Cheat sheet for living green

  1. Install a water-saver faucet adapter to start flow quickly with the back of your hand and shut off flow when you release. It costs about $17.
    Savings: 2.2 gallons per minute

  2. Displace water in your toilet tank with a 2-liter plastic soda bottle, weighted with coins or pebbles. Toilets use more water than washing machines or showers and it's free!
    Savings: 0.5 gallon per flush

  3. Slow flow with the Ladybug shower adapter (evolveshowerheads. com). At 95°, the volume slows to prevent warm water waste. Just pull the cord when you're ready to rinse. It costs about $30.
    Savings: 2.5+ gallons per minute

  4. Wrap your water heater with insulation to reduce heat loss. It costs about $20 for insulation from your local home improvement store.
    Savings: Reduce your home energy use by 9 percent -- about $7.20 per month

  5. Install a programmable thermostat so that your heating/cooling system runs only when you need it. It costs about $36 and it's available at your local home improvement store
    Savings: Reduce home energy use by up to 33 percent -- about $26.40 per month

  6. Get a removable Chimney Balloon damper to keep cold air out when the fireplace isn't in use. A chimney accounts for at least 14 percent of home heat loss. (just think, it's like leaving a door open) It costs about $40
    Savings: Reduce home energy use by at least 7 percent -- about $5.60 per month

  7. Line-dry your clothes (the dryer is an energy hog). It's not as easy as when Grandma did it though, because many homeowners' associations ban clotheslines. Go to Project Laundry List to learn more.

  8. Flex your muscles in the garden: Use a broom instead of a blower, a watering can instead of a sprinkler and a push mower instead of a gas one.

  9. Keep a gallon-size bucket showerside and use your warm-up water to nourish your veggie patch.

  10. Learn to compost: Kitchen composting is one of the easiest ways to lessen landfill. Try the sinkside compost pail from Williams-Sonoma. Get tips at howtocompost.org

  11. Save money and packaging: Grow herbs at home with Potting Shed Creations herb kit.

  12. Install foam light-switch and outlet sealers. They insulate to prevent heating and cooling loss and it costs about 33 cents each.
    Savings: Reduce home energy use by 2 percent -- about $1.60 per month

  13. Cut down on phantom loads (energy use by electronics that are plugged in but not powered up) with a Belkin conserve energy-saving surge protector. It lets you truly shut off all appliances plugged into it. The investment is $50 each savings reduce home energy use by 20 percent about $16 per month if used throughout the home.

  14. If you're traveling less than a mile, walk or bike instead of driving. This will save you time (think traffic, parking) and the planet from car exhaust.
You're off the hook -- 5 things you have our permission not to worry about:
  1. If it ain't broke, don't replace it: A perfectly good kitchen cabinet shouldn't be trashed in favor of a new eco-friendlier version. Remember, manufacturing any new material consumers energy.

  2. Rest easy knowing your time-saving dishwasher also saves natural resources: Hand-washing can use up to six times the water and twice the energy of an Energy Star dishwasher. Go further, skip the dry cycle.

  3. Don't worry about buying a hybrid car right now: If your oldie but goodie vehicle gets at least 25 miles per gallon on the highway, keep it. More energy and resources are used to produce a new hybrid car than to maintain a conventional one.

  4. Skip buying organic for any fruit with a thick peel: Avocados, pineapples, and watermelons are all good bets. Visit foodnews.org for a full shoppers guide.

  5. Don't plunk down money for solar panels just yet: More immediate energy savings can come from improving insulation and window and door sealing.
>> Sunset Magazine's green home resources

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Sunset is the premier resource for achieving the ultimate Western lifestyle. Our experts focus on travel destinations in the 13 Western states, home design and outdoor living ideas suited to our region, and recipes and menus that celebrate the West.

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