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Bankrate's 2007 Living Green, Saving Green Guide
Green today
Learn 153 ways to be eco-friendly while saving green.
Green today
153 ways to go green
Home: Long haul
Tips » Long haul $ Factor
Tip 24:
Mind the lawn.
Americans dump an estimated 70 million pounds of fertilizer and pesticides on approximately 40 million acres of lawn each year, using 10 times more chemicals per acre than farms. Few homeowners are willing to ditch their grass altogether, but you can plant more drought- and disease-tolerant grasses, or simply cut fertilizer and chemical use. You'll just have to deal with the occasional brown spots that are part of grass' natural life cycle. To boost the health of your lawn, add clover, as it naturally fertilizes the soil and is drought-tolerant. Let the lawn grow a little longer before cutting it -- longer grass chokes out the sunlight weeds need to grow -- or switch to a natural lawn-care service such as NaturaLawn.
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Natural fertilizers actually cost less, and using fewer chemicals can save you money and reduce the level of pollution in local waterways and around your home.
Tip 25:
Use low or no-VOC paints.
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are potentially toxic gases that leach from paint, paint strippers and other household products. They're a leading cause of indoor air pollution and smog and can cause serious illness in people who are exposed to them for extended periods. Paint can release these chemicals into the air for months after it is applied. Low or no-VOC paints contain significantly lower levels of toxic chemicals and can reduce indoor air pollution. Most major home-improvement stores carry them.
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You'll likely pay a premium for these products, compared to their traditional counterparts, but will be reducing hazards in your storage closets and in your community.
Tip 26:
Know when to replace your appliances.
If your furnace, air conditioner or other major appliances are more than 10 years old, it may make sense to replace them with newer, more efficient models. Americans spend an average of $1,900 on energy every year. Buying newer, Energy Star appliances can save you at least $30 a year.
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For instance, replacing a pre-1994 dishwasher with a new Energy Star model will save you about $30 a year in energy costs. Replacing your pre-1994 washing machine with a new Energy Star model would save you about $110 a year.
Tip 27:
Plant trees.
Planting deciduous trees -- those that lose their leaves in fall -- on the south, east or west sides of your house will lower your heating and cooling bills. The trees will shade the house from the sun in summer, and then let in light to warm the house in winter.
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Well-placed trees can save you $100 to $250 a year in energy costs, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. The cost to plant trees varies by type and size.
Tip 28:
Everyone has at least a few items that they don't really want but can't bear to throw away. Freecycle it. Freecycling is giving something to someone who will use it -- for free -- instead of throwing it in the garbage. (To find or start a local group, visit freecycle.org). It's simple: post a message on your local freecycle group's Web site, decide who will get your item, then arrange a pick up time. Members give and get everything from moving boxes to cabinetry.
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Freecycling costs nothing but time, and keeps usable items out of local landfills.
Tip 29:
Boosting attic insulation gives you the most value for your dollar. Shoot for a rating well above the recommended minimum of R-22. Seven inches of fiberglass or rock wool insulation and 6 inches of cellulose insulation are equal to an R-value of 22. In all but the mildest climates, the agency recommends adding more. While you're at it, insulate your hot water heater. Precut "blankets" are available at home improvement stores and are easy to install on electric heaters.
$ Factor:
Adding insulation can cost up to $1,800, and could reduce your heating and cooling bills by more than $100 a year. Water-tank insulation wraps cost between $10 and $20, reduce heat loss by 25 to 45 percent and will save you about $23 a year. To save even more, turn down the thermostat on your water heater, to between 115 and 120 degrees. This can reduce your water-heating expense by another 3 percent.
Tip 30:
Cover your pool.
Cover your pool when you aren't using it and you'll cut water lost to evaporation by 90 percent, and the cost of replenishing it.
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An average-size pool with average sun and wind exposure loses approximately 1,000 gallons of water per month -- enough to meet the drinking needs of a family of four for nearly a year and a half.
-- Posted: Oct. 4, 2007

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