Conservation begins with you, and the things that you do every day at home!
The word “conservation” is used a lot these days, especially when it comes to fuel, money, savings, and energy. Sometimes the word has negative connotations because people immediately think they have to do without something. But, according to The American Heritage Dictionary, conservation doesn’t mean doing without…
Conservation means “the act or process of conserving — carefully or sparingly, avoiding waste.”
Because we all want to breathe clean air, drink pure water, and ensure that future generations are able to do the same, all of us need to be concerned about protecting the environment and conserving our natural resources.
The Public Service Commission, the agency charged with regulating most utilities in Florida, has recognized the importance of educating consumers about the growing need to conserve the state’s limited energy and water resources. This booklet gets right to the heart of conservation. It contains a variety of ideas on ways to use energy and water wisely and to make homes more energy-efficient. Following these simple steps will help you save money now and in the future by helping to reduce your energy and water needs.
Many of the tips require little effort — weather stripping doors and windows, planting shrubs that require little water and trees to shade your home, installing low-flow shower heads and water restrictors.
Some suggestions are more involved — wrapping your water heater, buying energy-efficient appliances, and considering the purchase of a heat pump for your home.
Other conservation tips may require a change in habits — keeping the thermostat at an energy-efficient setting, using the dishwasher only when full, and not letting your kitchen sink water run excessively.
Utilities understand that conservation and the efficient use of resources must be considered as a responsible approach to protecting the environment and reducing costs. Electric and water utilities are encouraging their customers to use less, recognizing that our resources are finite and that building new power plants is a huge economic burden. All of us working together will ensure that future generations have a safe, clean environment and an adequate supply of energy and water.
“Xeriscape” refers to water-efficient landscaping. Your landscape can be more water-efficient by utilizing the water-wise concepts of xeriscape. These concepts have been tried and tested by industry professionals over time.
Well-planned sprinkler systems save water. Landscape plantings should be grouped according to similar water needs. Turf is best watered by sprinklers. Plants and most trees can be watered efficiently with low-volume drip or spray. And water only when needed. During Florida winters, many plants and lawns enter a dormant phase that requires much less watering.
In order to keep your xeriscape looking its best and to minimize water waste, it is necessary to develop and follow a maintenance plan. And, this important tip: Keep the landscape free of weeds, to reduce competition for water.
Planning and design
Create a landscape that will be easy to maintain. Keep in mind that perennials are water-efficient. Local nurseries are usually happy to advise customers on which plants and trees are efficient and grow well in the area.
Soil improvements allow for better absorption of water and improve water-holding capacity of the soil. Soils that have organic matter also provide beneficial nutrients to plants.
In Brevard County, you can order soil samples from the University of Florida, UF/IFAS. It’s $7 a sample and is as simple as putting dirt in a bag and mailing it off.
Visit this site for more info: http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/brevardco/2018/01/25/get-soil-tested-now/
Practical Turf Areas
Locate turf only in areas where it provides functional benefits. Groundcovers, low-water-demand plants or mulches demand less water than turf. When designing your space, you can greatly reduce maintenance and mowing, by limiting grass.
Appropriate Plant Selection
Many plants sold in Florida have a xeriscape tag. Try to use these plants and trees when designing a landscape. Drought-tolerant turfs are also available. Use native plants when you can. They have adapted to living in Brevard and probably use less water and are much easier to maintain. Visit our article on Maple Street Natives for more information.
Mulched plant beds are an excellent replacement for turf areas. Mulches cover and cool soil, minimizing evaporation. Using mulch also helps reduce landfill waste. Mulch around trees and flower beds. Plant beds should have 3 inches of organic mulch. Check and add mulch periodically.
Set the lawn mower at the maximum height recommended for your type of grass. Mow the grass enough so that not more than one-third of grass height is removed.
Pruning should be done as needed to maintain the appearance and health of the landscaping plants. Prune, clip and trim selectively according to the needs of each type of plant or tree.
Reduce Energy and Water Use
Energy and water use are closely tied to an individual’s productivity, health and comfort. Too much or too little heating, cooling, or lighting can make workers unproductive, customers unresponsive, and visitors or other occupants uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce energy and water consumption and costs without adversely affecting anyone. And some improvements, such as reducing glare and over lighting, can actually add to health and productivity as well as saving money. Many of the tips listed in this booklet are not exclusively linked to one resource.
For example, steps you take to reduce your water usage may lower your hot water heating costs. Other improvements you make to your home, such as adding insulation in the attic, will not only protect your home but will also lower both your cooling and heating costs.
Florida Public Service Commission
If you have any questions about the energy and water-saving tips we’ve listed, please call the Florida Public Service Commission’s Division of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-342-3552. You may also want to call your local county extension office, your water management district representative, or your local utility office.