Summertime Conservation Tips

energy-efficiencyIt’s summertime – get outside and play! Take advantage of the extra hours of sunlight, warm summer breezes and just the pure happiness that summer brings. If you live just about anywhere in the three-quarters of the United States that experienced the “Polar Vortex” and the winter from
hell – 2014, you’re happy it’s winter and not going to complain even when it gets to 100 degrees and humidity!

But, with summer comes wastefulness of energy and water. Sometimes we think about just flicking a switch or using extra water to cool ourselves down.

The United States Department of Energy has compiled some energy saving tips for consumers to still enjoy their summer, save money and save energy. Some of these tips include:

  • If  you live in a climate where it cools off in the evening, turn off the air conditioning and open the windows while you are sleeping. In the morning shut the windows and close the blinds to capture the cool air.
  • Install window coverings to prevent heat gain.
  • Set the thermostat as high as comfortably possible — the smaller the difference between the indoor temperature and outdoor temperature, the lower your cooling bill.
  • Use fans and ventilation strategies to cool your home and don’t forget to turn off the fans when you leave the room.
  • Don’t heat your home with appliances and lighting — on hot days cook on the stove or grill outside….or just eat cold foods!
  • Wash only full loads of laundry.
  • Take showers instead of baths.

Not only do we waste energy, we waste water too. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates “Depending upon the region homeowners use 30-60% of their water outdoors. Fifty percent of that is wasted, in part, due to overwatering.”

Sure, we like our lawn and garden to look perfect, but there is a proper way to water our grass, flowers and produce.  One thing we can do is water in the early morning and at dusk — this prevents wasteful evaporation of water in the hot summer sun.

The EPA also suggests:

  • Step on the lawn – if the grass springs back, it doesn’t need water.
  • Leave it long – longer grass promotes a more drought-resistant lawn, reduced evaporation and fewer weeds
  • Take a sprinkler break – grass really isn’t meant to be bright green in the summer.
  • Look for the WaterSense label if you’re shopping for a new timer – this can reduce water usage by 15 percent, saving nearly 8,800 gallons of water per year.

 

These are just a few summertime conservation tips — when it comes to saving water and energy and water it boils down to common sense and your specific needs.

 

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Air Conditioning

lA couple of weeks ago here in the Chicago area we experienced a week’s worth of the typical “dog days of summer” — 90 degree temperatures coupled with about 99% humidity. Sure, we got a break from it for a while, but summer’s not over yet and we could certainly get some more hot temps before Labor Day.

For many air conditioning is a must – especially those with medical conditions or difficulty breathing. But, air conditioning just sucks energy and it can shrink your wallet. So, what are some easy things you can do to keep cool if you do need to stay cool?

  1. Close the shades – keep your shades drawn. Not allowing any sunlight will naturally keep it cooler. Also, look for quality blackout shades, which will considerably cut down the amount of sunlight which seeps into your home.
  2. Don’t use the oven – if you can get away with using a toaster oven or the microwave and cook simpler meals for a while do so. Or, better yet, just prepare salads and fresh fruits and vegetables, not using any kitchen appliances at all.
  3. Consider your landscaping – plant some shade trees close to the house
  4. Purchase ceiling fans, or even a large floor fan may just do the trick
  5. Focus on cooling yourself off rather than cooling the house down – take a cool shower or go for a swim, have a tall glass of a cool lemonade, water or iced tea – all will help you cool down

 

What We Can Do In The Summer to Be Green

Now that it’s summertime, or at least close to summertime (and hopefully feeling like summer soon — by me it feels more like March), there are many things we can do every day to be green.

  1. Pedal Power! If you need to run some errands within a reasonable amount of distance why not get your workout in and your errands completed at the same time and walk or ride your bike to the store or wherever you need to go?
  2. This ties into #1 — when you run your errands use your own bags — don’t use those plastic bags! Even though you can recycle them, it takes energy to recycle those plastic bags.
  3. Another way to be good to the Earth during these warm months is to open the windows — cut down on your air conditioning usage to reduce your carbon footprint.
  4. Eat local. I don’t know about you, but I live where there are four seasons so I love it when the summer farmer’s markets come to town. Support your local farmers and buy locally grown food, which not only reduces your carbon footprint, these foods are usually not treated with any pesticides.
  5. Cheap entertainment — many communities offer free activities, such as concerts during the summer. So, get out and enjoy some free music and entertainment, talk to your neighbors and turn those lights out and get out!
  6. We need to free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil, so look into an electric or push lawn mower.
  7. Compost
  8. Don’t water your lawn — I know we all want our lawns to look perfect and green, but what a waste of water and energy! Let Mother Nature do the watering for you.
  9. Don’t use any chemicals on your lawn — so what if you have weeds on your front lawn? Think of the chemical runoff and pollution — also many animals eat grass, so you may be harming an animal feeding on your grass.
  10. Spread the word — continue to spread the word about being green.