As we batten down the hatches and prepare for those hairdryer-hot ‘breezes’ of summer, most residents turn their A/C dials down as low as they’ll go and commit to the fact that electricity bills are going to be even less welcome over the next few months. Yet World Environment Day on Tuesday June 5 is a good time to pause and think about areas where you can afford to be a little more careful. Here we look at a few small, simple ways you can have a positive impact on your environment – and maybe even your finances – over summer.
Cut down on gardening
Dubai famously uses a lot of desalinated water, although the process of producing it comes at a cost to the environment and increases our carbon footprint. To cut down on water in your garden, introduce plants that are native to the UAE, such as port royal sienna and desert rose. These can survive throughout the summer and require less water to keep them alive. The best time to water your garden is in the morning, as the plants will then have enough water to sustain them throughout the day. Visit Al Awir nurseries (in Warsan, off Academic City Road), where local plants start from Dhs4.
Use water-saving appliances
Get yourself a water-saving tap attachment or monitor to let you know when to stop showering. The Green Ecostore in Mercato Mall (www.thegreenecostore.com) stocks a variety of energy and water-saving appliances that are easy to install, with prices from Dhs50 for a ‘Waterpebble’ shower monitor, featuring LED lights to tell you when to get out of the shower.
Fix your leaks
Mend any leaks in your household as soon as you spot them. Most people have leaks in their pipes without even knowing, and as a result lose as much as two showers-worth of water each day. If you can’t fix a leak yourself, or think you may have a leak but aren’t sure (a sudden lack of water pressure is a good indication), call your plumber to see what the problem is. Try MPlus+ (800 67587), which has various locations including Arabian Ranches, The Greens, Dubai Festival City and The Palm – a call-out will normally cost about Dhs200, which includes one-hour maintenance service and same- or next-day response.
Load to full capacity
If you use dishwashers or washing machines, make sure they are loaded to full capacity before turning them on, and manage how often you use the machines. Better yet, wash your dishes by hand, as it uses much less water than a dishwasher (and you’ll also burn around 19 more calories – roughly half a biscuit, which you can treat yourself to afterwards). Rinsing dishes before loading them in the dishwasher can waste up to 15 litres of water, so only rinse or soak the dishes if you know they won’t wash properly in the machine.
Taking a shower uses three times less water than a bath. Try a five-minute shower instead of lounging around in the bath and you can save up to 38 litres of water with each wash. What’s more, if you’ve spent all day hunched over a desk, your body – particularly the spine and muscle tissues in the back – will benefit from a standing posture and the greater amount of movement involved in showering.
Switch the taps off
Whenever you’re washing the dishes, cleaning fruit and veg or brushing your teeth, turn the taps off whenever they’re not actually being used. You’d be amazed at the amount of water this could save – just cutting off the flow of water while you’re brushing your teeth could save up to 11 litres a day – that’s more than 4,145 a year. By doing the same during your washing up, you’ll save a further 30 litres a day.