You probably know that the UAE has one of the highest ecological footprints in the world. But rather than big businesses or power plants being the main culprit, did you know that nearly 60 per cent of energy and water is actually consumed by the country’s domestic households? The Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS-WWF) recently did a study of three UAE homes (two villas and one apartment) and discovered that we could be saving an average of 30 per cent on our water and electricity consumption by giving our homes an eco-friendly makeover.
‘As well as the positive effect on the environment, the financial savings are large,’ explains Tamara Withers, programme manager for the Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF’s ‘Heroes of the UAE’ campaign. ‘Our case studies demonstrated an average annual saving of Dhs12,000.’
The three homes in the study were given an ultra-efficient overhaul, with water-saving devices, thermal roof coatings and eco-friendly LED bulbs throughout, but even if we can’t afford to kit out our houses with the latest eco-tech, Tamara says that we can still make a huge difference, just by changing our behaviour.
Check out some of the changes every household in the UAE can make…
Adjust that A/C!
According to Dewa, if every customer turned up the temperature by just two degrees to a comfortable 24C during peak hours, it would save enough energy to supply 11,000 apartments with energy for a whole year! Ceiling fans are a great alternative in cooler months, too. Keep windows closed to stop cool air escaping, and don’t forget to turn it off when you leave the house, either.
Save water if possible – re-use the water for washing your veg for watering house plants, for example. And by fitting water-saving devices to taps and toilets, you can significantly reduce the amount of wastage each time you use them.
Make that switch
Change those old bulbs to the energy saving variety – they last up to 10 times longer and can save a total of Dhs806 each year if you use them throughout your home. And when you leave the room – switch them off!
Don’t waste water
Get out of the habit of leaving the tap running, whether you’re washing dishes, cleaning veg or brushing your teeth. By switching it off you can save litres of water, every time.
Clean that car carefully
Save water by using a bucket to clean your motor, rather than the hose. And do you really need to wash it every day?
Waste not, want not
Be energy savvy – don’t fill up the kettle if you’re only making one cup, and only use the dishwasher when it’s full.
Don’t rely on stand-by
Did you know that devices such as the TV or computers use nearly as much energy on stand-by as when they’re in use? Switch them off at the mains every night, and especially when you go on holiday.
Watch how you wash
Showering uses a third less water than the average bath, saving a potential Dhs570 per year. And don’t leave the water heater on 24/7 – most models only need about 20 minutes to heat enough water for a shower.
Stop the drip
Over time, dripping taps and leaky pipes will waste hundreds of gallons of water that could have been used. Call the plumber and get them fixed as soon as you spot them.
Make summer work for you
We might all moan about the summer heat, but work the warmth to your advantage. Turn off water heaters if your tank is heated by the sun, and dry your clothes outdoors in a matter of minutes.
How does your garden grow?
If you’ve got grass, adjust your sprinklers so they’re only pointing where they need, rather than paths or walls. Water the garden in the early morning or evening to reduce evaporation, and plant indigenous plants which can survive on minimal water.
All about timing
Avoid using high energy-consuming appliances such as washing machines, dryers, irons and dishwashers during peak times (from noon to 5pm during summer).
Make that pledge
Be proactive – families, schools and businesses can log on to the EWS-WWF’s Heroes of the UAE website to make a pledge to reduce your energy and water consumption. ‘We’ve found that when people make a public pledge, they’re much more likely to stick with it,’ says Tamara.
Visit www.heroesoftheuae.ae to find out more.