Economical green upgrades for your home

| by Teena Hammond
Economical green upgrades for your home

There are simple and economical ways to make green upgrades in nearly any home, allowing families to go green in their homes while saving green on their utility bills.

Low-flow showerheads — Save on both water usage and water heating costs by 50 percent, helping to save up to $300 per year without sacrificing shower time. Best of all, the shower heads are high-pressure to give a more comfortable shower experience.

Programmable thermostats — Install and use a programmable thermostat to keep your house at an optimal temperature. By properly using the setback capabilities, you can save up to $160 per year in energy costs

Ceiling fans — Stay cool and save more by using an energy-efficient ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can save up to $200 per six-month cooling season. Also, don't forget to turn off those fans when leaving rooms for even more savings.

Faucet aerators — An aerator fits onto the end of a faucet and forces water through tiny holes, restricting water flow but making the flow feel stronger. Use it on sinks in any room, or on a showerhead. An aerator can cost as little as $10 and can lower water use by up to 50 percent. Using less water also means less energy to heat the water, resulting in further savings.

Replace old dishwashers — Replace a pre-1994-built dishwasher with a new Energy Star model to save 10 gallons of water per cycle. At one cycle a day, that's 3,650 gallons of water per year. New energy-efficient dishwashers start at around $300.

Weatherstripping — Don't let drafts sneak into your home through gaps in your windows and doors. Weather stripping and caulking can save up to 14 percent on cooling and heating energy costs.

Gaskets for electrical outlets — Insert a small foam gasket inside electrical outlets on exterior walls to reduce air leakage.

Install dimmers — Until recently there weren't many options for dimmers on energy-saving light bulb varieties, but the Lutron Skylark Contour C*L Dimmer offers convenient control for incandescents, halogens, CFLs and LEDs.

Replace older toilets — Older toilets can use up to 3.5 gallons of water for every flush. New efficient toilets use as little as 0.8 gallons per flush. Low-flush toilets start at about $150 each.

Compact florescent light bulbs — Change light bulbs from incandescent to compact florescent (CFLs). CFLs cost $2 to $3 each but can save up to $40 over the course of their lifetime, lasing 10 times longer than incandescent and also using up to 75 percent less energy than normal incandescent bulbs.

Going green can be taken one step at a time, as shown by these tips. Implement one or all of these tips to experience significant savings on monthly energy bills, while doing your part to help the environment by reducing energy use.

Sources: Engage 360; Sloan Ritchie, Cascade Built, Seattle, Wash.

Topics: Appliances, Dishwashers, Going Green, Heating & Cooling, Sinks & Toilets, Windows

Teena Hammond
Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.

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