Think Green

Summer temperatures bring more recreational opportunities –– but also the potential for higher energy bills. Here are some tips for keeping your “cool” without breaking the bank.

 

Use Your Windows

If you live in a climate where it cools off at night, skip the A/C and open your windows while sleeping. When you wake in the morning, shut the windows and blinds to capture the cool air.

 

Operate Your Thermostat Efficiently

· Keep your house warmer than normal when you're away, and lower the thermostat setting to 78°F (26°C) only when you're at home and need cooling. A programmable thermostat can make it even easy to set back your temperature.

· Avoid setting your thermostat to a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and unnecessary expense.

 

Fan and Ventilation Strategies

· If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting by about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.

· Turn off ceiling fans when you leave the room. Remember that fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect.

· When you shower or take a bath, use the bathroom fan to remove the heat and humidity from your home. Your laundry room might also benefit from spot ventilation. Make sure bathroom and kitchen fans are vented to the outside (not just to the attic).

 

Keep Your Cooling System Running Efficiently

· Schedule regular maintenance for your cooling equipment.

· Learn about operating and maintaining your air conditioner, evaporative cooler, or heat pump.

· Avoid placing lamps or TV sets near your room air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.

· On hot days, avoid using the oven — cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside.

 

Visit energy.gov for more 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/.