As the leaves change color and the year begins to wrap up, many people take the time to prepare their homes and gardens to withstand the harsh winter months. However, autumn maintenance is also a great opportunity to make your home a little greener for the winter. Consider implementing the following eco-friendly tips into your fall chores to reduce your carbon footprint, save energy, and even cut down on your utility bill.
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1. Start a Compost Pile
Fallen leaves are plentiful this time of year, which means there’s no better time to start a compost pile than in the fall! In fact, you can secure most if not all of the materials you’ll need for free in your own yard, neighborhood, and/or local park. In addition to leaves, you may want to gather lawn clippings and leftover vegetables from your autumn lawn and garden cleanup to include in your compost pile. Fall decorations that would otherwise end up in the trashcan when the season comes to a close, such as straw bales, pumpkins, and corn stalks, will also make great additions to your pile.
To successfully compost fall waste, first chop up the leaves, grass clippings, and other leftovers using a mulcher or shears. This will make it much easier for the materials to break down and speed up the decomposition and composting process. Moisten the pile slightly, and then just let it be. Turn the pile once every month or so to keep things moving.
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2. Do an Outside House Check
It’s a good idea to check the outside of your house for any areas that might need attention, particularly windows and doors, in the fall before it gets too chilly. That way you won’t have to worry about repairing leaks or cracks in the middle of winter, and you’ll ensure that cold air stays out of your home and hot air stays in, which prevents you from turning up your thermostat and saves energy.
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3. Use Human-Powered Tools
Fall chores tend to bring out several machines, such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and rototillers. While these tools may save a bit of time, they also release hazardous emissions and use up a significant amount of energy. In fact, garden equipment engines account for 5 percent of the nation’s air pollution, with gasoline powered lawn mowers topping the list. Make the environmentally friendly choice (and get a nice workout in!) by taking care of your autumn yard work with human-powered tools, such as push mowers and rakes, instead.
4. Inspect Your Heating System
Because your heating system will likely be used for the duration of the cold winter season, take advantage of these autumn months to ensure your heater is ready to go. If you haven’t already had a professional come out to inspect your heater at some point during the year, consider hiring one to ensure that the system is performing optimally or diagnose and fix any potential problems. Additionally, take the time to replace the filter in your furnace and clean your ducts to improve your heating system’s efficiency and save energy.
5. Clean with Eco-Friendly Products
Before the winter cold confines you inside, where the air can be up to five times more polluted than outside air, clean your house from top to bottom using non-toxic, eco-friendly products. There are several safe cleaners that you can purchase or make at home; for example, a mix of baking soda and warm water can be used as an all-purpose cleaner. Further, you can help keep air pollutants in your house to a minimum by cleaning with natural products all winter long.