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Eager to choose environmentally friendly fixtures, appliances, and decor? We’ve got a few ideas to get you started.
Skip: Standard air vents
Choose: Smart vents
Because: The new(ish) technology helps control the temperature in each room of your house: Automated air registers open and close to allow airflow to specific areas based on your pre-programmed preferences—so you’re not overheating or overcooling your whole home just to enjoy a space or two comfortably. Popular brands include Flair, Keen, and Ecovent.
Skip: Traditional faucets and showerheads
Choose: WaterSense bath fixtures
Because: This EPA-sponsored program identifies products that use at least 20 percent less water than standard fixtures and work just as well.
Skip: Energy-guzzling appliances
Choose: Energy Star–certified versions
Because: The gold standard for measuring energy-efficiency, the Energy Star label identifies products that can save you money and go easy on the environment. For example, an Energy Star–certified washing machine uses 25 percent less energy and 33 percent less water than standard models.
Skip: Typical draperies
Choose: Energy-saving window coverings
Because: In the winter, up to 30 percent of your home’s heat is lost through windows, and in the warmer months, about three-quarters of the sunlight that penetrates windows becomes heat. Control indoor temps and reduce wasted energy with cellular shades or automated window coverings. You’ll save money on heating and cooling costs—and maybe even get some cash back from Xcel, which offers a rebate to homeowners who make a qualified purchase of cellular shades.
Skip: Stinky, toxin-laden paint
Choose: Eco-friendly, no-VOC options
Because: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) contain a variety of chemicals, some of which can have adverse effects on the health of humans and animals. Paints and lacquers (along with a lot of other manufactured products, such as furniture and cleaning materials) emit VOCs, which diminish air quality. Given how many eco-friendly paint options exist—such as Ecos Paint, Benjamin Moore’s Eco Spec, Sherwin-Williams’ Harmony, and AFM Safecoat Zero VOC—there’s no reason not to choose one that has a low- or zero-VOC rating.
Skip: A gas range
Choose: Induction cooking
Because: Induction ovens and cooktops use electromagnetic energy to heat cookware directly, skipping the step of warming a burner or oven—which saves time and (literal) energy. Between 80 and 90 percent of the energy goes directly to cooking the food—as opposed to about 40 percent of the energy generated by a gas range. You’ll pay more for an induction range initially, but your operating cost will be lower (and you can boil water in a fraction of the time!).