Happy Mabon! While it may not feel like it to those of us in South Florida, today is the Autumnal Equinox – the first day of fall. Media sources are full of energy-saving tips for those in the north to “winterize” their homes; but what about the Sunshine State? Are there any seasonal “green” recommendations for us? YES! Here are my top five favorites:
1. Change your light bulbs. The difference may not be as noticeable to us so close to the Tropic of Cancer, but our days are getting shorter too, and we will be using our lights more through the winter. Lighting accounts for approximately one-fourth of our home energy costs. More interestingly for a state that battles the heat 9 months of the year, incandescent light bulbs give off 90% of their energy as heat, not light. If you have not done it already, replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Each CFL bulb can reduce energy use by up to two-thirds, last many times longer that incandescent, and can save you up to $50 over the life of the bulb.
2. Start a compost pile. Even in South Florida, deciduous trees lose their leaves, so why not turn this “lawn waste” into nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer for your winter vegetable garden? Reduce waste, great for your garden and saves you money.
3. Check the air pressure in your tires. Cooler temperatures lower tire pressure and that, in turn, lowers fuel efficiency. So check your tires and make sure that they are properly inflated.
4. Conserve water. South Florida autumns also mark the start of our dry season (mid-October through mid-June). While it is important to conserve water all year long, autumn is when we need to reduce your lawn-watering schedule to no more than once per week. The most popular grasses used in South Florida are both heat and drought resistant. Over-watering is actually bad for them.
5. Adjust the thermostat. The recommended air conditioning setting is 78 degrees while the heater should be set at no warmer than 68 degrees. By installing a programmable thermostat, you can save additional energy and money by automatically adjusting the temperatures while you are away or sleeping. According to the EPA the typical homeowner can save around $180 annually, or more than twice the average cost of the new thermostat.