Keep Our Area Beautiful (and Save Some Money) this Earth Day!

Earthday

For eco-conscious homeowners in the greater Princeton area, Earth Day offers a chance for both reflection and action. This year’s Earth Day, celebrated on April 22nd, marks the holiday’s 45th anniversary — and there are more ways than ever before to observe.

The great thing about environmental stewardship is that it starts at home. People can contribute to the planet’s health while also increasing the value of their property. It’s win-win!

Here are just a few steps residents of central NJ can take to help the Earth and their wallets:

Plant a Tree: Besides just being beautiful, trees also come with many environmental and economic benefits. They reduce CO2 in the air and provide shade during the summer months. This reduces AC bills and saves homeowners money.

Best of all, planting a tree can increase the value of your home when you go to sell it — sometimes by as much as $10,000!

Folks interested in planting trees on their property can visit the NJ Shade Tree Federation, the NJ Tree Foundation and the NJ Native Plant Society for information on the best trees for our habitat.

When it comes time to start digging, you can find saplings and trees to plant at The Village Nurseries in Highstown, NJ.

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Village Nurseries in Hightstown

Switch out your Light Bulbs: If you want to see some fast results from your Earth Day labors while you’re waiting for that tree to grow, consider switching your home’s light bulbs to more eco-friendly models, like a Compact Fluorescent Lamp.

Making the switch can save some serious green — every 13-watt CFL will save you almost $13 each year compared to a standard 60-watt bulb.

NJ residents can make changes at the speed of light by shopping at the New Jersey Clean Energy Program’s online store for discounted energy-efficient lighting and get free shipping on orders of more than $25.

Plant an Herb Garden: Planting an herb garden is a fun way to save some money at the grocery store and enjoy delicious meals at home. It’s also a great way to connect with the Earth and gain an appreciation for where our food comes from. Because it’s easier and less resource intensive than a full vegetable garden, it can be a great project for kids as well.

Our area is ripe with great places to pick up fresh herb plants and other garden staples, like Kale’s Nursery in Princeton, which the NY Times recently ranked as the #1 nursery in Mercer County.

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The Garden Center at Kale’s Nursery

Energy Audit: Energy audits are a great way to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. A certified technician will come out to your home and assess the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems, your hot water system, the home’s insulation, and conduct an overall health and safety check.

The result is a list of recommendations that can boost your home’s energy efficiency and financial incentives that will help to pay for any work that needs to be done.

Cutting down on your carbon output can save you up to $2,500 each year and make your home more attractive to prospective buyers.  You can schedule an audit for your property through the NJ Clean Energy Program.

Rain Barrel: Rain barrels can add a touch of rustic charm to your property while saving you money on water bills. Rainwater from storms can be saved, stored, and used for basic landscape irrigation. The EPA estimates that a rain barrel can reduce your water consumption by about 1,300 gallons during the hottest months of summer and some surveys have pegged the cost savings at roughly $35 per month.

There are no state incentives in place for NJ residents to install rain barrels on their property, but the costs involved are minimal. You can construct one for under $300 and once you’ve set it up, it’s a low-maintenance landscaping tool that can increase your home’s value.

Just in time for Earth Day, the Stonybrook-Millstone Watershed Association in Pennington is holding a Build a Rain Barrel workshop on Saturday, April 25th.

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The New Stonybrook-Millstone Watershed Center

Get Involved:  Although conservation starts at home, Earth Day also gives us an opportunity to come together with our neighbors in support of a common cause.

Starting on Saturday, April 18th, the greater Princeton area will play host to dozens of Earth Day events. These range from an inaugural town wide yard sale, Litter Marches, educational seminars and panels, recycling forums, and much more — even a Shad Fest on the Delaware River! Interested residents can find a complete list of Earth Day activities here.

And even though Earth Day comes just once a year, caring for the environment is always important. With the tips outlined above, homeowners can make a lasting impact on the planet and save some money in the process.

We’re lucky to live in such a beautiful corner of the world, and should all do whatever we can to keep it that way!