Tips for living greener this fall
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Fall is all about color: burnt oranges, rich browns and deep crimsons, to name a few. But it's also a great opportunity to bring a little green into your home. Try these tricks for making your house a little more eco-friendly for the season.
- Mulch leaves. Raking and piling is commonplace for many Chicagoland families: "Our yards are big enough to have a ton of leaves, but not big enough to compost them all," says Maria Onesto Moran, president of Green Home Experts in Oak Park. So instead of bagging and tossing your leaves, she suggests using your lawn mower to mulch the leaves to use as a spring fertilizer. Or, if you're not comfortable with that, encourage your kids to use them for crafts and seasonal decorations.
- Use natural décor. Send your kids on a treasure hunt to find things in the backyard that would look great indoors, Moran suggests. Acorns and foliage, for instance, could make a great rustic wreath. Not feeling crafty? Head to your local farmers market to buy little gourds to place around the house.
- Plant a garden. Summer tends to be the planting season, but Moran says autumn is the perfect time for an amazing container garden. Mums are a classic, of course, but try thinking about fall foods to plant, as well. Kale, for instance, is a nutritious garden-to-table choice that packs flavor into fall soups.
- Think efficiently. Don't wait until spring for a home makeover: the government is awarding tax credits for people who buy energy efficient appliance upgrades, but only through the end of this year. Swapping out old heating and cooling equipment can save up to $200 a year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since it's now getting dark earlier, consider setting up a timer for your lights, swapping out energy efficient bulbs if you haven't already and keeping your blinds open during the day. And make weatherizing a family activity this weekend: sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of your heating system by as much as 20 percent. For more information, check out energystar.gov.