Going Green in Spring – Energy Use and Plant Care

These tips have been provided by members of the Dominican Sisters of Peace Eco-Justice Committee.


  1. Did you know that about 90% of the energy the washing machine uses goes towards heating the water? Washing in cold water saves energy, saves your clothes and could help save the planet. For more information, check out this website: Cold Water Saves | The American Cleaning Institute (ACI).
  2. Consider doing an energy audit of your home. A home energy audit or home energy assessment can help you see the whole picture of your homes energy use. Spring and summer are good times to fix any problems you can find. You can hire a profession or do it yourself by following the guidance on www.energy.gov.
  3. Turn off the lights when leaving a room (unless someone is there!)
  4. Planning to purchase a new appliance? Look for “ENERGY STAR” items that are rated to use less power. You might even be able to get a rebate or a tax credit. For a list of Energy Star appliances and more information, click here.
  5. Do you need lighting in your garden or walkway? Outdoor solar lighting are a great alternative. The lights recharge in the sun and can be set to automatically turn on when the sun goes down.
  6. A programmable thermostat is a great energy saving device. Set it so that when you are away from home or in bed, the temperature is adjusted and energy saved. When you are out of your home for a prolonged time – out of town or on vacation – adjust your thermostat.
  7. Now’s the time to service your air conditioner. Replacing and/or cleaning air filters can lower energy consumption by up to 15%.
  8. Open your windows and naturally cool your house. You also get the advantage of hear the spring bird songs!
  9. Use your grill! This will keep the heat out of the house.



  1. Development has eliminated so much of our natural world, we are losing species of plants and animals. We can join the “Home Grown National Park” in our own properties to increase the biodiversity that is needed to save species.
  2. Choose native trees, shrubs, forbs and ground covers for about 70% of your landscape.
  3. Reduce areas of grass as it contributes nothing to the environment.
  4. Plant in the spring or fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.
  5. Avoid large areas of mulch. Instead, cover the area with more plants to conserve water. In a healthy ecosystem, we usually do not see large bare areas of earth.
  6. When using mulch, consider using home made compost.
  7. In the spring, do not remove leaves from flower beds unless they are over 3 inches in depth. Insects need leaf matter in which to over winter and lay eggs. Some butterflies overwinter in leaves. The decaying leaves then will return nutrients to the soil as plants grow up through and around them.
  8. Planting rosemary is a natural and low-tech way to block mosquitos.
  9. Direct water from rain gutters and HVAC systems toward water-loving plants in the landscape or a rain barrel. The county Soil and Water department may have free resources and educational programs to help.
  10. Water sparingly. Native plants, once established do not need much water due to their deep roots.
  11. Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs.
  12. Recognize how you can water plants with water you may otherwise throw out…dropped ice cubes, fish tank water or cooled pasta water.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog