Home Eco-nomics

Three new books offer fresh tips on becoming a clean, green, and energy-lean homeowner



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Photograph by Scott Breithaupt

True Green Home: 100 Inspirational Ideas for Creating a Green Environment at Home, by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin (National Geographic Society, $19.95), offers practical tips for shrinking your carbon footprint. Some examples:

  • High-quality, durable kitchen utensils are less likely to end up in landfills after a short life of culinary service.
  • Toasters and other small appliances should be energy efficient.
  • Forgo chemical bathroom cleaners in favor of baking soda, vinegar, and other natural products.
  • Instead of painting, consider covering the walls with natural-fiber wallpapers made from bamboo, sisal, or straw.
  • In your home office, strive to be as paperless as possible.
  • Clean Home, Green Home: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Eco-Friendly Homekeeping, by Kimberly Delaney (Morris Book Publishing, $19.95), offers chemical-free cleaning advice. Some tips:
  • Reduce the need to clean by stopping dirt at the door. Leave shoes at the threshold. Keep a basket by the door filled with inexpensive, washable, and comfortable slippers. Also, place a shoe scraper on the porch.
  • Consider using pure castile soap, which is made only from vegetable, not animal fat. It can be used as an all-purpose cleaner for laundry and scrubbing bathtubs.

Energy-saving tips:

Install compact fluorescent Lights (CFLs). They outlast regular bulbs by eight to 10 times, burn cooler, and use 60- to 70-percent less electricity.
Set your computer to “sleep” or “standby” mode when not in use. On desktop models, turning off the screen saver can save $100 a year.

  • When buying a refrigerator, look for an Energy Star. Avoid energy-wasting ice and water door dispensers.
  • Clean the coils at the bottom of your refrigerator every two months.
  • Buy a front-loading clothes washer. They use less energy than top loaders.
  • Check for gaps between window trim and the inside walls, and where the baseboard meets the floor and outside wall. They can let warm air out in winter and hot air in during summer. Seal them with acrylic caulk.
  • If water flows out of the tub faucet when you’re using the shower, the diverter likely needs replacing.

Source: Cut Your Energy Bills Now: 150 Smart Ways to Save Money & Make Your Home More Comfortable & Green, by Bruce Harley ($12.95, The Taunton Press).

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