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Simple changes that can be made that will have a big impact.
They can all be made without a huge impact in cost when upgrading or replacing any of the following.
On average each household member flushes the toilet four or more times daily accounting for more than 20 gal per person. If the toilets in the house were installed before 1994, they account for 40% of the household’s total use of water per Waterinfo.com. Changing to dual flush toilets can reduce the usage as much as 6,000 gallons a year.
Switch to the new eco friendly cold water detergents and Cold/Cold water setting on a Clothes washing machine. Using the Hot /Cold setting uses approximately 1547 kWh/yr and costs $155 in the water heating bill whereas the Cold/Cold setting only uses 103 kWh/yr at a cost of $10.
Assumes 39-gallon model, 380 loads/yr. (7.5 loads/wk.), and water heated electrically at a cost of 10¢/kWh. As reprinted from the Rocky Mountain Institute.
Get a front-loading washer. They use 40-60% less water and 30-50% less energy than typical top-loaders (16 to 24 gallons vs. up to 40 gallons, and 400-560 kWh/yr. vs. 800 kWh/yr .Some states offer tax credits or rebates for the purchase of a front-loading washer. Front-load washers get more of the water out of your clothes, so you'll spend less to dry your clothes as well. Check the Energystar.gov for more info and statistics found on this page.
When replacing a dryer, get one with a moisture sensor - you'll never run the dryer longer than you have to and switch to gas if you can.
Turn the thermostat on the water heater down to the lowest temperature you're comfortable with. When it's set on scalding hot you have to mix in cold water in your shower to lower the temperature; why make your heater boil the water if you don't need it that hot? You can probably do with the temperature set to 120 degrees F or less.
Replace regular light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs. CFL bulbs use almost 2/3 less energy than regular light bulbs and last 10 times longer. They don’t produce anything near the heat generated by regular or halogen lighting and the cost is now a little as regular bulbs. They even make dimmable CFL bulbs. According to the EPA's Personal Greenhouse Gas Calculator the average car emits 13,500# of CO2 in a year. Replacing 17 light bulbs saves more CO2 in their life than taking a car off the road for one year (17x822# per bulb = 13,974# CO2).
The single most expensive household appliance is the air conditioner. With central AC make sure you have a programmable thermostat. It's a myth that leaving the AC on while you're away at work uses less energy than turning it on when you get home. Adding a Solar attic fan can reduce the heat as well by lowering the attic temperature by as much as 10 degrees or more saving up to 10% on AC costs. Ceiling fans will circulate the air more efficiently as well making the house feel even cooler. Choose an Energy Star efficient fan and you will move air 14%-20% more efficiently than typical ceiling fans.
Upgrade to an LCD Monitor on your computer and replace the CRT which can cost as much as $200 a yr. vs. $22 for the LCD.
If you’re still using an older refrigerator it may be time to upgrade. Older models can use as much as 1400 kWh whereas the newer models use around 500 kWh. Check for the Energy Star rating for the actual savings/cost to run.
Moldings - ‘Finger-joint’ primed pine wood trim made from smaller pieces of wood. No MDF (medium density fiberboard) or urea formaldehyde.
all wood approved for low- or no- formaldehyde content
EcoTimber Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo flooring (Woven Amber) is made with a Low-VOC adhesive that easily meets the strict European E1 standard for indoor air quality.
Healthy for the air in your home, this floor is made without urea-formaldehyde
Easily meets the E1 and 2012 CARB standards for indoor air quality L.E.E.D Qualifications - MR 6 - Rapidly Renewable Materials and EQ 4.4 - Low Emitting Materials - Composite Wood & Laminate Adhesive
Grown and harvested from bamboo plantations -- not from wild habitats. Bamboo is a highly renewable resource, harvestable four to six years after being planted
Hardness - 3,000 per Janka scale (238% as hard as Red Oak)
IKEA wood product cabinets (Akurum white frames) with distinctive solid Oak grooved doors (style Ulriksdal)
Renewable material (wood)
Solid wood doors (or with glass), side panels, - not from intact natural forests.
“Intact forests refer to natural forest regions covering an area of more than 500 square kilometers. Those regions are not only rich in biodiversity, but also harbor ecosystems that are vital for maintaining the local and regional climatic balance, such as glaciers, marshes, and wetlands ” (World Watch Institute).http://worldwatch.org/node/3901
IKEA cabinets exceed all US standards for formaldehyde content. European standards exceed all US standards, as they include photo-chemical reactions in their analysis.
Cabinets are made with wood products that are fully recyclable, meaning that they contain NO urea formaldehyde.
Cabinets include built-in ‘recycle center’.
Made with Blum Austrian hardware which is considered one of the best European manufacturers.
World Resources Center article – “Ikea and the Natural Step” details Ikea’s commitment to the environment.
Toilets Appliances Solar attic fan
Other Building Materials
Insulation – John Manville Formaldehyde-free™ Insulation. Formaldehyde-free™ insulation products deliver the superior thermal and acoustic performance you expect from home insulation, but at the same time promote a healthier indoor air quality. Product was used for a small partial renovation. Larger renovations should consider alternative products.
Plywood - A simple “trick” to reduce formaldehyde exposure is to use exterior CDX plywood rather than interior plywood. We used plywood for assorted things including sub-floors and sub-surfaces for counter tops.
Caulking - We used Dap latex caulk with silicone. The minimum safe standard for these kinds of things is <35 VOC. Dap complies with this standard.
The greatest difficulty in recycling was disposing of Styrofoam from packing. The only place was in Redwood City. We had 11 large construction bags full of this material. We brought the bags back, of course, to reuse. We found a place which recycles asphalt, concrete, tile, etc. and recycled well over 4 tons of tile, bricks, and concrete.