Reducing your carbon
footprint doesn't require an entire lifestyle overhaul. Start
with a few of these simple swaps and habits and you'll even
slash your energy bills.
Switch to Energy
Star-rated CFL bulbs, like GHRI fave Satco's Mini Spiral S6202;
they use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than
standard bulbs. You'll knock $30 off your electric bill for
each bulb over its lifetime.
2. Plant trees around the house
(on the south and west sides; shading the air-conditioning unit, if
possible) to save up to about $250 a year on cooling and
3. Install dimmer switches in the
dining rooms and three bedrooms to dial down electricity fees about
$37 a year.
4. Since 1992 legislation, all new
must have a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or lower. We
recently looked at the Evolve Roadrunner Showerhead ($40) which can save
a family of 3 up to $75 and 2,700 gallons of water per year.
Wrap an insulation blanket around your water
heater and lower its running cost as much as 9 percent.
6. Run a full dishwasher whenever
possible — it
uses half or less of the water and energy of washing the same
dishes by hand. And don't waste water by rinsing before loading
(today's machines are designed to power off the mess).
7. Invest in a faucet-mounted
water filter for
a low $30, and use refillable bottles like our top-rated GHRI pick,
the Nalgene OTG Everyday 24-ounce bottle. By giving up bottled
water, a family of four can save about $1,250 a
The goal is "reduce, reuse, recycle."
8. Magazines. Roll up a couple of
stick one into each of your calf- or knee-high boots so the
footwear will keep its shape.
9. Empty paper-towel roll.
Flatten,and use it
to sheathe a knife kept in a drawer.
10. Small glass food jars. These
see-through storage vessels for nails, screws, nuts, and
11. Old shower curtain. Stash one
car's trunk to line it when carting potentially messy paints or
picnic and beach gear.
12. Used coffee grounds. Spread
flower beds of acid-craving plants such as azaleas or
13. Plastic tub. Get the
of yogurt, sour cream, or margarine. When done with the tub, rinse
and reuse it as a travel dish for pets or for craft-supply
14. Plastic gallon milk jug. Cut
off top with a
utility knife just above the handle and use as a scoop for kitty
litter, birdseed, etc.
15. Foam packing peanuts. Put some
in the bases
of potted plants to help drainage.
16. Plastic mesh produce bag. Turn
it into a
no-scratch scrubber for a gunky pot or pan. Ball up the bag, scour,
then throw the whole mess away.
Good (Enough) Ways to Go Green
17. Good Way: Switch to a front-loading
from a top loader. In a recent GHRI test of front loaders, they
used less than half the water traditionally used by a top loader
for a full load.
- vs. -
Good Enough: Pocket up to 25 cents for
laundry load you wash in cold water (versus hot). Cold-wash three
loads a week, and save up to $40 a year.
Way: Install a programmable thermostat, which can save an
estimated $150 yearly if preset to cool your home's air or pump
up the heat (such as before you get home from work).
- vs. -
Good Enough: Lower your heater's temp by 2
degrees to potentially lower your bill about $40 a year. In warm
months, set the AC at 78 degrees (at 73 degrees, you'll pay 40
19. Good Way: Upgrade two toilets made before
to low-flow ones, and turn down water costs nearly $200 a year in a
two-bathroom, four-person home.
- vs. -
Good Enough: Not in the budget to replace
toilets? Try Brondell Perfect Flush ($79), which will convert your
toilet into a dual-flush — saving about half the water and $100 per
year per toilet.
20. Good Way: Always look for the
'organic' label on veggies and fruit, which means that they
were produced without the use of synthetic pesticides and
- vs. -
Good Enough: If buying only organic is a
your finances, opt for organic versions of the items known to have
the highest pesticide levels: peaches, apples, and bell
21. Good Way: Open windows and doors or
window or attic fans when the weather permits. Most heating and
cooling systems do not bring fresh air into the house.
- vs. -
Good Enough: Bring home superhero plants.
easy-care greens (English ivy, mums, and peace lilies) naturally
help remove indoor air pollutants like formaldehyde and