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Tasty Pumpkin Seed Treats from Your Scary Jack-O-Lantern

At First Choice Power, we love seeing a good jack-o-lantern carving, but things can get really messy during the preparation part. That’s why we’re bringing you a great Halloween recipe to eliminate the waste from your carved pumpkin!

First, we’ll show you how to remove and prep your pumpkin seeds.

  • Cover your work area with old newspapers. (It’s about to get messy!)
  • Cut off the top of your pumpkin in a circle about 3 inches from the stalk. Be very careful during this step, as you’ll need to use a sharp knife.
  • Remove all of the seeds from inside your pumpkin and place them in a colander. Don’t forget to check for seeds under the lid!
  • Rinse the seeds in the colander to remove all of the stringy pulp.
  • Lay them flat and dry them thoroughly with a towel.

Now, we’ll give you a delicious pumpkin seeds recipe for spiced toasted pumpkin seeds from Real Simple!

Ingredients

  • Seeds from 2 medium pumpkins
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 300° F.
  2. Remove the seeds from the pumpkins. Discard the pulp.
  3. Spread the seeds (no need to rinse them) evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until dried, about 1 hour.
  4. Toss the seeds, olive oil, celery salt, and cumin in a large skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat, until the seeds are lightly toasted, about 3 minutes.

What’s your favorite pumpkin seed recipe? Share with us in the comments!

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Green Your Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, and if you haven’t carved a pumpkin, picked out a costume, or bought candy to hand out, don’t worry! You’ve still got time to get your supplies and decorations together, and we’re here to help. Check out our green tips below for making this Halloween greener.

  1. Opt for organic Halloween candy. This doesn’t mean sacrificing the chocolaty, sugary goodness of Halloween. Check out NaturalCandyStore.com for fun and tasty organic Halloween candy.
  2. Green transportation/Walk the neighborhood. Instead of piling in the car to go from neighborhood to neighborhood in search of the best candy and the scariest decorations, opt for green transportation by getting a group together and walk or ride your bike to trick or treat.
  3. Get creative with your costume. Swap costumes with a friend or build a costume from items in your own closet. Here are some DIY Halloween costumes for kids.
  4. Support a cause. When you carve your pumpkin, take the opportunity to bring awareness for a cause close to your heart. Here’s a stencil for a breast cancer awareness ribbon. The World Wildlife Fund has stencils for endangered animals.
  5. Save the seeds. After carving a pumpkin, toast the seeds for a delicious snack! Here are a few recipes.

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What will you be doing to celebrate this Halloween? Share your ideas with us on our Facebook wall.

Reduce Your Utility Bills by Teaching Your Children to Save Energy

Have you been making extra efforts at home to go green or conserve energy in an attempt to lower your utility bills? Encouraging your family to make big lifestyle changes can be overwhelming at first, especially when people aren’t used to thinking about ways to conserve energy.

However, instead of focusing upon the adults – since they have deeper-set habits that are harder to break – we recommend teaching your children to save energy so that you can reduce how much energy your home uses each month. When the kids get home from school each day, don’t let the learning end! Teach your children about energy conservation and saving energy, because when they adopt these habits young, they are more likely to continue them as adults.

  • Start them off with simple things like turning off the lights when leaving a room.
  • Next, introduce the idea of turning off electronics when they aren’t in use.
  • Finally, encourage them to conserve water in the kitchen and bathroom by turning the water off when washing hands or brushing teeth.

Feeling overwhelmed? Not to worry. We’ve got a few great resources for you to teach your kids ways to conserve energy!

How do your kids help you save energy around the house? Share with us in the comments!

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Small Appliances can Equal BIG Energy Savings!

We have appliances in almost every room of the house. Dishwashers, ovens, hair dryers, and toasters make life a little easier, but when you consider how often these appliances are used and how much energy they use, it can really add up! When possible, consider switching to small appliances for bigger energy savings. Here are few small appliances that make the kitchen more energy efficient.

Energy Efficient Toaster Oven – Toaster ovens are perfect for cooking fun items like frozen pizzas! According to Energy Star, heating up a toaster oven can reduce the heat you use up to 50 percent compared to a conventional oven.

Slow Cooker – The slow cooker (a.k.a. the crockpot) is all the rage right now! Entire blogs are dedicated to providing the gourmet-quality meals from a slow cooker. Cook dinner in one of these and feel confident that you are making one energy-efficient, eco-friendly meal. And with a one-pot dinner, you’re also making less mess, which means fewer spins of the dishwasher.

Electric Skillet – For Sunday morning pancakes, use an electric skillet instead of turning on the stove. It’s just the right size to flip a few short stacks for the whole family in no time!

What are some of your favorite small, energy-saving appliances?

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Natural Light – Why it’s better!

Did you know the fluorescent and artificial lights in your home, office, or favorite hangout could be making you tired? It’s true. Over-illumination has been related to a host of health problems including headaches, eyestrain, increased stress, and anxiety.

In offices and schools, increased productivity has been directly attributed to the use of natural light over artificial light. Interior designers are increasingly incorporating natural lighting into their designs through large windows, strategic window placement, bay windows, and skylights.

In addition to helping your productivity and health, the use of natural sunlight can also help you reduce your electricity usage and energy bill. Next time you’re at home during the day, consider pulling back the curtains and opening the blinds to let in natural light instead of flipping the light switch. This can lower your energy consumption and save you money on your electricity bill!

Besides, do any of us like the buzz and annoying glare of fluorescent lighting? Of course not – we should always look for ways to integrate natural light into your home or workplace. Do you have any ideas that have worked well in your life? Please share them in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

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Create a Green Tailgating Experience this Football Season

Fall is officially here! Sunday, Sept. 22 marked the first day of autumn. And at First Choice Power, we love fall, because that means football season is in full swing! We love everything about the sport, especially the tailgating! What are you hoping for your team this year?

No matter how your team is playing, we’ve got tailgating supplies and tips to make a winning tailgate that also happens to be green.

  1. Biodegradable Products – Disposable plates, cups and utensils are king at most tailgate parties. But, disposable goods mean lots and lots of waste at the end of the day. While it’s not feasible to bring your grandmother’s heirloom China to a tailgate, think about supplying your guests with eco-friendly dinnerware such as recyclable cups or compostable plates like these from Bare by Solo.
  2. Tailgate Grill – Consider using a portable propane grill on game day. Propane has a significantly smaller carbon footprint to ensure you have a green barbecue. (Our apologies to all of the charcoal grill masters out there.)
  3. Local Food – Shop local for fresh meat, produce, buns, and your other supplies as you plan to serve at your tailgate!
  4. Green Transportation – Carpool to your party location. Get the gang together before the party and head over together. Depending on your proximity, consider walking, biking, or taking public transportation.

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What’s your favorite part of tailgating? Share with us below!

Lose the Dryer and Go Old-School with a Clothesline

When you think of a clothesline, most of us think of our grandmother, Little House on the Prairie, or simply a time past before the modern convenience of a dryer. However, if you’re looking to ways to conserve energy and save money, going old-school by hanging your clothes on a clothesline should be your go-to option! Since many people are looking to reduce energy consumption, line-drying your clothes will not only save electricity and reduce your electric bill, it can actually make your clothes last longer.

Not convinced? Checks out these five reasons why using a clothesline should be your best option for conserving energy and saving money on electricity in regards to your laundry:

  1. Nixing your dryer and opting for a clothesline could save you more than $100 per year in electric or gas.
  2. Line-drying reduces energy consumption and protects the environment.
  3. Dryers can be harmful to your clothing. Clotheslines are much gentler on your clothing’s fibers.
  4. If weather permits you to hang your clothes outside, the direct sunlight can help your whites become their brightest, as it naturally bleaches and disinfects your laundry.
  5. If you hang your clothes inside, indoor racks can help humidify dry air.

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Can you give us any other ideas why opting to go old-school with a clothesline might be a good idea for your electricity bill and the environment?

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#Eco-Monday: Using Power Strips to Save Energy

Happy Monday y’all! We hope you had a great weekend!

Let’s start the week with a question — do you use power strips or surge protectors? If you answered no, we at First Choice Power think you should give power strips a try. Why? Thanks to technology, today’s energy saving power strips can help you seriously cut down on the amount of energy you’re consuming each day. Check out our list of these energy saving, smart power strip wonders:

  • Time is on your side. These timer power strips come equipped with timers so you can run your electronics for certain periods of time.
  • Feels your every move. This motion sensor power option has outlets that are controlled by a motion detector, allowing plugged in devices to automatically turn on or off in response to your physical presence, or after a user-defined period of time elapses.
  • They have smart currents. These power sensing power strips can automatically turn several outlets on or off when they detect that a computer monitor goes into sleep mode, is turned off, or is turned on.

Have we convinced you to give smart power strips and surge protectors a try? We think you should… they’re great for both the environment and your pocketbook!

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Back-to-School Carpooling

Happy Wednesday, everyone! How was the first week back to school? Is your family back in the swing of things?

We want to help you go back to school and save money. And help the environment while you’re at it. Carpooling and other alternative transportations can really save you money at the gas pump, keep your car from getting high miles or wear and tear prematurely, and cut carbon emissions in the environment.

How do your kids typically get to school? Do you drop them off in the morning and pick them up after school? There are several alternatives to this mode of transportation.

  1. Consider mapping a safe route to school and having your kids and other students in the neighborhood walk or ride bikes to school. This is a great form of exercise, too! An adult can accompany the group.
  2. Does your child’s school provide bus transportation to and from school? Contact your school district to find out the nearest school bus stop and route schedule.
  3. Consider teaming up with other parents on your street or in your neighborhood to carpool to school. Each parent can rotate doing drop off or pick.

And carpooling isn’t reserved just for school! Talk to your coworkers to see if you can set up a carpool to work. Aside from the saving money, saving gas, keeping a lower car mileage, and less wear and tear on your car, you’ll also be able to utilize the high-occupancy lanes to save time! And who doesn’t need more of that?!

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#Eco-Monday: Using cold water to wash clothes

Happy Monday, y’all! We hope you had a great weekend! Last week we talked about energy efficiency and energy conservation tips in the kitchen. Did you opt to use the microwave instead of the oven this weekend? This week, we’re talking about energy saving ideas in your laundry room.

Did you know that 90 percent of the energy used when washing your clothes is spent heating the water? Ninety percent!

Hot water is known to get your clothes cleaner because the high temperature is able to kill germs and bacteria. Some detergents are made especially for washing in cold water and energy efficient washing machines. By using this kind of detergent, you are able to get your clothes just as clean as you could when using hot water, but you’ll be a lot more energy efficient on each load!

So what’s your take on the hot versus cold battle? How do you wash your clothes?

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