Fall season is in full swing, and love it or hate it, there are a number of things which can be done to make sure you navigate the season while keeping your energy bills low and getting ready for winter in an eco-friendly and sustainable way!
Take advantage of the sun!
Yes temperatures are probably getting cooler, but you can still take advantage of bright sunny days by leaving your curtains open during the day to let those rays warm up your home and give your thermostat a bit of a break.
When the sun goes down though, make sure you leave the cold outside by closing the curtains back up again. Consider switching to blackout curtains which reduce the flow of energy through your windows, and check that your frames and fixtures aren’t leaking heat so that you can get them fixed, or have time to come up with creative window or door stoppers before the real cold sets in.
Check your furnace and your vents and lower your water heater.
Just like fall is the perfect time to check if your windows and doors are winter ready, it’s also the perfect time for a general check up on other things.
Make sure your furnace is clean and that it has recently been inspected to be certain that it’s running at optimal levels and won’t give you any problems in the upcoming months. Ensure that all the vents are open and exposed and that all the rooms are getting the same amount of heat.
Last but not least, lower your water heater to 120 degrees. Most water heaters are set to 140 degrees, but did you know that for every 10 degrees you lower your water heater you can save 6% on your energy bill? You will never take a 140 degree shower anyways, and appliances such as washing machines and dish waters are just as effective at a lower temperature, so go on and save yourself some money, and extend your water heaters life, by lowering it a bit.
Of course you do not have to spend the next few months in a cold and unwelcoming home walking around in coat and gloves, but it also doesn’t make sense to heat up a home to the point in which you’re walking around in summer clothes during the coldest months of the year. Covering up in warm layers is a more efficient way to adjust your own comfort without touching the thermostat and seeing energy bills rise too much. Indulge in quality, sustainable fashion that will get your through fall and winter of this year and of the years to come! (see also How to buy (and maintain) quality clothing and The environmental price of fashion for more)
As well as covering up in appropriate clothes, rotate your bedding by switching to thicker sheets and blanket and make sure you even have one out on the couch or on your favorite chair when you decide to kick back with a book or a good show.
This tip is great for every season (find out more about the carbon footprint of food and the advantage of eating locally sourced food here), but during fall the harvest is that much richer that eating seasonally is even easier! From pumpkins, to squashes, to onions, to parsnips, to mushrooms, to leeks, to kale, to potatoes, to figs, plums and apples! There’s an amazing variety of produce to choose from so make sure you visit your local farmer’s market and take full advantage of everything!
As far as cooking those delicious ingredients how about switching your oven for your slow cooker? Fall comfort foods such as soups, casseroles, roasts and stews will be just as delicious cooked slower. Yes it will take up to 4/6 hours more, but in that time you will still use less energy then you would have using an oven.
Compost your leaves
If you haven’t already started composting, autumn is the right time to get things started as all those fallen leaves make for a perfect starter pile and fabulous soil! If you’ve never thought of composting, or think you do not have the space to compost read the benefits of composting (even if you don't have a garden)
Help out birds
The next months will be challenging for many bird species and food scarcity is often a major challenge both for feathered friends that are staying put, and for those who are just passing by and migrating elsewhere. Avoid pruning your fruiting, flower and seed-bearing plants until next spring in order to leave birds with some food source. Also if you have birdhouses, bird feeders or bird baths, make sure you clean them out properly to help prevent the spread of diseases.
Start getting ready for spring!
A lot of spring gardens are made in the fall! What this means is that apart from bulbs such as iris, tulips, daffodils and bluebells, depending on where you live, certain vegetables also need planting before winter sets in.
If you are considering growing your very own food next year, this is the perfect time to do your research and start planning a brand new vegetable garden or to prep your existing one.
Fall is a season of change, where we get ready for winter while still being filled with summer energy. It’s a perfect time for enjoying the outdoors and activities that have to do with the harvest (apple picking for example) and the change in colors and scenery. Enjoy it while keeping the plant in close to heart!
If you’re running late on Halloween preparations, find out how to be festive while staying environmentally-conscious here.