Tuesday, September 18, 2012

10 Eco-Friendly Tips for Autumn

With the first day of autumn (September 22nd) approaching quickly, it's time to think about some eco-friendly tasks that are good to do during the fall:

1. Buy in-season local autumn vegetables and fruit in bulk now; and can or freeze them for winter.

There is still such a wide variety of vegetables and fruit that is available at the farmers markets as well as at local farms. If possible, buy the vegetables and fruit that you will need during the winter and spring now, and can or freeze it to enjoy at a later date.

Canned Peaches Pears and Applesauce
Canned applesauce, peaches, and pears.
(Taken on October 1, 2010.)

This is especially important to do this year since the drought will invariably affect the price of produce in the coming months. Even though more money needs to be spent now, less money will be spent in the long-run when the price of commonly-purchased items increases substantially.

2. Buy low on the food chain. 

Rather than purchasing final products that simply need to be heated (e.g., frozen green bean casserole, can of creamed corn), purchase the fresh ingredients instead.

Olivia Holding Basil
Olivia with produce from the garden one evening.
(Taken on October 7, 2010.)

There's a lot of energy needed for companies to transform fresh beans into a processed, convenience dish ready for re-heating at home. Although home cooking can be time consuming, it doesn't have to be that way. Preparing carrot slices in a steamer; making dinner in a crock pot; or making bread in a bread-maker all are ways to have home-cooked items, but without a lot of work.

3. Check the air pressure in your tires. 

Cooler temperatures lower tire pressure which, in turn, lowers fuel efficiency. If you don't know how to check your tires to make sure they are properly inflated, a full-service gas station or dealership with a service station can assist you.

Tractor Tire
Tractor tire.
(Taken on May 3, 2008.)

4. Rake leaves rather than blowing them.

I've always raked or mowed leaves instead of using an electric or gas-powered leaf blower. Not only is it good exercise, but raking prevents pollution. A single gas-powered leaf blower can emit as much pollution in a year as 80 cars...not to mention the gasoline they use to clean one's yard.

Olivia Raking Leaves
Olivia raking the leaves in the backyard.
(Taken on October 14, 2007.)

From an allergy and asthma point of view, raking is much better. Leaf blowers stir up allergens, mold, and dust particles that otherwise have been tamped down with decomposition and rain.

5. Vacuum the refrigerator coils to keep the compressor running efficiently.

Honestly, this is something I have never done until this year. Although the refrigerator is only a couple of years old, technically I should have vacuumed the coils five times already.

By not vacuuming the coils, the refrigerator has had to work harder to keep up because of dirt and dust that has built up on the coils. The decreased efficiency means higher utility bills and more wear on the refrigerator.

Project Simplify - Refrigerator and Freezer After
The inside of the refrigerator.
Empty spaces allow the cool air to circulate.
(Taken on April 8, 2011.)

So, this month I cleaned the refrigerator coils, and hopefully that will increase the life of the appliance as well as save money on electric bills in the long run.

6. Check windows for proper caulking.

As long as I've admitted to not vacuuming the refrigerator coils, why not just admit that I have never checked the house to see if it is properly caulked? Here again, this is such a simple task, and one that there isn't a reason not to do.

I looked at a book about basic home repairs and learned about caulking, and went around the exterior of the home and did that today. It took less than an hour. Yet, I was able to seal quite a few holes. This winter, less warm air will escape from the home, hopefully saving some money as well as propane in the process.

Afternoon project: learning how to wield a caulk gun (with help from YouTube).
Caulking a window.

7. Reverse the direction on ceiling fans.

I've read that this should be done twice a year - once in the spring and again in the fall. During the fall, the fan should run in clockwise direction.

To see if the fan is running in the correct direction during the fall, simply stand under it and if you feel a breeze, reverse the direction so that air is being drawn upwards. This pushes the air up towards the ceiling where it can drift down the walls and gently re-circulate the warm air without creating a cooling effect that is welcome during the summer.

8. Clean the chimney.

Once a year, it is good to have the chimney checked and cleaned. I missed having it cleaned last fall (my dad was having major health issues with late-stage Alzheimer's Disease at that point, and my focus was on helping him through that final journey). This year, before the first fire in the wood stove, it will be cleaned. I made an appointment to have the chimney sweep come out in a couple of weeks.

Lucy Relaxing by the Fire
Lucy relaxing by the fire.
(Taken on January 18, 2009.)

9. Skip the deadheading.

Leaving flower seed heads alone provides a winter food source for the birds as well as an interesting view when the garden is snow-covered. By leaving plants alone during the autumn, an extra layer of insulation can protect the roots from frigid winter weather.

Weeds Covered with Frost and Snow
Weeds and grasses during the winter.
(Taken on December 24, 2008.)

10. Get ready for holiday guests by cleaning inside the dishwasher.

With the holidays, often there are more opportunities to host a gathering and use the dishwasher. To prepare for increased use of the dishwasher, remove the racks and use paper towels to wipe out the bottom of the unit to remove any accumulated food.

Place two cups of vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher and turn it on a short or low cycle. Midway through the wash cycle, stop the dishwasher for a few minutes to allow the vinegar to sit in the bottom. Restart the machine and let it run the rest of the cycle.

After the cycle is finished, wipe down the inside and return the racks that you have cleaned while waiting for the dishwasher cycle to finish.

This post is part of Blog Ease Autumn Blogathon challenge hosted by Blog Ease Facebook Group, BellaDazzle, All 'Bout Cute Designs, Giveaway Overload, Shoes Fashion Fitness, Survival Guide by The Working Mom and Roasted Beanz.


Kelley Johnsen said...

Wow great tips! I am going to have to remember some of these!

Sarah said...

These are some great and unique tips. I never knew about changing the direction of fans, and we use fans for air circulation year-round. How do I change the direction?

JR911 said...

Great suggestions.....I so totally love #1. julieann r

Margaux at YoungNesters said...

These are all great suggestions but when I read the last one I was thrilled! I had been looking for a way to green clean the dishwasher hehe thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips! I was looking for a way to clean my dishwasher :) I'll have to put the fridge on hubby's "honey do" list!

Beth :: Our Front Porch View said...

Everytime I see someone using a leaf blower I want to tell them, "You are missing out on the best part of fall!"

I refuse to use them. Raking is GREAT exercise and easier to build piles for jumping in
I mean.. for the kids to jump in :)

God bless!

Our Front Porch View: The Story of a Young Family's Pursuit to Fulfill a Simpler Life

Just Add Cloth said...

Great tips! Some of these we already do, but I will admit I never clean the coils on our fridge. I doubt our landlord does either!

SkYLan said...

Nice- there were a few ideas here I hadn't thought of! Thanks!

crunchyfarmbaby said...

Great tips for getting ready for winter! Thanks for sharing!