porch with fall decorFall is here! And even though the scenery around us is turning brown, you can still be “green” with eco-friendly practices that are kind to Mother Earth and your wallet. The season change means it is time to make sure you’re ready for the cooler weather. Here are 10 green tips I know you’ll love.

Seal Your Home

Every year around this time, walk around your house to ensure every window is closed and locked. When air seeps into your home through windows and doors, that means money is leaking out via higher monthly energy bills. There are many small precautions you can take to combat this.

According to Consumer Reports, sealing windows and cracks can reduce energy costs by 15 to 30%. If necessary, use caulk to plug holes and put weather stripping around drafty windows and doors. Insulation kits cost around $25 and allow you to put a protective film over your windows.

Clear Your Yard

It’s important to rake and bag the build-up of leaves in your yard before heavy snowfall comes. If you let your leaves get buried, they will begin to decompose and soak up the moisture in your soil. Decomposition can also create an insect problem as well as a weed control problem, which can damage your yard.

Proper yard maintenance through every season is the environmentally responsible thing to do. And preventing pest control problems or lawn care expenses is a wise decision.

Avoid Space Heaters

Did you know that space heaters can be a major energy drainer on your utility bill during the winter months? Small electric heaters can use about 3,000 watts per use, and larger ones may use over 11,000 watts. In comparison, you’d have to run a refrigerator for four hours to equate to one hour of space heater usage.

Electricity is one of the most expensive energies to heat a home, costing about twice as much as natural gas for the same amount of heat. There are many alternatives worth exploring, such as using a fireplace if you have one, investing in radiant heating options, or by installing a ceiling fan heater.

Think of Out of the Box

The holidays are right around the corner, and soon it’ll be time to start shopping for gifts. Consider buying gently used products online with websites such as Craigslist.org and Amazon.com.

Not only is second-hand buying a form of recycling, it’s easier on your budget, too. Websites like FreeSharing.org are a great source for free items from furniture to appliances. Could it get any better than totally free?

Dial Down Your Water Heater

You certainly need hot water when the weather cools down, but many water heaters are installed at a default setting of 140 degrees, which can pose a scalding risk. Setting your water temperature higher also wastes energy by heating water much hotter than necessary.

Try turning your water heater down to 120 degrees to save energy and bring the water down to a safer temperature. You also can save energy by wrapping your water heater in a blanket to keep in warmth.

Improve Fuel Efficiency

According to FuelEconomy.gov, tests show that your gas mileage falls by anywhere from 12 to 22% in the wintertime. When the temp drops outside, your vehicle’s tire pressure is reduced and fuel efficiency goes down with it. Be sure to check your tires more frequently and inflate them to the proper level.

Fall is also a great time to have your tire treads checked – if you need new tires, get them put on now before you find yourself stuck on the side of the road after a heavy snow. Avoid idling your car for long periods of time as another way to be more fuel efficient.

Reverse Ceiling Fans

If you have a ceiling fan in your home, you can reverse the spin direction so that it runs clockwise. Most fan models have a reverse switch on the base. This adjustment should cause the air to be drawn up toward the ceiling instead of downward.

This reverse setting pushes the air up against the ceiling and down the walls, to gently recirculate warm air without creating a cooling wind effect. This method of redistributing air helps to heat a room.

Clean Out Your Gutters

True, cleaning your house’s gutters isn’t the most exciting fall task in the world, but cleaning them helps prevent ice dams from forming when melted snow pools and refreezes. Ridges of ice then prevent melted snow from draining off of your roof.

When water has nowhere to go, the water can leak into your home and damage interior walls, ceilings and insulation. Fall leaves can also clog gutters and cause them to pull away from your house. This can lead to leaks that damage your home and lead to mold growth.

Don’t Toss Old Electronics

If Santa is good to you by bringing new electronics this holiday, remember not to toss your old ones out with the trash. Call your city’s waste removal department for instructions on how to properly dispose of electronics or donate your old computer or cell phone to a local nonprofit organization.

Another option is to recycle them responsibly. Many electronics, like cell phones, contain mercury and other toxins that pose a global environmental threat. You can recycle your cell phones at your nearest Best Buy, Staples or AT&T store.

Improve Your Heat Flow

A common mistake homeowners make is to arrange furniture in a way that obstructs floor and wall vents. If your furniture is obstructive to the heat flow, consider reorganizing the room layout for the season.

Everyone wants to save money and being green at the same time is a win-win. What have you done in your home to be more efficient in colder temps? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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