Living Green-Tips for Conservation at Home and the Office

by WBOM members Pam ProctorColdwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber and Evie Kirkwood, St. Joseph County Parks

April is for Earth Day and Arbor Day, and a great time to think about living a little more lightly on the planet. To save energy and natural resources at your office or at home, check out these ideas!

Skip the drip. Don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth, time your showers and repair leaks.  Fill the dishwasher and the washing machine, rather than running partial loads. If you have an irrigation system, override the automatic timer to cancel a watering if we have had rain in the last few days, or if the forecast calls for rain.

Unplugged. Most of us know to turn the lights off when we leave a room. But did you know that the average home has about 20 appliances that use electricity even when they are off? In your office, things like copiers, printers, paper shredders, and fax machines, all use standby power. You can save some of that “vampire power” if you plug these items into a power strip, and turn off the power strip when you are not using the appliance.  Most battery chargers and phone chargers should be unplugged as well. On the high tech side switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, or even more efficient LEDs. On the low tech side, hang your clothes on the line to dry.

The hot and the cold of it. Now that the heating season is over, make a note to clean or
change your furnace filter. To reduce demand on air conditioning, use draperies and shades, especially on south and west facing windows.  To maximize cooling from your central air, be sure your registers are not blocked by furniture, rugs  or drapes. Lamps, TVs and older computer monitors all give off heat and trigger a false reading for the room temperature if placed too near a thermostat.

Got trees? Trees planted on the south side of your home generate a cooling effect from their shade and evapotranspiration (releasing water from their leaves). An ample layer of compost or mulch around plants conserves soil moisture, so you don’t need to water as frequently. However, avoid cedar or cypress mulch because often these products are harvested unsustainably. Better choices include lawn clippings, shredded leaves, or cocoa bean hulls, or free or low cost mulch from your community recycling center.  And, if you really care, let your lawn go dormant in summer. Unless your house is on the market and you need that curb appeal, you can reduce watering, mowing, fuel consumption and emissions by just letting the lawn turn tan in summer, which is what grass does in its natural state.

Thinking “green” at home and the office not only saves money, but also reduces our environmental impact. It may  make a home more marketable, too!

Pam Proctor is a Broker Associate with Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber providing residential sales and marketing and tips on buying and selling your home. Evie Kirkwood, is Director of St. Joseph County Parks in Indiana, featuring parks and programs for outdoor family fun. 

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