, and even washing cars.
It’s nice if you can afford a ready made rain barrel that attaches to your gutter with a faucet attached. If you cannot afford one of those, there are these are alternatives:
- 5 gallon buckets with lids-leave open when it rains
- Trash can with lid (one on wheels makes it easy to move)-cut a hole in the top so the gutter drain will fit into it. If you are handy, drill a hole near the bottom and put a faucet on. Be sure to test for leaks
- Have water run off into gardens, trees, and grass. Create wells around trees, build up the sides of gardens and grassy areas so the water will stay near the plants
- Dig shallow “canals” from the gutter drain to plants. Connect gardens and trees so they can share water.
There are hundreds of gallons of free water just off and average roof, don’t waste it.
There are lots of ways to save money on utility bills. Not all of them will be able to be implemented immediately. Some of them will cost money and will have to pay for themselves before the savings will be experienced.
You may consider 2 priority lists, one with ways to save that cost little or nothing and larger ticket changes. Things to consider when creating a priority list of changes to reduce utility bills:
- Which utility bill is the highest
- Time of year and utility type of use
- Appliances that use the most energy
- Cost of change
- Low cost alternatives to high priced changes
- Amount of time it will take change to pay for itself
- Time involved in making changes
- Ratio of savings compared to time involved
- Activities that consume energy
Setting goals to reduce utility bills will increase the chance of success. When going through your list don’t cross out the changes made-highlight them! Post the list on the refrigerator to keep the changes on everyone’s mind. You can even include estimated savings next to each change. When you add them together, it will become a source of motivation.
The green house effect is well publicized. Carbon Dioxide (from exhaling, vehicle exhaust, etc) makes air heavier. When exposed to a light or heat source, it will heat up faster and maintain the higher temperatures longer than air higher in oxygen. This information can be used to reduce utility bills.
In your own little corner of the world, you can clean up the air with your landscaping. Plants use carbon dioxide, converts it to oxygen, and then releases it into the environment.
Here are a few ways to use landscaping to reduce utility bills:
- Around the house have plants that produce shade (especially on south and west sides of the house).
- Use plants with low water needs. Some shrubs and trees may need regular watering for the first two years while they become established.
- Pick shrubs and trees that can be cut back or shed their leaves in the winter so they don’t interfere with the sun warming the house.
- Trees that are used as a wind block should be evergreen to protect from cold winter winds.
- Use mulch or ground cover to slow down the rate soil dries out.
The increased oxygen in the air around the house from vegetation will help maintain lower air temperatures around the house. The shade from shrubs and trees will protect the house from the heat of the summer sun. Harvesting rainwater can help reduce the costs of watering the plants.