What’s more beautiful than the fall colors that adorn Princeton each autumn? Leaving those leaves where they can do some good.Read More
In early summer, Princeton residents Carol and Carl Haag became the 100th Princeton homeowners to take part in our EnergySmart Homes Campaign by undergoing a home energy audit. The campaign, which launched in October 2013, is still going strong with 139 homes audited and more than 20 homeowners implementing their recommended energy efficiency improvements. The 20+ homeowners have collectively received over $80,000 in cash-back rebates and incentives and on average will reduce their annual energy consumption by more than 25%. The discounted $49 audit price offered by Ciel Power is available until the end of December so it is not too late to schedule your audit. Winter will be here before you know it.
What’s more beautiful than the fall colors that adorn Princeton each autumn? Leaving those leaves where they can do some good. Consider them an asset to the soil and plants. The Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC) recommends 6 things you can do to take advantage of leaves:
- The simplest thing to do is to rake or blow leaves into your woodlot, if available, or in an obscured portion of your yard such as behind shrubs.
- Mulch leaves with a mower so they can disappear back into the lawn. The fragmented leaves can also be raked onto flower beds as a mulch—a technique particularly appropriate for owners of small lots. Some leaves, like those of silver maples, crinkle-up and all but disappear into the lawn on their own, even before mowing. For thick, persistent leaves like those from a red oak, a corral or the mulch mower approach will keep them from blowing back into the yard. Though a mower with a mulching blade would be optimal, all power mowers should do an adequate job.
- Spread leaves on garden and leave them there to hold in moisture, suppress weeds, keep the soil cool in the summer, and slowly release nutrients. Planting tomatoes, for instance, requires nothing more than parting the leaves to put the new plants in. The leaf mulch reduces rotting of any tomatoes that touch the ground.
- Create a leaf corral. A corral or circle of wire fencing will help contain the leaves and keep them from blowing around. A readily available fencing is 3 feet high, green, and comes in rolls at the local hardware store. The corral is essentially invisible when tucked in a back corner of the lot. A U-shape may be preferred so that leaves can be raked right into the enclosure rather than lifted over the fencing. The leaf pile quickly reduces in size over the winter. The leaves can be left to decompose, acting like a sponge to catch the rain, and releasing nutrients to benefit the health of all trees and other landscaping in the vicinity. Contrary to popular notions of composting, it is not necessary to laboriously turn the pile. Leaf piles do not create odors.
- Use leaves to control weeds by raking them towards the fence line where they can serve as a mulch to keep down weeds that often dominate there. Dump leaves on any other weeds or groundcovers that are getting out of control. A thick layer of leaves discourages weeds. For weeds or groundcovers strong enough to push up through the leaves, first place overlapping pieces of cardboard on the undesired plants, then use the leaves over top to hide the cardboard. Both will decompose over time.
- If the leaves must leave the property, bag them.
Taking these steps will reduce flooding, water and noise pollution, energy consumption, and municipal costs.
Click here for the PEC's Princeton's Guide to Fall Leaf Management for more information.
Mark your calendar for Princeton's annual S.H.R.R.E.D TEMBERFEST taking place Saturday, September 20th from 10 AM to 2 PM at multiple locations. This annual event organized by the Public Works Department and provided by the NJ Clean Communities Grant & the NJ DEP Recycling Tonnage Grant, is a great way for Princeton residents to recycle many household items rather than send them to a landfill. Shred your personal documents - 10 am - 2 pm, Witherspoon Hall Parking Lot, Witherspoon St.
Rain Barrels $30.00 per barrel (small quantities available), Witherspoon Hall Municipal Plaza
Recycle home medical equipment - 10 am - 2 pm, Witherspoon Hall Parking Lot, Witherspoon St.
Electronic & computer recycling - 10 am - 2 pm, Witherspoon Hall Parking Lot, Witherspoon St.
Dumpster discards & Donate bikes - 10 am -2 pm, Valley Rd & Witherspoon St.
Backyard compost bins will also be available for the subsidized price of $30. Backyard composting is a great way to divert food waste from being sent to the landfill. According to the EPA's 2012 Municipal Solid Waste Characterization Report, 21% of waste going to municipal landfills is food waste. We can put that waste to a better purpose by composting and putting important nutrients back into the soil. Limited bins are available so arrive early.
Rain barrels will also be available for the subsidized price of $30. According to the EPA, lawn and gardening take up about 40% of water usage during the summer months in the Mid-Atlantic. Rain barrels help conserve water and energy. It takes energy to treat and transport water to consumers. To learn more about rain barrels, check out this FAQ from the Rutgers Water Resources Program.
Also taking place on this day, is the Mercer County Improvement Authority's Household Hazardous Waste Collection and Electronic Recycling Event. Mercer County residents can bring hazardous waste and electronics for recycling and safe disposal. The event takes place at the John T. Dempster Fire School 350 Lawrence Station Road, Lawrenceville. Go here for details on what materials are accepted.
Not able to make it S.H.R.R.E.D TEMBERFEST or to the MCIA event, check out the Princeton Municipal website for more information about recycling.
Princeton Homeowners know a lot more about their home energy usage these days! Thanks to the EnergySmart Homes Campaign, eighty of your neighbors and friends have had home energy assessments to date. If you haven't already signed up, we can help you get started on improving the energy efficiency, comfort and safety of your home.
To schedule an EnergySmart Homes assessment at the discounted $49 rate, you can call our partner, Ciel Power LLC at 201-632-3463 or sign up via the Ciel Power website.
For more information, read on below, and be sure to come to our EnergySmart Homes panel at the Princeton Public Library on Tuesday, June 10 at 7:00 p.m. to hear real life stories of Princeton residents who have conducted energy audits and made the recommended energy upgrades to their homes. Stay tuned for details about this event on our events listing.
What is a home energy assessment?
A home energy assessment, or audit, identifies where your home is wasting energy, what systems are working inefficiently and proposes cost effective solutions. It also identifies how you can maximize rebates and financial incentives from NJ's Home Performance with Energy Star program to help you offset the cost of those solutions, and identifies potential health hazards such as carbon monoxide levels, moisture (think mold), and air quality.
Who does the assessment and what does it cost?
A home energy assessment or audit is performed by an accredited and certified contractor. These contractors meet the certification and accreditation guidelines of the Building Performance Institute (BPI), the industry's resource for building science technology that sets standards for assessing and improving the energy performance of homes.
Home energy assessments can cost $150-400 however, Sustainable Princeton has partnered with Ciel Power LLC, a Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified provider, to provide residential energy assessments at a discounted price of $49.
Is my home a good candidate for a home energy audit?
Older construction homes usually have the most to benefit from the improvements recommended in a home energy assessment.
How long does it take?
The audit takes about 2-4 hours depending on the size of your home. You should also plan for an hour follow up meeting approximately a week after the assessment with the contractor to go over the results. You will receive a report listing recommended measures, along with financial incentives available to pay for the work.
What areas of my home will they be checking?
The technician will inspect your home from top to bottom. They will need access to the main living areas of your home, attic, basement, your heating and cooling system and the outside perimeter of the house.
- Check out our Home Energy Resources page - lots of useful links, and a fun video clip, too!
- Come to our June 10th EnergySmart Homes panel at Princeton Public Library, 7:00 p.m.
- Say hello at our other events, or contact us via email or phone.