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Greening Your Home

Greening Your Home

Making your home environmentally friendly doesn't have to be about big things—like solar panels and windmills on your roof. There are small, cheaper ways to green your home.

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Paint It Green

Photo: Home Depot

That odor you smell after painting a room is a result of VOC, volatile organic compounds, which are toxic to the environment. To reduce damage to the environment, Jodi Helmer, author of "The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference," recommends buying low-VOC or no-VOC paint.

There are a variety of brands like Mythic Paint, Benjamin Moore’s Natura brand paint and the Home Depot's green paint, The Freshaire Choice.

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Clean Green

Photo: Clorox

There are a number of cleaning products out there that use less harmful, biodegradable ingredients. Try products from companies like Method, Clorox Green Works, or Seventh Generation.

Laundry detergent has also gotten greener. Dropps is a laundry detergent that is sold in a pouch instead of a plastic bottle, cutting down on waste.

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Smarter Thermostats

Photo: Ecobee

The Smart Thermostat from Ecobee lets users set their thermostat online when they’re away from home. That means if you forget to change the temperature before you leave, you can still do it from work.

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Go Low Flow

Photo: Home Depot

Replace showerheads with low-flow models. To determine if your shower has a low-flow head, Helmer recommends this trick: Put a bucket that has gallon marks in the shower and put the water on. If it takes 20 seconds or less to reach the one-gallon mark, then your showerhead is not low flow. Replacing it can cut about 10% off your water bill.

Low-flow showerheads are available at many home improvement shops. Helmer says to buy one that has a flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute.

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Reach for the Star

Photo: Home Depot

If you’re getting a new appliance, consider getting one with the Energy Star label. “Energy Star appliances are more expensive,” says Helmer, “but the savings are pretty major.”

For example, Energy Star, a joint venture of the US Energy Dept. and Environmental Protection Agency, says refrigerators with that label use at least 20 percent less energy than required by the current federal standards.

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