Eco-friendly tips for beating the summer heat

For Weekly SurgeJuly 3, 2012 

Summer is in full swing and what are you doing? Maybe you have plans for the beach, the water parks and the backyard cook-outs. Maybe you are planning some staycations, just to stay local and enjoy your hometown and its varous attractions. With all these plans, there are still a few things you can do to save money and save the earth a little. Summer is a time to slow down and green up.

How are you going to be green during this season?

Here are some tips:

•  Adjust the AC – While the ice cold air conditioning inside your home is so refreshing against the heat and humidity of the summer, try something different and save on your monthly electric bill. When you turn up your thermostat just a few degrees, you could save some money. Running the AC on very cold air burns more energy and burns more in your wallet. An electric fan uses 90 percent less energy than centralized AC.

•  Green Your Grill – Propane burns much cleaner than wood or charcoal briquettes. But let’s face it; charcoal helps with the flavor, so try something like lump charcoal brands made from hardwood or harvested from sustainably forests. Lump charcoal burns hotter and longer than regular. Briquettes are like the fast food of charcoal. Another tip is to use a chimney starter instead of lighter fluid. Then keep your grill clean and chemical-free using natural cleaning products such as Orange Plus or SoyClean grill cleaner. Also, by grilling more for your meals is more energy efficient and saves on eating out.

•  Browse Farmers Markets – Plan your week’s meals by stopping at the local farmers market for your fresh, local fruits and vegetables. Create new summer dishes using local foods and support the livelihood of farmers. But here’s a possible money-saving tip, go to the farmers market towards the end of the day and try to make a deal with a farmer. I’m sure most of those farmers don’t want to haul all their produce back home. Visit www.WaccamawMarkets.org for details about the dates, times and locations of the farmers markets in our area.

•  Green Plate Special – Reduce your waste for cookouts. Opt for real glasses and dishes and cloth napkins instead of Styrofoam cups and plates and paper towels, especially if you have a small gathering. It does avoid the extra cost in purchasing disposable cups, plates, etc. If that’s too much washing, at least go for the recycled paper alternative. Some even go so far as to try backyard composting.

•  Avoid Chemicals – Fight insects without poison or chemicals. Try using natural products with a garlic barrier or lemon eucalyptus or citronella to fend off mosquitoes. Planting rosemary or marigolds near doors and in patio areas is a natural way to deter mosquitoes and other nagging bugs. Also mosquitoes are attracted to darker colors and warmer bodies, so wear light colors and loose fits.

•  Tame Wild Water – The summer heat can certainly tempt you to use more water than necessary, so be sure to watch your usage. Some areas even have water restrictions during the summer months. Take a few moments to install a low-flow showerhead in your bathroom. Another tip about watering your plants - only water plants in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the stress of summer heat. Drought-tolerant plants, such as Rosemary and the Butterfly Bush, are also great additions to your landscaping.

•  Spare the Dryer - Try drying your laundry outside in the summer sun. You could get a retractable clothesline or a drying rack. You could even freak out your neighbors and hang your clothes on the lawn furniture or the bushes. I found a retractable clothesline at Lowe’s for less than $15 and at least I will save some energy this summer not running the dryer. If you don’t want crunchy jeans or towels, finish them off in the dryer while they are still a little damp.

Jennifer Sellers is the sustainability coordinator at Coastal Carolina University and offers her eco-views at her blog, mygreenglasses.com. Contact her at jen@mygreenglasses.com.

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