Use native landscaping
Plant a tree
Trees shade your home in the summer and provide a windbreak in the winter, reducing energy costs. They also remove pollutants from the air. To help you choose a tree, see The Heartland Tree Alliance’s website.
Mow in the evening
Lawn mowers are major pollutant producers and mowing in the heat of the day just adds more. The ozone-forming fumes released by a gas lawnmower will dissipate overnight. Late morning is the worst time to mow on a hot, sunny day because it releases fumes when they are most likely to be transformed into ozone.
Be kind to your gadgets — turn them off
Items that do not run constantly usually last longer. Contrary to popular belief, this is also true of most computers. Items left running unnecessarily not only waste energy, they generate excess heat.
Use your computer’s sleep mode
Using the sleep mode when you plan to be away for a short time and want to keep your machine running saves energy. Don’t mistake your computer’s screensaver for sleep mode — a screensaver keeps the computer at full power.
Choose a Star
EnergyStar appliances are more environmentally friendly because they use less energy and options are available for many product categories. Visit www.EnergyStar.gov for more information.
Beware of power vampires!
Many appliances use electricity even when they’re turned off. Anything with a remote control, external power supply (that cube-shaped thing on the electric plug), or a clock display is consuming energy. This can account for 10 percent of your home’s power consumption. Unplug these items or turn them off with a power strip.
Consider upgrading to a higher-efficiency furnace
A more efficient furnace will pay for itself over time. Exchanging your older, low-efficiency furnace for a medium-efficiency furnace can save you about $25 per every $100 in annual fuel costs — upgrading to a high-efficiency furnace will save you even more.
Use a programmable thermostat
Lowering the temperature when you’re away from home can save about 15 percent on your heating bill. Program the thermostat to raise the temperature to a comfortable level before you return.
Check your ducts
Ensure that your registers are not blocked by furniture. Also check ductwork to ensure it is properly sealed and insulated.
Reduce or reuse
It takes energy to make, transport and dispose of the products we use. Buying products with minimal packaging and reusing products whenever possible lets you reduce the number of trips garbage trucks must make to the landfill. Because some waste is disposed of by burning, by creating less trash, you will also reduce incineration emissions.
Recycle what’s left!
At work, at home or at special events, recycling reuses valuable materials and saves energy by rescuing them from landfills. It takes less energy and creates less pollution to recycle many products than it does to make new ones from raw materials. By recycling and buying recycled items, you reduce the need to manufacture and ship new products.
Equipment and Maintenance
Use 4-cycle, electrical equipment or manual tools
Much of your gardening and lawn care can be easily accomplished with manual or electrical equipment. When power equipment is needed, selecting 4-cycle engines will improve your emissions.
Maintain your equipment
Sharpen your tools’ blades regularly to maintain efficiency. Keeping your equipment well-maintained will reduce emissions and avoid costly breakdowns.
Don’t paint in the heat of the day
Avoid using oil-based paints, solvents and varnishes. Don’t use them at all on Ozone Alert Days.
Properly dispose of household hazardous waste
We all have hazardous waste in our households in the form of cleaning, home-repair, and lawn and garden products. These materials can release fumes which cause indoor and outdoor air pollution. By disposing of them properly at household hazardous waste collection sites or at collection events, you can keep them from entering the waste stream. To find out more about proper household hazardous waste disposal, visit www.RecycleSpot.org.