It’s been pretty miserably hot here in Southern Minnesota this summer, and July is probably going to follow suit. Here’s some easy ways to go green and save money in July.
1. Celebrate Independents Month. Local businesses in the Twin Cities area are taking part in this campaign to encourage residents to shop local, but you can take part in any city. Try to shop at local businesses this month as much as possible. You’ll help the community and will often find surprising sales and service.
2. Upgrade to an Energy Star air conditioner or ceiling fan. If you still have an old window air conditioner unit that sucks energy (and money), this is a perfect time to invest in a newer, better model. Many communities in Minnesota and around the country are offering rebates on Energy Star air conditioners, ceiling fans and dehumidifiers. Call your city office to see if rebates are available in your area. Either way, you’ll save money and help the environment.
3. Turn off the a/c and keep cool other ways. Better yet, challenge your family to keep the air conditioner off as much as possible. Here’s 50 ways to stay cool without air conditioning.
4. Make no-cook meals at least 3 nights a week. No cook doesn’t have to mean second best. One of the best parts of summer is the abundance of wonderful produce to make simple and succulent meals. Good choices for lunch and dinner include sliced watermelon, homemade subs, salads, fruit medleys, sandwiches and wraps. These meals are healthy, avoid processed foods, keep the kitchen cool, require very little energy and help your family get all the fruits and vegetables they need. They also just taste like summer!
5. Buy something local in bulk and put it up for winter. Local farmers often have surpluses of wonderful seasonal produce this time of year and you can get great deals on local foods that you can put up yourself. There’s still about a week left to pick your own strawberries in Southern Minnesota, for instance, and vendors at the farmers’ market may be willing to give you a great deal on bulk purchases of produce that they have extras of. You don’t have to know how to can to put foods up (though it’s very handy to know!). Make freezer strawberry jam or just freeze pounds of red ripe strawberries (to do: spread washed, hulled strawberries in a single layer on a cookie sheet, freeze for several hours and then bag up in freezer bags or put in large freezer containers). Wash and prep other produce like spinach or peas and then blanch them in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, plunge in an ice bath and flash freeze as above to keep these local goodies in the freezer for months. You’ll save money, help local growers and also often have better quality food (with fewer or no pesticides) than you can find elsewhere.