Earth-friendly tips for autumn

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Autumn is upon us, and with the change of seasons comes the fall to-do list that must be completed before the arrival of winter weather. Many outdoor jobs are best completed before temperatures drop, while others can be tackled indoors to help save energy and prepare for increased time spent inside the home.

Outdoor cleanup
Autumn means leaves are falling from trees and littering landscapes. Cleaning up leaves can be a time-consuming task, but it’s necessary to promote the health of lawns and other plants. Grass that is completely matted down with leaves can become starved for light and moisture, and lawns may even rot when forced to spend winter beneath fallen leaves.
One eco-friendly timesaver is to shred leaves with a mower (a manual mower is preferable) and leave them as topdressing for the lawn. As long as the grass blades can be seen within the leaves, the lawn should be fine. Shredded leaves will decompose and add necessary nutrients and organic matter to the soil naturally.
Leaves also can be used in annual flower and vegetable gardens to improve the soil. Mulch made from shredded leaves can be placed on the soil around trees and shrubs. This helps to reduce weed problems and protects root systems from harsh temperature fluctuations.

Clothing donations
It’s time to pack away summer clothing and once again fill closets and drawers with sweaters and jeans. Before packing away your summer wardrobe, conduct an inventory to determine if there are any items you no longer use. Donate these items or use them as rags when cleaning.
Keep some short-sleeved shirts accessible so you can layer them under sweatshirts and sweaters. The heat from layering will be trapped against your body and keep you cozier, reducing your reliance on HVAC systems to stay warm.

Home repairs
Check the roof for any missing shingles. In addition, look for spots where animals or insects may be able to gain entry into your home. Seal these areas and repair any leaks. This will make your home more efficient later on when winter hits its stride.
Remove window air conditioners for the winter. If they can’t be removed, seal them with caulking or tape and cover them with an airtight, insulated jacket. If you have forced-air systems, move furniture away from the vents so that air can flow better around the home and keep it comfortable.
Check weatherstripping around windows and doors and make the necessary adjustments. Installing additional insulation also can help reduce energy consumption.

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