by Sarah Andert
I have lived in 13 different apartments within the past 7.5 years since I moved to New Orleans. I think that is a considerable accomplishment, or a statement on my ability to co-habitate (is that a word?) with others. My career as a shady gypsy began when I moved here to go to college and has since morphed into the average vagabond, noncommittal lifestyle of most twentysomethings these days. During this time, Ive rented from slum landlords with 100s of properties throughout the city, to a sweet middle-aged man with an interest in gardening letting the other side of his vacation-home double. Ive lived in an apartment where mold grew halfway up the walls, to a swank, newly renovated single suite in on-campus housing. Ive lived in Uptown, the LGD, Irish Channel, Central City, Treme, Bywater and the Marigny. Within my demographic, emotional and financial limits, I feel as though Ive done it all. Ive lived with best friends and strangers, one roommate and as many as nine!
Now that Im in the middle of purchasing my very own first home in Holy Cross, Ive begun to implement best practices in homeownership in my current apartment to prepare myself for the coming responsibilities. Ive been taking stock of what Ive learned in the past 13 apartments, and I recently made a new discovery.
I used to think the temperature of hot water in a home was just as arbitrary as the character of the house itself. Certain apartments just had hotter water. Within a few days after moving in, Id continue to burn myself with the hot tap, forgetting this apartment runs hotter or get frustrated if my shower was always too cold. And I never realized I could do something about it until this year.
A few apartments ago, when I came back right after Katrina, our monthly Entergy bills were costing my roommate and I upwards of $300 for only two people!! We soon discovered it was because the people who had installed the wash machine had gotten the hot and cold hoses mixed up, so we were constantly doing loads of wash with hot water rather than cold. We switched the hoses back and our bills dropped.
Somewhere I made the connection between hot water and higher energy costs, but thats where it stopped. Until this year when I started writing more about eco-friendly home improvement measures. I learned that there is a SIMPLE and EFFECTIVE way to reduce your hot water-related energy costs. Turn down the hot-water heater!!
Yes, my friends, the hard-earned truth is that you can control HOW HOT THE WATER GETS.
So I did an experiment. I turned my hot-water heater down about ¼ of the way. All other things being virtually equal (with perhaps one weeks worth less air conditioning use than the prior month) I saw a reduction in my entergy bill this month from an average $120 per month to $58 !! Amazing! You should try it.
After I actually wrestled open the door to the musty crusty room that holds my water heater, I discovered to my delight that my water heater also has a Vacation setting. Cant wait to try that one!!