Most New Year's resolutions have to do with improving your life by losing weight, quitting smoking, etc. But what about your home and garden? Here are some tips to help make the place you live more sustainable and friendlier to the environment. Scripps Howard News Service
Lights out. Remind everyone to turn off lights, TVs, computers and other devices when they leave the room. Put computers and other energy guzzlers on a power strip so you can turn off all of them at once.
Efficient appliances. Refrigerators are one of the biggest users of electricity. To save energy, keep the fridge at 37 degrees and the freezer at 0. When it's time for a new one, get an Energy Star model.
Shut off the sprinkler. Water lawns only once a week. Use a coffee can to find out how long it takes to apply 1 inch of water and run it only that long. Even better, plant shrubs and flowers that require no more than 1 inch of water a week.
Neither paper nor plastic.
Keep canvas shopping bags in your car and remember to use them at the grocery store.
Muscle grass into mulch. Ditch the power mower for a push mower. Or, if that's too hard, trade in your bagger for a mulching mower, which cuts the grass into tiny pieces that break down faster and don't need to be raked.
Start composting. Instead of putting leaves and grass clippings out by the curb, add them to kitchen waste and get compost — a garden's best friend.
Look at your windows. If they're more than 20 years old, consider adding interior or exterior storms. Temporary interior storm kits — installed with a blow dryer — help a little, but permanent storms are even better. If your double-hung windows are very drafty and/or leaky, you may be able to replace the sashes only and keep the frame and trim intact. If they're too far gone, replace them with thermal units.
Get an energy audit done. Chances are you'll find out you need to add more insulation and weatherstripping/caulking around your doors, windows and foundation.
Source: Pennsylvania Resources Council