With longer days and warmer weather, summer is the perfect chance to make some eco-friendly changes. Not only will you reduce your carbon footprint, you'll save money and enjoy the beautiful outdoors too.
Here are eight great tips:
1. Garden strategically. Plant deciduous trees and shrubs against the south and west sides of your home. In summer, the leafy foliage shades against solar heat, while in winter, bare branches let warm sunlight stream into your home. As shade trees grow, so do your energy savings. According to the US Department of Energy, three big shade trees will chop as much as $250 off your annual energy bill.
2. Trade the old for the new. If you have an ancient in-window air conditioning unit, upgrade to a new (or even just newer) model. According to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, the efficiency of in-window room air conditioners improved 47% between the 1970s and the 1990s. So whether you upgrade to a brand-new, Energy-Star rated unit, or even a not-so-new Craigslist find, you’ll still improve the efficiency of your hand-me-down unit by half.
3. Mow it old school. Why use a gas- or electricity-sucking power mower when you could push a quiet, zero-energy-using reel mower? Today’s models don’t even need blade-sharpening. Source: Style At Home
4. Ditch your gym membership and opt for outdoor workouts. They’re free and require less energy than running on a treadmill or taking a hot yoga class. Hiking, biking, going for walks, climbing trees—all good stuff. Nix the gym membership, unplug and get some fresh air and Vitamin D. It will probably lift your spirits along with your derriere.
5. Swap driving for walking/biking/taking public transportation. Wondering which buses run from your house to the office? Curious if there’s a bike path to take, instead? Click here for Google Maps. Select your means of transportation and go! Source: Princeton Scoop
6. Beat the heat with a programmable thermostat. Staying cool is expensive and causes additional pollution through increased demand on the coal fired power plants spread across the country. You can help reduce your electric bill by using a programmable thermostat and when done properly it can save you up to $180 per year. If you are in a northern climate, ceiling fans can be a savior. Electric ceiling fans are about 90 percent more energy efficient than central air conditioning.
7. Reduce picnic trash by using old style picnic baskets with reusable cups, tableware, cloth napkins and plates are great when it comes to going green. Keeping all of those plastics plates and paper napkins out of the trash helps the pocket book and the planet. Don’t forget to use those reusable water bottles instead of the toxic plastic bottled water as well, it will keep you healthy and save you some money. Source: iSustainableEarth
And finally, a great tip for all of us who rush around the rest of year getting stuff done:
8. Take some do-nothing time. Sit outside at dusk and watch the fireflies–they hold a special magic for people of all ages. We are so adept at DOING: summer encourages us to simply BE. Source: Care2
This blog post originally appeared on the Botanical PaperWorks Blog under 8 Tips for Living Green This Summer. Check out more great articles on Living Green and Gardening. And you'll love this DIY article on how to make Up-Cycled Rustic Garden Markers out of pop cans.