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current air quality in Wisconsin.
Summer in Madison

Summer in Madison.

Contact information
For more information, contact:
Craig Czarnecki
Public information specialist
Air Program

Summer: Do a little, save a lot!

Welcome summer! As you go for a swim in one of Wisconsin's lakes, cookout in the backyard or go on a long summer bike ride, think about how air quality remains an important part of your everyday life.

Just because it's hot outside doesn't mean that you should ignore ways that you can save energy.


Things kids can do

Hey kids! There are lots of things YOU can do to help reduce air pollution this summer. To find out some ways you can help, check out the EEK! website [exit DNR].

On vacation

On vacation

Wisconsin offers some excellent places to visit for your summer vacation. One of the best ways to reduce air pollution is by traveling locally. Rather than booking that expensive trip to Europe, consider visiting a scenic local state park or attractions that Wisconsin has to offer.

Crawling Stone Lake, Lac du Flambeau
Crawling Stone Lake, Lac du Flambeau.

  • Explore your metropolitan area. If you live in a city, chances are that there are places you haven’t been before or haven’t seen for a long time. Take a trip to your city’s zoo, art museums, children's museums, botanical gardens, neighborhood parks and city nature trails.
  • Stay Locally. Maybe there's a nice Bed and Breakfast in a nearby town. Find out the locations of environmentally friendly hotels in your area [exit DNR].
  • If you do travel somewhere far, pick an environmentally efficient way of getting there. Planes are the highest polluters and emit thousands of tons of carbon dioxide when you travel. Trains and busses, on the other hand, emit far less air pollution.
  • Reduce your waste when you travel. Pack a lunch with reusable lunch bags instead of stopping at a restaurant or eating fast food with all that disposable packaging.

"Green" lawns

Practice "green" lawn care

Man mowing lawn
Mow your lawn early or late in the day, if possible.

Keep in mind the following energy and emission saving tips as you care for your lawn.

  • Replace gas-powered equipment such as mowers and leaf blowers with electric, rechargeable, or manual equipment.
  • If you are using gas-powered equipment, fill and use it in the evening hours, and buy a spill-proof, low-emitting gas can.
  • Keep mower blades sharp and undersides clean - Your lawn will look better and your mower will be more efficient.
  • Use lawn clippings as mulch for your garden. It will help you save on clipping disposal and buying mulch.
  • Don't burn leaves or trash. Compost or recycle instead.
  • If you must water your lawn, do it in the evening or early morning. Mid-day the water will evaporate faster, preventing grass roots from soaking up the water necessary for growth. To stay green, established lawns need about one inch of water per week in total, split over two or three applications. You may want to purchase or make a water gauge to measure the amount of water (including rain) that falls on your lawn each week to help you avoid wasting water.
  • Gas can
    Buy a spill-proof, low-emitting gas can.

    Set up barrels to collect rainwater for the lawn or garden. Using rain barrels will not only reduce the amount of water, energy, and cash (for water pumping and/or treatment) that you spend on your lawn, it will also decrease the amount of stormwater runoff polluting our streams and lakes.
  • Mow less. Ask your local nursery for slow-growing, drought resistant grass and seed mixtures.


Cookouts and potlucks

A greener cookout.

Consider eco-friendly ways to enjoy hosting a party.

  • Use reusable cookware, utensils, and plates. Substitute cloth napkins in place of paper ones. This helps keep garbage out of the landfill.
  • Find local and organic food to cook.
  • If you use charcoal while grilling, find charcoal that is harvested from sustainable forests and is free of additives like coal dust.
  • Lighter fluid is not so friendly to air quality and the environment. When combined with charcoal, it can release carbon monoxide, particulate matter and soot, not to mention VOCs. Use an electric or chimney charcoal starter to light your charcoal to limit the amount of air pollution.
  • Many die-hard grill enthusiasts believe charcoal is the only way too grill, however keep in mind that gas and electric grills are less harmful to the environment and air quality than charcoal grills.
  • Provide vegetarian options for your guests.

You'll enjoy the summer even more when you know you're doing your part to be environmentally savvy and improving air quality for everyone.

On your boat

On your boat

Try some of these energy saving and eco-friendly boating tips this summer.

Person paddling a kayak on a glistening lake
Kayaking is an eco-friendly way to enjoy Wisconsin's waters.

  • Consider eco-friendly ways to enjoy being out on the water. Kayaking, canoeing, sailing or sail boarding are just a few options.
  • Don't overfill the gas tank. Fuel expands as it warms in the tank and excess fuel will escape through the vent line. Big waves may also cause boats' overfilled gas tanks to leak into the water and air. When filling an inboard fuel tank, use your hand to check for air escaping from the vent. When the tank is nearly full, you'll feel a distinct increase in air flow. That is the signal to stop filling. Don't trust the automatic shutoff on the gas nozzle; the fuel filling nozzle should be attended at all times.
  • Recycle fluids. Ask your local marina if they recycle engine oil and antifreeze. Remember oil filters and batteries are recyclable too.
  • Buying a new motor? Consider a four-stroke engine instead of the old two-stroke engine. With older engines, an estimated 30 percent of fuel ends up in the water. Newer improved engines greatly reduce the amount of fuel that goes into the water and air emissions. Four-stroke engines are quieter, smoother, easier to start and use.

Also check out Natural Resources Magazine, which has some more eco-friendly boating tips.

Travel wisely

Travel wisely

Woman on a bike.

Summer is a great time to get outdoors after a long winter. Perhaps you can consider biking when you commute to work or run errands around town. Below are some other suggestions on ways to improve air quality:

  • Ride your bike or walk instead of driving. It's a great way to travel and it can help you and the air get in shape. Vehicles on the road create more than 25 percent of all air pollution nationwide and are a huge source of global climate change emissions.
  • Combine errands into one trip. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multi-purpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. You will also avoid retracing your route and reduce the distance you travel, not only saving fuel but also wear and tear on your car. Your budget will thank you!
  • When driving, anticipate stops and slow down gradually. It takes 20 percent less gas to accelerate from 5 mph than from a full stop.
  • Get rid of the junk in your trunk! The weight of that extra cargo makes engines work harder, burning more gas, releasing more emissions. You get 4 percent less gas mileage for every 100 pounds of excess weight carried in your car. That can cost you about a dollar every time you fill up your gas tank.

Learn some eco-driving tips in the video below.

Save energy at home

Save energy at home

Save energy at home
Save energy at home.

  • Conserve energy by turning off lights when you leave a room and turning off computers and televisions when not in use.
  • Purchace energy efficient lighting or use natural lighting whenever possible.
  • Find apliances for your home that include the Energy Star [exit DNR] label.
  • Install windows that are energy efficient.
  • Buy green power, energy made by using renewable energy such as wind, solar, geothermal or hydropower.
  • Make sure there's plenty of natural ventilation to cool your house as the weather warms up. You may want to open windows at night for the naturally cooler air and close them during the day to keep the cool air inside.
  • Control the moisure entering your house by providing suffient landscaping drainage and gutters. A dehumidifier may help make the climate of your house feel cooler.
  • Use window shades to keep sunlight from warming the house too much during the day.
  • Provide landscaping to create a microclimate around your house. Trees and shrubs can increase shade or provide a windbreak.

For more information about conserving energy at home and reducing your carbon footprint, Focus on Energy [exit DNR] is a helpful place to look.


This video shows you some ways to save energy around the house.

Last revised: Wednesday December 19 2018