Greg Koelker


I was recently reminded that I just skipped over mentioning Earth Day in my journal. I was reminded about it on Mother’s Day while mushroom hunting with Ellen and Bo — we filled our bag with tossed beer cans along the road instead of the fabulous fungi. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it again — take your trash home, our road sides are not dumps.

I get it was 107 in 1934. That said, the recent international report on global climate change says that climate change is real and I think the report is something to take home too or maybe to take to heart — as much as one can anyway. Even if you don’t believe in climate change, you have to believe in your bottom line and you can do things that will help your billfold and the planet at the same time.

Perhaps readers will remember that we went all in almost 10 years ago, installing a geothermal HVAC system. It was expensive, but it beats the daylights out of having to cut cords of firewood and handle it and clean up behind it; experts say geothermal has lower carbon emissions than wood smoke.

Another easier and cheaper thing we have been doing over several years is replacing our conventional lights with LED bulbs. I have put an LED yard light. We put LEDs throughout the house too. It wasn’t free — we replaced most of 50 conventional bulbs with LEDs over time — but I believe it has reduced our electric bill. I put LED shop lights in the shop. They are instant on, super bright, and don’t buzz. Uh oh, a light bulb just went on over my head reminding me that I have yet to change all of the bulbs in the basement.

Other fairly easy things one can do to reduce energy consumption are to unplug computers and printers and TVs and other electronics when not in use; wash clothes in cold or warm (not hot) water, and hang wash whenever you can; install a programmable thermostat, and look for the Energy Star label when buying new appliances.

Consider winterizing your home more. We live in an old farmhouse and it was amazing how much more comfortable a little — OK, a lot — of foam and attic insulation can make it. You can get an energy audit done. Your utility may reimburse you too.

These are just a few, but there are many more ways to reduce carbon use. Reducing your carbon footprint can help improve the environment while saving money on your utility bills, and helping lower energy consumption without sacrificing comfort.

Gift idea: Maybe an energy audit or just replacing conventional bulbs for your parents would be a good Father’s Day gift. Something to think about at least.

Until next time, get out — Ellen and I and Bo will get out mushroom hunting again this week. If nothing else, it’s nice to be in the woods this time of year, birds, flowers and no bugs — and it is amazing to watch my physically challenged but still graceful better-half slowly cross a barbed wire fence — better than me for sure. Oh, does anyone really care if Aaron Rodgers had a cameo on “Game of Thrones” as a soldier? I don’t think he needs the money. Shouldn’t he be practicing fighting Vikings and slaying bears and lions instead of dragons? Enjoy.

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Greg and his wife Ellen Koelker are retired and live on Grouse Hollow Farm near Stoddard. He is chairman of the Vernon County Chapter of Wisconsin Conservation Congress.

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