March 4, 2012

Simplify Your Life Series: A Greener Life

If you're looking to simplify a little bit of your life or achieve a major overhaul then join me for our last installment of the ten part series as we work alongside Country Living's Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old-Fashioned Ideas to Simplify Your Life by Susan Waggoner.  I pick a few points in each chapter, expound upon them and share some of my own tips.  Grab your favorite cuppa and join along!  (Start at the beginning HERE.)

A Greener Life

"It's the twenty-first century.  Do you know where your energy dollars are?  Living greener isn't a punishment, nor is it a fad.  It's the smart thing to do, and no matter who you are or where you live, you can find as many reasons to go green as there are ways to do it."  -- Susan Waggoner

Green at Home
Install a programmable thermostat or get into the habit of lowering the heat before bed.  Cutting back by ten degrees overnight in winter, and raising it by ten degrees in the summer could cut your annual bill by as much as 20 percent.  (This is something that is our intention when our littlest is a bit bigger and can stay covered up during the night...right now he's a four month old roly-poly.)  If you don't have a programmable thermostat and plan to buy one, call your energy provider first.  Many utilities are now offering them free to customers.  Use your windows to help control the temperature indoors. If your windows are well-insulated, take advantage of them -- keep curtains open on sunny winter days to get the benefit of the sun's heat.  In summer months, lower the shades on all but north-facing windows during the day.  Use a humidifier in the winter months.  Cold and furnace heat dry the air, but returning it to normal levels will make the house feel warmer without raising the temperature.  In the summer months, keep rooms at 78 degrees or warmer.  Below 78 degrees, energy consumption begins to skyrocket, and can increase fuel use by 40 percent.  

In the Car
When miles per hour increase, miles per gallon decrease. Peak operating efficiency for most cars (including hybrids) is in the 30-55 mph range, with gas use steadily increasing at higher speeds.   Above 55 mph, each additional 10 mph will burn about 15 percent more gas.  Don't floor it.  Sudden, all-out accelerations and abrupt stops are hard on your car and burn fuel unnecessarily, so keep a light foot on the accelerator and get into the habit of breaking gradually. (Hybrids require a different approach so consult your owner's manual.)  Before you get in the car, consider the alternative.  Ask yourself,  "Is this trip necessary?"  Hike it on feet or trek it on bike if you can.

Reuse and Repurpose:  The Nine Lives of Everyday Objects
Itty bitty slivers of soap can be used up by putting them in a small mesh or organza bag and using them as a loofah in the shower.  Plastic bags from the grocery store are a great lining for waste baskets.  Old toothbrushes, cleaned and sterilized, are wonderful for cleaning small intricate jewelry, graters, garlic presses...anything with a nook and cranny that needs a good scrubbing.  Store extra blankets in your empty luggage.  Tuck in a used dryer sheet so both your blankets and luggage smell fresh!  Old socks make the perfect pet toy or a puppet for the kiddos.  We have a basket on the dryer for those lonely old socks that lost their mate.  My kids love to dive into our button jar to add some eyes, sew on some yarn hair, doodle a face with Sharpies and have a ball!  If you burn scented candles, save the wax that's left when the wick has burned away.  Toss them in a potpourri burner and enjoy the scent once more. My hubby makes a tart warmer that I sell on my Etsy site HERE.

Dryer Sheets:  The Indispensable Disposable
There is a section on dryer sheets and all the wonderful uses for them!  I'll share one with you. When I would go out to the goat barn to milk the goat last summer the bugs would meet me at the mudroom door ready to feast on me.  A friend shared the trick of rubbing a dryer sheet over my exposed skin to repel the skeeters. You know what?  It worked!  If I were working outside for more than thirty minutes or so I would take it with me and reapply as needed.  Give it a try!

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* photos courtesy of Country Living

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This post is part of the Homestead Barn Hop.

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