Think Green

 

 

When Leaves Go Brown, You Can Still Go Green!

As Fall approaches and the weather begins to cool, the following tips can help reduce the chill — and your energy bill.

 

Use the Sun’s Heat

Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to keep the warmth in and the chill out.

 

Reduce Heat Loss from Your Fireplace

Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning (having the damper open is like keeping a window wide open!)

If you do use your fireplace, purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool air from the room into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room

 

Lower Water Heating Costs

Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120 degrees) — you’ll not only save money, you’ll avoid scalding your hands. Note: Water heating accounts for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home.

 

Maintain Your Heating System

Replace your furnace filters one a month or as needed, and find out what maintenance is needed to keep your system operating efficiently.

 

Reducing energy consumption is good for the environment! For more Fall energy saving tips, visit http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips.

Think Green

Go Green in the Garden

Spring has sprung — which means many of us will be embarking on home gardening and landscaping projects.

Sustainable gardening practices — which provide tremendous environmental and economic benefits — have become more important than ever as the state faces its worst drought in decades.


Here are some easy ways to save water, reduce waste and improve soil in your gardens:

1. Mulch.  This is a soil covering used to control weeds or erosion, retain moisture in soil and insulate soil in cold weather. Organic materials commonly used for mulch include wood chips, ground-up landscape trimmings, shredded bark, coarse compost material, straw, and shredded paper. Spreading mulch several inches thick over your outdoor site will keep out weeds. In the summer, mulch is an especially effective way to conserve irrigation water.

2. Composting. This is the controlled decomposition of organic materials such as leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and food scraps — it’s nature’s way of recycling! The best way to compost food waste is to mix it with dry leaves, sticks and twigs, wood chips, sawdust, dried/dead plants, shredded newspaper, or paper from a home shredder, along with yard waste such as grass clippings. It will need to be “turned” about once a week by fluffing the pile with a pitchfork to give it air. In most California climates, the compost is ready in three to six months, when it becomes a dark crumbly material that is uniform in texture. Spread it in the garden, raised beds or under and around plants. The compost can also be used as potting soil.

3. Grasscycle. This is the natural recycling of grass by leaving clippings on the lawn when mowing. Grass clippings decompose quickly, returning valuable nutrients back to the soil. It reduces turf grass fertilizer and water requirements, which minimize chemical runoff entering storm drains and polluting creeks, rivers, and lakes. Similar to mulching, it’s also an effective way of conserving water.

4. Xeriscape.  This means landscaping with slow-growing, drought tolerant plants to conserve water and reduce yard trimmings. Landscapes need to be planned to be compatible with locally available resources, including water, soil types, and sunlight. Xeriscapes generally require less fertilizer and fewer pest control measures than traditional landscapes, and as a result, cost less money.

For more green gardening tips, visit http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/Organics/.