How To Have A Sustainable Fall
Autumn, my favorite season! The air is crisp with the scent of fallen leaves, the trees bursting with color. Picking apples, attending the fall festivals, the aroma of fresh-baked pumpkin bread! While I look forward to the fall activities, especially decorating my front porch, I also have to get down to business and prepare my home and yard for the long winter months. Below are 10 simple ways to make your autumn sustainable with tips on decorating and home maintenance.
Use Nature To Decorate
When it comes to fall décor, opt for the real thing rather than the cheap imported plastic decorations. Use nature, go into your backyard and gather pinecones, leaves, flowers and anything else you can get creative with, or go on a hike for inspiration. Use items from around the house, watering cans, metal buckets, planters, even wooden boxes. Visit your local pumpkin patch and use real pumpkins, sunflowers, corn, corn stalks, straw and hay bales to create unique displays in and outside of your home. A quick search on Pinterest will give you lots of ideas. One of my favorites is the Prudent Penny Pincher.
Visit Your Local Farmers Market
Purchasing locally grown produce not only enables the local economy but also reduces the environmental impact associated with costly food transportation. And who doesn’t like fresh locally grown produce?
Test Your Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Check the batteries every 6 months. A good rule of thumb is to check them when daylight savings time begins and ends.
Set Your Thermostat
Set your thermostat at 68°F. According to Energy.gov, this is the ideal temperature while at home during your waking hours but recommends lowering the thermostat a few degrees while asleep and 7-10 degrees while away from home. Doing so can save as much as 10% energy costs per year.
Investing in a Smart Thermostat is a worthy option. With this app-enabled smart home device, you can adjust your thermostat remotely through your smartphone, computer or other Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as Siri or Alexa.
Check Your Water Heater
Set your water heater to 120° degrees. Most water heaters are set to 140° degrees however, your dishwasher and washing machine are just as effective at 120° degrees. For every 10 degrees you lower the temperature you can save 3% to 6% on your energy bill. Not to mention, lowing the temperature can prolong the life of your water heater.
Speaking of energy efficiency, when was the last time you had your furnace inspected? This should be done yearly to make sure it is running at optimal levels. Be sure to check the filter and replace it if necessary.
This is also a good time to make sure that all the vents are opened properly and not blocked by furniture or other items. If the only place the couch fits is over a vent, get a vent extender from your local big box store. Also, use vent deflectors to prevent the heat from going behind the curtains and heating the window rather than the room. These are very inexpensive and will have a huge impact on the temperature of the room. I have found that Amazon has the best prices on extenders and deflectors.
Compost Your Leaves
When your leaves are dumped into a landfill the decomposition process creates greenhouse gases such as methane. As garbage is continuously piled on top, there is a lack of oxygen. This lack of oxygen results in the development of greenhouse gases.
A better option would be to compost your leaves. Your garden will thank you for it as the compost will greatly enhance the quality of the soil! Dry leaves are considered “brown” meaning that they provide a source of carbon while green leaves, fresh grass trimmings and kitchen scraps are “green” because they provide nitrogen. The ratio is twice the volume of browns to greens. Note, the following leaves should not be used for composting: beech, oak, holly, sweet chestnut, black walnut and eucalyptus.
Clean Your Gutters
When the gutters are full of leaves and other debris, they backup and overflow. When this happens, the water can get under the shingles and run down your home which in time will deteriorate the roof and the exterior of your home. It can also affect the foundation if the water is not directed away from the home.
Clean Your Chimney
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have it inspected and cleaned. There are over 25,000 chimney fires a year resulting in 125 million dollars in property damage.
Sprinklers and Lawn
Blow out those sprinklers and fertilize the lawn with a quality winter fertilizer suitable for your area. Also, give your trees a quick inspection. Fall is not an optimal time to trim trees but if there are broken branches, cut them off. If the tree doesn’t look healthy it might be time to call in the professionals. Dying trees are not always obvious, (think cottonwoods) but better to know now before the first heavy snow or strong winds that topple it over onto your home or your neighbor’s home or property.
With proper preventative home maintenance, you will save money and spend your time doing the things you love rather than waiting around for the repair person! Now that you and your home and property are prepared for winter, let the holiday madness begin!