Green Living 

Today, green is more than just a corporate buzzword. To many, it is a new way of thinking and living, and this environmentally forward movement has even affected the housing market. Green houses and green building are sprouting up across the nation and capturing America’s imagination in the process.

For those who cannot afford a new, eco-friendly house, here is a list of renovations to make your current home as green as it can be.



  • Increase your home’s energy efficiency. Replacing old windows and doors with new, energy-efficient models is a great way to help out the environment and save on utility costs.
  • Consider the placement of appliances. Refrigerators blasted by the sun’s rays or subjected to heat from an adjacent oven or heating vent have to work harder to chill your food. If possible, relocate the fridge to a cooler spot, or close window coverings to keep the sun off.
  • Remove window units during cold months or insulate them with tight-fitting A/C covers. In the winter, room air conditioners installed in windows can be a source of cold drafts.
  • Install motion sensors, photocell controls or timers so outdoor lights are only on when needed. Reduce light pollution and keep the night sky darker by using light fixtures that direct light downward instead of toward the sky.
  • Replace your lights. Compact fluorescent lights use up to 75 percent less energy than their incandescent counterparts.
  • Add dimmer switches if you have incandescent light fixtures where you can’t or don’t want to use compact fluorescent bulbs. Dimming shaves a bit off an incandescent bulb’s energy use and makes the bulb last longer.
  • Buy low-VOC or no-VOC paints and breathe easier. Volatile organic compounds, like those found in many paints, can cause pollution within the house.
  • To stop drafts and air leaks, install weatherstripping around doors and caulk cracks around windows. Check the heating and cooling systems’ ducts to make sure all joints are connected and well-sealed.
  • Make sure the door between the garage and house seals tightly, and caulk or seal any cracks or openings between the garage and house. If your garage is attached to the house, fumes from car exhaust and stored chemicals can enter living spaces through gaps around doors or cracks in the ceilings and wall.
  • Reduce energy bills by as much as $150 a year with a programmable thermostat that adjusts the temperature when you leave the house or go to sleep.
  • Choose salvaged, secondhand or antique furnishings, doors, trim, fixtures and other items.
  • Brighten up dark hallways, bathrooms and other spaces with tubular skylights. They let in daylight without the excess heat.
  • Check out great bamboo alternatives for floors, cabinets, built- ins and furniture. Plants like bamboo that can be harvested and grown again within a short time ease demand for slower-growing trees and nonrenewable resources like petroleum.
  • Choose Energy Star-qualified appliances that use 10 percent to 50 percent less energy and water.
  • Consider a green roof, which is typically planted with native grasses, wildflowers or other climate-appropriate groundcovers. Green roofs slow the flow of storm water off the roof, keep surrounding outside air temperatures cooler, insulate the home from noise, heat and cold and may even extend the roof’s life.
  • Add solar electric or water-heating systems. A solar electric system can offset some or all of your home’s electricity use, while solar water-heating systems can heat water for sinks, showers, laundry, home heating, pools and spas.
  • Choose carpeting, rugs, window treatments and other textiles made from natural fibers, such as cotton or wool, which are untreated and free of toxins, such as pesticides or chemical cleaners.
  • Use a front-load washer, which will cut your water-related energy use by more than half over a top-load washer. You only need about 10 to 20 gallons of water to do a full load, while a top-load washer would have required about 40 gallons.