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Casa Verde: 21 Eco-Friendly Home Improvements

I'm always looking for new ways to make my home greener, so thanks to Tdamji for pointing me to this list of 21 eco-friendly home improvements. (By the way, if you haven't checked out Tdamji's Minimal Harm — For the Love of the Planet group, I highly recommend it.)

This 21-green salute will help your conscience and your pocketbook, saving money and increasing your home's value. How many of these tactics do you use in your home? Tell me in the comments section below, or share some of your own ideas.

  1. Consider installing solar panels. If you decide to buy some, consider used ones, as they are quite a bargain and even after as long as twenty years have been known to produce a good percentage of the power that was generated when they were brand new.
  2. Replace all the standard light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent ones. These energy-smart bulbs use 70 to 75 percent less energy than the incandescent kind and last up to ten times longer!
  3. Roof improvements. Believe it or not, research indicates that roof color and the type of material used can help to lower attic temperatures. Light-colored tile roofs outperform the shingle ones when it comes to decreasing temperatures.
  4. Install a motion detector outside to replace your outdoor lighting. Outdoor lights left on all night waste energy and disturb wildlife.
  5. For the rest of the list,

  6. Don't waste water. Check your home carefully for leaky faucets and get them repaired as quickly as possible. Use cold water when laundering clothes and adjust your clean threshold if you possibly can. Those jeans of yours can probably be worn a few more times than usual before washing them, and can't that towel be dried off at least one more time before throwing it in the hamper?
  7. Install low flow showerheads. They are a worthwhile investment (especially if you live in a rented space, because you can take them with you). They cut down on water usage and save energy costs.
  8. Create a compost pile in your backyard. Mix food wastes with dirt and use a shovel to turn the pile over every week or so to give it some air. Turn throwaways like eggshells, coffee grounds and spoiled vegetables into soil and garbage into something useful.
  9. Install an aluminum-clad storm door. This type of door is energy-efficient and will help to insulate the entryway of your home.
  10. Some considerations when heating and cooling our homes: Invest in a high-efficiency HVAC system that is Energy Star certified and install it in your home. This will greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted. It will also shave your utility bill enough to make you smile reasonably broadly.
  11. Clean out your air conditioner filters or replace them regularly. A dirty filter will hamper the airflow, costing you more to run your system.
  12. Consider investing in and installing an automated thermostat. High-tech thermostats are well worth the cost, and what you spend, you will get back over time in lower energy bills.
  13. Install glass doors for your fireplace. Glass doors are safer than fireplace screens. They also reduce the amount of heat that escapes through the chimney from your home.
  14. Use power strips for your home computers. Even after you turn off your computer, power continues to flow to peripherals like printers and scanners.
  15. Install more fans in your home. Ceiling fans can help reduce your family's dependence on air conditioning during the summer, and they are also helpful in the winter as they can push heat down from the ceiling.
  16. Do an "energy audit" in your home and make a list of what needs to be done to get things up to "green par." Take that list to your online supplier or local hardware store and enlist their help in buying needed supplies.
  17. Insulate your home. Doors and windows are two of the most obvious areas of concern when it comes to home energy conservation. Use weather-stripping.
  18. Seal off unexpected trouble spots. Sometimes the less obvious spots in your home can be a source of energy loss and you will need to be thorough in order to seek out and destroy them! Check out the areas around light switches and electrical outlets.
  19. Live by the code of the 3 Rs; Refuse, Reuse and Recycle. Keep these three things in mind whenever you buy, use or discard anything.
  20. Stop a leak. Organize a "stop a leak day" on which everyone in your family tightens, insulates, replaces, caulks or does whatever else is necessary to make your home as "watertight" as possible.
  21. Add insulation to your hot water heater. Don't forget that the standard water heater found in most homes is on all the time. Adding some extra insulation will save more energy than you would think and knock up to 15 percent off the costs of heating water.
  22. Consider window tinting to reduce the glare of the sun. First of all, it will reduce heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Tinting will also eliminate up to 99 percent of damaging ultraviolet rays and reduce the fading of your fine fabrics and furnishings.
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