Reduce your bills and live a greener life by making these small, easy changes at home
When you walk out of a room, leave it dark. Incandescent lights produce a lot of heat; turning them off not only saves money, but it also keeps the temperature down and lets your air conditioner rest.
Keep harmful chemicals off your family’s skin and out of local water sources by using a plant-based laundry detergent like Arm & Hammer’s Essentials line, which also contains baking soda ($3 to $5; at grocery stores).
Look for sheets made from 100 percent organic cotton (grown without pesticides and fertilizer), and by companies whose ecological guidelines are in keeping with those suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov).
Clean with washable microfiber cloths, like those by Starfiber (starfibers.com), instead of disposable dusters. Electrostatic energy traps dirt and dust, and some brands can last more than 500 washings.
Use products like recycled-denim insulation or plywood made from bamboo, which grows quickly. Bettencourt Green Building Supplies (bettencourtwood.com) offers a full range of environment-friendly home-improvement products.
Mix a half cup of white vinegar and a half gallon of water to make a solution you can use on floors, counters and tiles.
Look for light cotton towels in a waffle weave. They are very absorbent, so they require less water to wash and take less time to dry.
Use paints without volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which form damaging ground-level ozone and can be bad for your health.