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.

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.

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.
Measure 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.

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.

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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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

When I was little, my parents used to tell me to not let the bed bugs bite when they would tuck me in at night. Back then, the phrase was almost comforting, and I didn’t think much of it. After all, I didn’t know exactly what they were.

Now that I’m older and know that bed bugs are very real, that statement suddenly comes with a much scarier connotation. The last thing I want to think about before I shut my eyes is sleeping with bed bugs.

If you don’t already know what a bed bug is, they’re small, brown insects that resemble an apple seed. They feed off of the blood of other animals and humans, so they definitely don’t make for good bunkmates.

Here’s a brief guide on bed bug prevention and how to get rid of them if you have an infestation:

1. Buy Encasements for Your Bed

Purchasing an encasement for your bed and box spring won’t necessarily prevent bed bugs from getting to your mattress, but it does make them easier to get rid of. The encasement stops the bugs from being able to get inside the mattress, forcing them to crawl on the exterior.

This makes the bugs very easy to spot, and you can then take the proper steps to get rid of them, which I’ll get to later.

2. Be Careful About Returning from Vacation

It can be easy to pick up bed bugs when you travel, as they tend to hide in hotel mattresses and box springs. Therefore, it’s best to unpack your suitcase somewhere other than your bedroom.

Throw all of your clothes directly into the wash, and make sure to vacuum your suitcase before putting it back into storage.

3. Regularly Wash Sheets and Clothing

While bed sheets can be a pain to take on and off, you should still wash them once a week. Dust, debris, and sweat can build up over time, and washing the sheets frequently in hot water kills those germs and potential bed bugs.

If there are any stains or spots, use a damp cloth and some upholstery shampoo to remove them. Make sure to wring out the cloth, as you don’t want to soak the mattress – this will only damage the padding and attract mold and bacteria.

4. Make Sure You’re Dealing With Bed Bugs

Don’t jump to conclusions if you wake up with a bite. There could be other insects responsible, like mosquitos, spiders, fleas or ticks. It’s important to know how to identify a bed bug. Typically, they’re the size of an apple seed, brown in color and have a flat, oval-shaped body.

They may be more reddish-brown if they recently ate. You should also look for bed bug eggs, which are pearl white and the size of a pinhead. If you’re still unsure what insect you’re dealing with, you can call pest control to help figure it out.

5. Clean Your Bedding

If you do discover that you have a bed bug infestation, the first step is to clean all of your sheets, pillows, blankets, clothing, etc. Put everything in the washer in hot water, and dry them on the highest dryer setting as well.

Next, scrub your mattress (especially the seams) to get rid of the bed bugs and any eggs that may be there. After scrubbing, vacuum all surfaces of your room. When you’ve finished, take out the vacuum bag, put it inside a resealable container and set it in a garbage can outside. You don’t want any bed bugs escaping back into your room.

6. Hire Pest Control

While you can certainly clean up infested areas, getting rid of bed bugs for good typically requires the use of chemical treatments. Using chemicals on your own can be tricky, because not all treatments are safe for your mattress, or you, for that matter. You may want to call a pest control professional to ensure you exterminate your bed bugs properly.

It’s worth it to pay a professional to get it done, as you’ll rest easy knowing those pests won’t be returning. Make sure to choose the proper professional by going through dependable referral directories.

Any good company will give you a quote before treatment, so you know exactly what you’ll have to pay. These pest experts may also fill you in on how to prevent bed bugs in the future and work with you until your bug problem is completely gone.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Create a Flexible Grocery List to Save Money

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Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody!  I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.

Today I am going to share with you my strategy for creating a flexible grocery store list that will allow you to make the most of the sales happening in your local market. I often find that the problem with having a strict grocery list is that you miss out on what’s fresh or on sale. Oppositely, when you only buy what’s on sale you end up with a bunch of miscellaneous items that don’t go together. My method will help solve both of those problems, while making meals that won’t break the bank.

This method will help you plan out your week so you aren’t stuck with boring work lunches or scrambling to make dinner for your family. The proportions for the actual grocery list will need to be tailored depending on how many people you are feeding. The idea is to take the concept and mold it to your needs and lifestyle.

Here are 5 tips to get you started:

#1 Have three options for breakfast – buy the one with the best price.

Go to the grocery store with three possibilities in mind – perhaps eggs, yogurt and granola, and oatmeal – and buy the one that is cheapest. Maybe your favorite granola is having a sale that week – buy that – or maybe oatmeal is more cost effective because it will last you longer. I find it is easiest to choose when I have three options and narrow it down, rather than going with no plan at all.

#2 Pick a theme.

Perhaps you are craving Mexican or Indian or Mediterranean food that week – let that choice guide your shopping. This will create parameters to help guide you, as to avoid coming home with food items you don’t need or won’t go together.

#3 Loosely structure a grocery list.

The example below will help you understand this point further, but the general idea is to create a list full of “generics” that can be tailored to your theme and sale prices. This may look like: 1 grain, 1 protein, 3 vegetables, 2 herbs, etc. (See example list below.)

#4 Consider versatility.

When selecting food, especially produce, choose foods that can be used for more than one meal, or foods that you like to eat both raw and cooked. This will provide more meal options for you as well as help save you money.

#5 Don’t forget the essentials.

Always add oils, spices, flour, herbs, and lemon to your grocery list. These things can help diversify your meals by creating marinades or dressings. They can also be customized based on the theme or what is on sale.

To illustrate just how easy this can be,  I’ve provided an example grocery list along with three meal possibilities you could make!

 

Grocery List

Theme: Mexican

Breakfast choices: eggs, yogurt and granola, or oatmeal

  • 1 grain
    • rice, brown rice, quinoa, etc.
  • 2 proteins
    • chicken, steak, chickpeas, eggs, etc.
  • 1 green
    • spinach, romaine, swiss chard, kale, etc.
  • 3-4 vegetables
    • red onion, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc.
  • 1 cheese
    • cotijia, goat cheese, Mexican cheese, etc.
  • 1 carb
    • tortillas, flatbread, potatoes, etc.
  • 1 fruit
    • bananas, berries, apples, grapes, etc.
  • 2 herbs
    • cilantro, mint, parsley, etc.
  • 3 lemons
 

Example Meals:

  • Salad with greens, chopped raw vegetables, protein, herbs, cheese, and olive oil and lemon for dressing. Served with fruit on the side.
  • Wrap with greens, cooked vegetables, protein, cheese and herbs. Served with fruit on the side.
  • Roasted sheet pan meal with vegetables and protein, topped with herbs, cheese, and lemon juice.
  • Grain bowl with protein, greens, cooked or raw vegetables, herbs, lemon and olive oil for dressing.
  • Frittata with eggs, vegetables, greens, cheese, and herbs baked.

I hope you try out this flexible grocery list concept – it will save some money, while inspiring some new work lunches or family dinners!

Follow along!

 

Over the next few months I’ll be covering a variety of ways to be healthy on a budget. Keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!

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Source: mint.intuit.com