Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Solstice

This weekend marks the official start of summer. With warmer weather, vacations and outdoor activities, it's a great time to switch from the Eco-friendly tips we adopted in the winter to those that will keep us, and the earth, comfortable all summer.

Here are some ideas:
  • Turn your A/C thermostat to 75 degrees or higher. Better yet, don't use it at all.
  • Use ceiling fans. Adjust them so that they run in a counter-clockwise direction (stand under the fan and if you feel a breeze, it's set correctly).
  • Use box fans or small space fans to help circulate air. And here's a tip ... when it's cool outside, put a fan in the window facing in and blow cool air into the room. When it's hot inside, reverse it ... put a fan in the window facing out and blow the hot air outside. It works amazingly well.
  • Adjust the curtains and windows. Open them when it's cool and the sun isn't shining in. When the sun comes around, close both the windows and the shades.
  • Turn off all electrical devices when not in use. For example, when you're not using the computer, turn it off ... you'd be surprised at how much heat a computer puts out (there's a reason there are little fans inside of computers). And don't forget lights ... they generate quite a lot of heat as well.
  • Eat local and organic. Summer is the perfect time to eat fresh, local, organic produce. Support farmer's markets, CSAs and roadside stands. Or, start a garden and grow your own.
  • Get some exercise and leave the car at home. This is the perfect time of year to walk or ride a bike ... so give the car, and our air, a break.
  • Are you planning some landscaping this summer? Be sure to opt for native plants ... they'll require far less water and fertilizer.
  • If you use large appliances like dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers ... operate them either early in the morning or late at night ... you'll not only save money by not running them during peak hours, you'll save energy.
  • Consider using a clothes line and make use of the sun.
  • Going on a picnic? Be sure to use reusable dishes and utensils ... no paper plates or plastic forks. And don't forget cloth napkins instead of paper. When the picnic is over, be sure to clean the area ... leaving nothing but your footprints.
  • Opt for counter top cooking rather than using an oven ... toaster ovens and crock pots make wonderful meals without using a lot of energy.
  • Are you planning a vacation? Consider a "staycation", playing tourist in your own town. If you decide to leave town, check out this post first: Vacations - The Eco-Friendly Way.
  • When buying typical summer products (sun lotions, swim suits, pool toys, etc.) be sure they are Eco-friendly.
  • Forgo expensive souvenirs and take digital photos instead. If you really want a souvenir, consider something from nature ... a rock or piece of driftwood.
  • Start a compost bin ... summer is the perfect time for composting.
  • Planning a little hiking or camping this summer? Remember to carry out what you carry in ... no littering. In fact, it's a pretty good rule for any activity, anytime.
I haven't forgotten those of you who are moving into winter. For our friends on the other side of the world, check out these posts:
With just a little effort, any season can be Eco-friendly ... and wonderful!

Happy Summer (or Winter) everyone!

Just a reminder ... this week's challenge is still in play. Click on the picture to the left to read all about it.


  1. I love summer time. Today I am heading down to the lake and next week the children and I are going to the ocean. Don't worry, I will green up every event!

  2. The Tip about turning off your computer when not in use not only saves energy cooling your house but they use a surprising amount of electricity.
    I've stopped leaving my home office computer on at night and my electric bill dropped by $20 a month. That's $120 a year.
    BTW: another way to save on cooling costs is to take cold showers. I've got my hacked together solar hot water heater and on a hot day like today I can use it all and get blasted by super cold water for a minute. Even at 85 degree air temperature it takes a half hour or so to warm back up.

  3. I cannot say enough about the joys of line-drying. Even in our tiny apartment, we forgo the electric dryer except for emergencies.

    It took a little time to figure out how to get everything to dry, but who doesn't like a puzzle? (This is a big principle: make the challenge into a puzzle, so solving it is fun!)

    We learned, for example, that socks dry fine on a set of over-the-door hooks; t-shirts dry fine on coathangers hanging on the shower rod. We have a folding rack for towels and such; it's paid for itself many times over in electricity saved.

    The one lifestyle adaptation is that airdried/sundried towels are crisper, more exfoliating, less fluffy. Frankly, we've learned to love them that way but it's a change.

    One you go airdrying, you'll never go back! Even in a tiny apartment, it pays!

  4. Thanks for best idea and solutions,best wishes

  5. Hi Small Footprints :)

    Hmmm... it's summer all year long here at my place, and I definitely understand and appreciate your tips. I would like to add that (for men only), taking off that shirt sure helps too :D

  6. Wonderful ideas, as always.

    My tip to add to the stove-top cooking, try not cooking at all! Make it a point to fresh, no-cook meals a couple of nights a week. Summer is the best times for for fresh, local, often organic fruits, veggies, cheeses, breads... most of them available from you local farmers markets!

  7. Great list :-)

    About clothes drying: Did you know clothes will dry just fine outside on a clothes line in the winter, too? I dry my clothes in the attic, which is so drafty it's almost as cold up there as outside. It's frequently somewhere around -5 degrees celcius (23 degrees Fahrenheit). Admittedly it might take a while for the clothes to dry, but they do. The most important thing when it comes to drying clothes is that there is ample air circulation around them.

    Also, if you want even more tips for staying cool in the summer, I'd like to offer my recent series of posts about green home cooling.

  8. I like the cycling tip, but I would say that you can always ride your bike - not only during summer. That is what we do in Denmark.

    Also the tip about the compost bin is one of favourites. Even thoug I live in an appartment I will try to get a small compost bin arranged in the kitchen.

  9. Yay! I do many of these. We don't even have AC in our little log house - at 3400 feet, in a nice shady cove with the creek, we just don't need it!

    And everyone who knows me knows if adore rocks and things like that. People say "what can I bring you back from my trip?" and I say "ROCKS!" but they don't believe me!

  10. Wow-- I'm doing great. Air is on 80 (and it is 100+ outside) I use the crockpot all the time and everything is unplugged.