Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Whether you’re traveling away from home or hosting the feast at your place, these tips will help you have a happy, healthy and environmentally-friendly holiday gathering.

For travelers…

AAA estimates that more than 43 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Ninety percent – nearly 39 million – will travel by car. Whether your destination is near or far, use these tips to travel safely, save gas and save money.

  • Build an emergency kit. Increased traveling distance and unpredictable weather can result in hazardous driving conditions at this time of year. Make sure your car is equipped with a scraper, flashlight, blankets, cell phones, booster cables and emergency flares or cones. Have water and non-perishable food like energy or granola bars on hand, too. Click on the image at right to download.
  • Check your tires. The right tire pressure can improve mileage by over three percent, saving 60-90 dollars per year for the average driver. Check the owner’s manual for your vehicle to find the right pressure settings.
  • Carpool. The average distance traveled over Thanksgiving is about 600 miles. If nearby friends and family are going to the same place, travel together to save gas and reduce the number of cars on the road.
  • Don’t idle. If you stop to eat or stretch your legs, turn the car off.  Idling for just two minutes uses the same amount of gas used to drive one mile!
  • Pack lightly. Extra weight in the car or trunk decreases fuel efficiency.

For hosts…

The holiday season is a time for joyful gatherings of family and friends. But a house full of guests can also result in higher energy bills, increased water use and stressed septic systems. Use these tips to save energy, save water and save money.

  • Resist the urge to peek. Opening the oven door to check on a culinary masterpiece can drop the oven temperature by up to 25 degrees, making your oven work harder and use more energy to stay warm. Use the light to check on food, instead.
  • Give your furnace a break. Drop the temperature on the thermostat when heat isn’t needed as much, such as when you are sleeping. Make it easy with a programmable thermostat.
  • Save H2O. Prepping and cleaning up after a holiday meal can use a lot of water. Save a few gallons by thawing frozen foods in the refrigerator instead of using running tap water. Scrape dirty dishes before you put them in the dishwasher rather than rinsing to save even more.
  • Don’t overwhelm the system. For the 20 percent of Americans who use septic tanks for wastewater treatment, extra guests can overwhelm the system. Remind house guests not to use drains and toilets as trash cans. And make sure your system is properly maintained to avoid backups and overflows – not only are these costly for homeowners, but they can also contaminate well water and community drinking water supplies.

(Sources: AAA. “Thanksgiving Travel Forecast: 43.4 Million Americans to Travel for Thanksgiving, A Slight Decline from Last Year.” http://newsroom.aaa.com; Ready.gov, “Build a Kit.” http://www.ready.gov/kit-storage-locations; FuelEconomy.gov, “Gas Mileage Tips,” http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/drive.shtml;  Green Your. “Avoid Car Idling.” http://www.greenyour.com/transportation/car/car-driving/tips/avoid-car-idling) U.S Department of Energy. “Energy-Efficient Cooking for Winter.” http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/energy-efficient-cooking-winter; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Winter Tips.” http://www.epa.gov/epahome/hi-winter.htm; Keehner, Denise M., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Wetlands Oceans and Watersheds. “Holidays can pose challenges for those with septic systems: Easy ways to keep your holidays smelling sweet.”)

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