Whether relaxing at home or off exploring the great outdoors there are many ways people can save money, cut energy costs and continue to protect the health of their families while still enjoying the summer. Here are 15 tips from EPA:
1. Energy Star savings for your home: The average home spends almost 20 percent of its utility bill on cooling. These cooling bills can be lowered by simply changing out incandescent light bulbs with EPA's Energy Star qualified lighting, which use less energy and produce approximately 75 percent less heat. Raising your thermostat by only two degrees and using your ceiling fan can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent too.
2. Increase your gas mileage: Obey the speed limit; go easy on the brakes and avoid hard accelerations; reduce your time idling; and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you're not using your removable roof rack, take it off to improve your fuel economy.
3. Prevent skin cancer and be SunWise: Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and is the most common cancer among 20- to 30-year-olds. Remember to practice safe sun habits.
4. Heading to the beach? Check the water: Americans take almost 2 billion trips to the beach every year. Beaches are a place to play, watch wildlife, fish and swim. Learn more on how to plan a safe trip to the beach and check out state-specific beach advisory and closing notifications.
5. Take EPA's apps with you on your smartphone: The AirNow app gives location-specific current air quality information to use to protect your health when planning daily activities and the Ultraviolet (UV) Index app provides daily and hourly forecast of the UV radiation levels from the sun so you can better prevent overexposure to the sun.
6. Enjoy the outdoors and capture the State of the Environment. Almost 40 years ago, EPA's Documerica project captured thousands of images across the nation as EPA’s work was just beginning. Now it’s your chance to mark the progress and submit environmental photos to EPA's State of the Environment photo project.
7. Protect yourself with insect repellents: Mosquitoes and ticks can carry diseases but you can protect yourself by choosing the right repellent and using it correctly. Read the product label before using, apply just enough to cover exposed skin and clothing and look for the protection time that meets your needs. Children can use the same repellents as adults unless there is a restriction on the label.
8. Water wisely: A large percentage of water we use at home is used outdoors. As much as 30 percent of that outdoor water use can be wasted due to evaporation by watering in the middle of the day. Water in the morning when winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Look for the new WaterSense-labeled weather-based irrigation controller that uses local weather data to determine whether your sprinkler system should turn on.
9. Clean greener: If you're going to wash the car, deck, boat or RV, be sure to look for the Design for the Environment (DfE) label to quickly identify and choose cleaning products that are safer for families and also help protect the environment. Look for the DfE label on grill cleaners as well.
10. Improve your indoor air quality: About 90 percent of people's time is spent indoors. While inside this summer, make sure to free your house of mold, test your home for radon, check your carbon monoxide detector and ask those who smoke to go outdoors.
11. Check into an Energy Star hotel: On average, America’s 47,000 hotels spend more than $2,000 per available room each year on energy. Look for an Energy Star-certified hotel. They perform in the top 25 percent of hotels nationwide, use an average of 35 percent less energy and emit an average of 35 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than peers.
12. Waste less and remember to recycle: Each year, Americans generate millions of tons of waste in homes and communities but it's easy to reduce, reuse and recycle. Recycled items such as glass can be used in roadway asphalt (glassphalt) and recovered plastic can be used in carpeting and park benches. Learn what you can do to waste less.
13. Season firewood: Summer is a great time to season firewood in preparation for fall and winter. Remember to split firewood to the proper size for your wood stove or fireplace, but no larger than 6 inches in diameter; stack firewood to allow air to circulate around it; cover the top of the stack to protect it from the rain; and store your firewood for at least 6 months before using it.
14. Looking for a summer project and tired of the heat? Try composting: Composting can be a fun and educational summer project that saves landfill space, helps feed the soil and prevents methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
15. Let summer inspire you and submit Six Words for the Planet: Keep the creativity flowing beyond the school year and into the summer by submitting a meaningful story or idea in just six words.
More hot tips for a cool summer: http://www.epa.gov/epahome/hi-summer.htm