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August 28th, 2008 12:25 PM
There’s a movement underway to lessen the impact that homes have on the environment, and both new and existing homeowners alike are doing their part by taking simple steps in the right direction.
If you’re not sure how to join in, here are six ways to make your own home a little greener right now:

Switch to CFLs Go through your home and find all of the light bulbs that you picked up at the grocery store and replace them with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which not only last longer, but also reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions coming out of your home and into the environment. A CFL bulb uses 75 percent less energy than a standard incandescent bulb, generates 450 fewer pounds of greenhouse gases from power plants and lasts 10 times longer than its incandescent cousin.
Learn more about CFL usage online at: http://www. energystar. gov/index. cfm?c=cfls. pr_cfls

Use ENERGY STAR® When it comes time to replace or upgrade that refrigerator or washer, select only ENERGY STAR® qualified products, which cost 10 to 30 percent less in operating costs to run. Using energy efficient products and practices, the ENERGY STAR® program saved enough energy last year to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 25 million cars — all while saving $14 billion on utility bills. More than 50 types of products can earn the ENERGY STAR®, including appliances, lighting, home electronics and home office equipment.
Find out which appliances qualify at www. energystar. gov.
Avoid VOC-Based Paints Volatile Organic Compounds or “VOCs” have been a key component of the composition of oil-based paint, and can also be found in traditional latex based paints. Exposure to VOC's in paint can trigger asthma attacks, eye irritation and respiratory problems, nausea and dizziness, among other symptoms. Prolonged exposure has been linked to kidney and liver disease and even cancer. The good news is that alternatives are available, and are endorsed by the “Green Seal®” certification (based on VOC content, the absence of chemicals, durability and performance among other criteria). These alternatives include low-odor or low-VOC paint, zero-VOC paint and non-toxic or natural paint.
Find out more about your healthier options at: http://eartheasy. com/live_nontoxic_paints. htm

Harvest Rainwater Did you know that every inch of rain translates into nearly 600 gallons of water for every 1,000 square feet of roof? Environmentally-conscious homeowners are tapping this natural resource and reducing reliance on other water sources by using rainwater harvesting systems that are installed on a home’s roof, which serves as the catchment area. Gutters act as the conveyance system, while cisterns hold the water and are complemented by a pump-based delivery system and a filter- and/or purifier-based treatment setup. Such systems can be added to existing roofs, or installed on new homes, and used to minimize the 100 to 250 gallons of water that the typical American pulls from their municipal systems or private wells.
Check out the Rainwater Harvesting Community for more information: http://www. harvesth2o. com/ Be Water Efficient Kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms are all hotbeds for excessive water usage. Cut the waste by installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, both of which help save resources without sacrificing water pressure. Use front-end loading washing machines, which not only save water but also treat your clothing better because they lack a middle “spinner” that thrashes the garments around. Finally, consider installing dual-flush commodes, which use a variable amount of water, depending on how much is needed. See the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site for more information on water efficiency: http://epa. gov/watersense/ Tune up Your Home Lessen your home’s impact on the environment by tuning it up in a few key areas: the HVAC system, windows and doors, and insulation. A professional HVAC checkup costs about $100 and can save you 5 to 10 percent on heating and cooling bills, while also cutting down on the carbon dioxide emissions coming out of your home. Don’t forget to clean or replace your filters monthly. Upgrade your windows and doors with energy-efficient models, improve their efficiency by replacing old weatherstripping, and make sure your home’s walls and attic are well insulated. If they are not, enlist a contractor who will use a “blown-in” insulation technique to fill in any voids that may be causing hot or cool air to escape.
The California Energy Center provides more great ideas for homeowners at www. consumerenergycenter. org.

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Posted by Bryon O'Reilly on August 28th, 2008 12:25 PMLeave a Comment

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