A green home is created with energy-efficient processes, along with reclaimed and recyclable materials. It is planned with energy and water consumption in mind. Utilities may be run by wind power, make use of solar panels or have energy-efficient windows. All appliances in the home should be water- and energy-efficient. A rainwater system is a must, along with other elements such as low-water landscaping, reclaimed furniture and sustainable bedding.
Dollar signs are probably popping up before your eyes right now. And you're partly right -- the upfront cost of green housing doesn't necessarily come cheap. However, you have to think about the big picture. In the long run, the amount of money you save on energy costs will outweigh your expenditures.
Save big on your energy costs with a programmable thermostat. In the winter, set it to lower temperatures during the day when no one is home and at night when everyone is sleeping -- you can easily save up to 25 percent on your heating bill. If you get cold at night, just add another blanket to your bed. In the summertime, turn up the thermostat a few degrees and set the air conditioner to come on 15 to 30 minutes before you come home from work, rather than running all day long in an empty house.
Most people know about Energy Star dishwashers, clothes washers and refrigerators, but many other household items can bear the Energy Star label too.
Energy Star-qualified televisions use about 40 percent less energy than traditional units, while Energy Star heat pump water heaters can save the average household almost $300 per year in comparison to a standard electric water heater.
Check out all the Energy Star products available and start adding up your potential annual savings on your utility bills.
Read our guide to buying eco-friendly appliances >>
Buy a filter to attach to your water faucet, rather than buying bottled water. More than 38 billion plastic water bottles end up in landfills each year. Purchase a single stainless steel water bottle for drinking on the go to save money and reduce waste. And before you throw anything away, try to recycle or repurpose items to help waste reduction.
Follow these tips to teach your man to recycle >>
Thrift stores and consignment shops are fabulous places to get deals on gently used clothing, furniture and much more. But you aren't just saving money when you buy used goods -- you're also reducing energy consumption that would be used to manufacture and transport new items.
Craigslist and eBay offer terrific bargains as well. Also try The Freecycle Network, where people are giving (and getting) free stuff in their local area. By swapping and reusing goods, it keeps it out of the landfills and promotes waste reduction.
Fiskars rain barrels are easy to install and can help lower your environmental footprint.
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