Air conditioning vs. fresh air: 10 ways to “keep our cool”.

At the start of every summer, as the temperature rises, my husband and I seem to have the same discussion… when to turn on the air conditioning!

therm-risingThis is never an easy discussion (okay! read: argument!) as this is the man who wears shorts and t-shirts around the house when it is 19 degrees outside in the dead of winter.

I prefer the open windows and doors, and want to breathe the fresh air.  To this my husband responds “Babe, it ceases to be fresh as soon as it’s 86 degrees with 70% humidity!”  Well, it’s still fresh but I guess it does cease to be RE-freshing!

Just like heating your house in the winter and whether you do or don’t choose to crank the AC, there are ways to keep your house cooler, stop some of the cool air loss and use less energy in the process:

  • Close blinds or curtains in various windows throughout the day to prevent the sun shining in.  If it’s coming in, so is the heat.
  • Use ceiling fans. They circulate the cool air and don’t use a lot of energy.
  • Program your thermostat.  No need to keep it blasting in the evening or when you aren’t even home.
  • When it’s cool outside at night, shut off the air, open the windows and take advantage.ceil-fan
  • 74 degrees is all you need.  This is a bearable temperature, and if you can tolerate it higher, do it!  Each degree saves 3-4% on your cooling expenses.
  • Don’t worry about unused rooms.  Close the windows, doors and vents in these rooms, and block the bottom of the door if they aren’t frequently occupied.
  • Run appliances at night.  This includes dryers & dish washers that give off heat. Avoid using your oven… give it a rest and grill instead!  And if you do use the stovetop, be sure to use the exhaust fan to take away the heat.
  • Turn off unneeded lights, TVs, computers, etc. when you aren’t using them.  They all generate heat too.
  • Keep heat generating appliances away from the thermostat (TVs, lamps, etc.).  They’ll make the thermostat think it’s hotter than it really is.
  • Don’t chop down trees that shade your house.  They simply keep a house cooler.  And even plant strategically.  Shaded AC units run more efficiently, but just be sure not to block the airflow.

I do try to take my own advice.  It’s not always easy (living with my husband who compensates by turning up the ceiling fans to “jet speed”) but it’s a compromise we always seem to manage when it all “boils down”!

Eco-toilet paper: Messing with my husband’s throne!

Well, NOW I’ve done it! I made a change that made my husband call a foul!

tp-seventh-genI switched our cushy Cottonelle Ultra toilet paper to an eco-friendly recycled brand and he is not happy.  So much that it prompted him to blog about it and tell the world that he’s putting his foot down for the first time!

I think in the back of my brain I thought I could make the switcheroo and he might not notice, but in reality, I knew this might be his limit.  And alas, it is.

I picked up some Seventh Generation toilet paper, and sure, it’s definitely nowhere near as thick and soft as the popular brands, but hey… I felt like saving some trees! I recently learned that if every US household would replace just one 500-sheet roll of regular TP with one recycled roll, it would save nearly 425,000 trees annually.  Seventh Generation is made from 100% recycled paper (with a minimum of 80% post-consumer) but I guess some would argue that paper “with a previous life” should never go near these “regions”.

If you have a better recommendation, PLEASE, let me know.  I can feel like I am staying true to my green mission, and maybe my husband will go along… with no ifs, ands or “butts” about it!

Grab your gear and get back to nature.

I’ve always been a city girl at heart, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate nature.  In fact, I may even appreciate it more as I see the direct effect of suburban development near my home (and the herds of deer that have taken up residence in the ravine behind my house and spent one night devouring all of my landscaping!)

camp-at-homeAnd while I’m not one to ‘rough it’ either, I realize that getting back to nature doesn’t mean you have to spend a small fortune at the outdoor store and drive for hours to set-up camp in some remote region of the country.  Your own backyard can be the ideal campsite.

This Saturday (June 27), in fact, is the Great American Backyard Campout.

Conceived by the National Wildlife Federation, this is a day they have created to invite families to reconnect with nature and the outdoors, and remind us that we can manage life “with a little less”.  You can set up tents, cookout over a fire pit, explore your surroundings, play flashlight tag, star gaze and our kids’ ever-favorite… gorge on S’mores!  Shut down all the lights, computers and TVs in your house and even save a little electricity while you’re at it. (Indoor latrine, via flashlight, permitted of marsh-roastcourse!)

If you want to find out who’s camping nearby, or register your own outing, check out NWFs site for more information.

I think this is a great opportunity to join families all over the country in embracing everything the great outdoors has to offer.  Now the only fear I have is waking up to find Bambi staring me in the face!

Summer and the most organic produce has arrived…

lettuce-gardenSummer has arrived!  Yippee!

Not only does summer gift us with the best weather of the year, endless opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy every activity imaginable but also the gift of the freshest organic produce to grace our tables (“hold” the harmful and dangerous pesticides!).

In fact, this weekend while visiting my in-laws house, I was assembling a wonderful BLT (I normally steer clear of bacon, but it smelled so temptingly good, I couldn’t stop myself!), but the lettuce was fresh from my mother-in-law’s garden so it felt a little more justifiable.  It was so organic that I actually had to wash off the dirt and lovingly picked off two tiny little green bugs and released them back into the yard!  (My sister-in-law and niece thought I was nuts!) If the lettuce had come from the grocery store I probably would have squealed in horror, but knowing it came from a true organic garden, it just kind of felt accefarmers-produceptable!

Maybe you have a backyard garden (not me, unfortunately… we have far too many trees and ravenous deer… they’ve even come onto my patio to get my veggies when I’ve attempted to grow them!).  If you were lucky enough to participate in a CSA, you’re probably already enjoying some amazing bounty.  But if not, remember to take advantage of the season.  Locate your nearest farmer’s market (check Local Harvest or the Farmer’s Market sites if you need help) and indulge in locally-grown, organic produce while you can.

Remember the dirty dozen and the clean 15 too… the necessary and unnecessary organic produce, if you feel you need to pick and choose what to buy.

Since our own garden isn’t an option in the foreseeable future, I will be visiting the local farmers markets and taking my mother-on-law up on her offer to “come by and just take what I need”… the dirt and bugs are just a part of nature’s goodness!

Countdown to Father’s Day… help “Daddy Go Green”!

dad-super-wordDaddy’s big day is just around the corner.  Maybe, if you’re like our family, you go light on the gifts (or request no gifts at all!) but if you’re still hard-pressed for that perfect eco-gift, there is still time.

Don’t panic! Here are some great ideas!:

  • Buy a tree to plant – I bought a beautiful Japanese Cherry tree for my husband on his first Father’s Day.  Seven years later it has grown tremendously and we look forward to the spring blooms every year!
  • Make a gift – this falls into that beloved “reuse” category.  Search your house and garage and you’re sure to find plenty of supplies to “build the perfect gift” or unique piece of art!
  • Electronics solar charger – self-explanatory… free power from the sun… imagine that!
  • Golf accessories – now, more than ever, pro-shops are carrying bags and accessories made of recycled materials and even golf balls that biodegrade in days (after those unfortunate sinkers in the water glass-beerhazard!).
  • Bamboo knives or grilling setbamboo is incredible and every dad loves to be the king of the grill.
  • Organic brew – what dad doesn’t love a nice “cold one” (or five!) to keep him company while he “mans” the grill!
  • Reusable water bottle – for sports, workouts or whenever he’s taking water with him, reusable and BPA-free stainless steel bottles always have a use.
  • iTunes – CDs are so passe, right?  Remember that statistic about 45 tons of CDs winding up in landfills monthly… sheesh!
  • Solar powered landscaping lights – if he’s a man who loves his yard, yet another way for a little extra flare with free energy from the sun.
  • “Give your time” – whether it’s a hike in nature, a picnic at a local park or a family cookout under the trees in your own backyard, he loves your time!

Ideal Bite also has a great list of eco-gifts (time is running short, and you might have to pay a bit to get them there on time, but you might just locate a “must have”!).

jimkukral4All of that “suggested”, I just want to wish my wonderful husband and daddy of our two amazing kids a wonderful Father’s Day.  I think I have the most incredible husband in the world because he deals with all of my green stuff, does the very best he can and actually gets sad and frustrated when work keeps him from doing the ‘fun stuff’ with me and the kids.  Who doesn’t love a husband that respects his wife and a daddy that LOVES to be with his family… we love you, honey!

Okay, enough of the mushies to make everyone choke…

Happy Father’s Day to every awesome dad out there. From Mom Goes Green to every dad that loves his fam, embraces “going green” or does the best he can, you rock!  Have a fabulous day!