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Give Your Clothes a Break

Watching your water use can make a difference

MAY 2022

by Jason Gilbert, Contributing Columnist

Did you know you can safely and effectively wash clothes in cold water? Yes, and doing so will keep them from shrinking and can extend their life.

Many people grew up thinking you had to wash clothes in hot water to kill germs. Not anymore. Today’s detergents do that in cold water. Using cold water, instead of warm or hot, saves energy and money.


There are other ways you can save energy associated with your water heater. One of the advertisements in this issue of Cooperative Living wisely suggests lowering the temperature your water heater maintains.

Think of your water heater as a big thermos that is trying to maintain the set temperature 24 hours a day, year-round, just so you will have hot water when you decide to use it.

Lowering the temperature saves year-round, and lowering it is easy to do on most water heaters. Simply lower it to 120 degrees. Most water heaters get installed with the temperature set at 140 degrees or even higher. If you find you are running out of hot water, you can always raise it a few degrees.


Also, watch out for any dripping faucets, shower heads or even toilet flappers. It is amazing how much water they can waste. If you see any dripping faucets, they can often be fixed easily and inexpensively by replacing the washer.

Similarly, replacing a leaky toilet flapper is easy. Go online and find a video for your faucet or toilet, and take a trip to your local hardware store to get replacements.

There are plenty of other ways to save water. Instead of tub baths, short showers can cut water consumption in half. When at your sink waiting for the hot water to arrive, use that initial cold water to brush your teeth, rather than letting it run and be wasted.

These may sound like small things, but they add up. And your behavior is teaching your children and others in the home how to make a difference and tread more gently on our planet.

You can find more tips and calculators designed to help you make good choices in your use of energy on your utility company’s website under headings like Energy Resource Center.

Joel Gilbert is president and chief software architect at Apogee Interactive, the software firm that provides online energy calculators and energy-saving tips for cooperatives throughout the mid-Atlantic. Find helpful tools on your local cooperative’s website.