Are there gadgets I can buy which can help me measure consumption and reduce use? What are some good habits I can get my family into starting to help reduce our costs?
There are some gadgets, but they are pretty pricey. One is here: energymonitor.com and the other here: theenergydetective.com/index.html
The second one is pretty cool because it can connect to your computer wirelessly and create a database of your usage that you can access, view trends, etc.
But they are still pretty expensive and it may be a better idea to just watch your consumption by hand, ie turn off lights when you leave rooms, turn off the TV and computers, don't leave the fridge door open and get everything you need from the fridge at once.
As for water, there are gadgets that help there too, and arent very pricey. I got a low flow showerhead with additional features that help reserve water and heating costs. I reviewed the device here: http://www.pffirewall.com/moneysaving/roadrunner-evolve-eco-wallet-smart-shower/
Yes, there are gadgets. Black & Decker has an excellent product - it's a Power Monitor device. It is an easy to use device that allows you to wireless monitor your whole house energy usage.
To reduce your residental water usage, you can – in rough order of cheap to more expensive – perform any or all of the following upgrades:
Fix that leaking toilet! Usually a new flapper is all that's required.
Install low-flow aerators for your kitchen and bathroom faucets. Chances are whatever came with your house can be improved upon.
Install low-flow shower heads if you don't have them already. Some newer homes already have these installed, but check if you can do better.
Install a rain barrel in your yard to collect rain water; use it instead of the hose to water outside plants.
Install new low-flow toilets that use less water per flush. Again, some newer homes already have these installed, but check if you can do better. Even if your home already has a low-flush toilet, some better models have two flush modes – half and full – which can save you even more water.
Here are a couple of good articles on the subject of residential water usage reduction:
- National Resources Canada's Better Water Use Means Bigger Savings.
- Lowe's Reducing Your Water Consumption.
Finally, upgraded water gadgets are great, but don't forget you can adjust consumption behaviour too.
P3 International makes some electrical monitors that are fairly inexpensive. I purchased the Kill A Watt EZ. It can point you to some of the items that you leave on that are using electricity. I also used it to determine how much things like my extra freezer are costing me per year.