Although home-related green practices shouldn’t be season-conditioned, we can’t ignore the opportunity to stay green when fighting the fiery sun’s eye at the peak of the summer. Let’s see how to take all the advantage of the sunshine while staying comfortable and, most importantly, eco-friendly.
Apart from summer holidays and low-emission road trips, the simplest activities are often the most fun ones, such as walking to your local state park or nature reserve, enjoying the sights and taking an occasional dip in a lake. Focus on litter-free picnic activates and spend a day in the shade of a century-old tree. If you’re blessed with a local beach, walk or bike there and let the kids play in the sand and build their sandcastles. However, make sure they are staying in the shade around lunchtime and packing tons of sunblock – there are eco-safe options that don’t pose a threat to water ecosystems.
As you spend most days outdoors, make sure to unplug all the appliances in your home that are not in use. Doing so eliminates the “vampiric” energy consumption by electronic that is idle or in standby mode. Keep in mind that every appliance uses energy just by being plugged in – even fridges and ranges now come with smart circuits like internal clocks and sensors that are automatically powered even if the appliance isn’t in use. The same accounts for computers, DVD players, and TVs – they all contribute to this phantom energy which is about 5% of an average home’s total consumption.
Turn up the AC
Surely, when you come inside from a scorching commute from work, it’s only too easy to crank down the thermostat. However, such an abrupt change of temperature isn’t only unhealthy, but also costs you additional kilowatts. A stable home temperature of 25 °C is more than enough for a comfortable afternoon at home. You can even go a step further and invest in an EnergyStar fan, which apart from using about 90% less energy than an AC unit, is about 50% more efficient than a non-certified product. When at home, wear loose and thin clothing, and consider relocating your home office/study in the basement, where it’s cooler.
Get smart about water
Fun with water is one of the most entertaining activities to do during the summer, but be watchful of how much water you use on a daily basis. Don’t let the kids turn your entire backyard into a bog – instead, fill the kiddie pool and let it get warm naturally in the sun. Since the increased water use during the summer months puts more strain on the plumbing system, make sure there are no leaks, as in the supply as in the drain branch. If you suspect of a blocked or leaking drain, call plumber specialists for pipe relining who use a low-impact trenchless method of repairing pipes from the inside. On top of it, reduce the amount of utility water for gardening by collecting stormwater in a rain barrel. Make sure you water the plants after the sunset and the water won’t evaporate so quickly.
The memories of the summer often boil down to enjoying the weather, good company, and good food. While barbecues are a staple in summer backyard celebrations, there are many other outdoor “appliances” that use zero electricity. Consider a Mexican chimenea which, apart from being made in a sustainable way with renewable resources, can become a very decorative focal point of your patio. A propane grill burns cleaner than the one fired with charcoal or wood briquettes, and if you’re savvy on DIY projects, an outdoor pizza oven will make you the best dad in the neighbourhood.
Wear safe summer clothes
Summer is a season of bright colours and light flowing fabrics, but make sure you stay away from neon purses, wallets, and shoes, as these ultra-vibrant colours may contain lead. Used to brighten up the clothes and accessories colour, leas in a dangerous neurotoxin, especially harmful to children and women of child-bearing years. While these products are targeted primarily towards women, we should all be more careful with what we buy.
No matter what your first step will be, the summer is a great time to start with changes that lead to a more sustainable and eco-friendlier life. With these six tips, every household can make a difference.
About the author:Mike Johnston is an avid freelance writer from Sydney, Australia specialising in property, interior design and green living. He is a regular contributor to Smooth Decorator.