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Six Easy, Low-Cost Ways to Go Greener
by Mark Cheng

With energy prices on the rise and global resources diminishing, more and more people are making efforts to conserve energy, water, and other resources. While some of the ways you can conserve can be expensive, below are some great, low cost ways to reduce your consumption.

1. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs - $3.50/bulb

Compared to traditional incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent light bulbs use 75% less energy, produce 75% less heat, and can last 10 times longer. According to Energy Star, if each household replaced just 1 light bulb in their home, we could save enough energy to power 3 million homes for a year, save more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.

2. Use Water-Saving Faucets, Showerheads, and Toilets - Free to $350+

Water-saving faucets, showerheads, and toilets can all help conserve water usage. Many cities now require faucets, toilets, and showerheads to conform to their water usage standards, with some even offer low cost solutions for homeowners. A water-efficient toilet can save between 8,000 to 18,000 gallons of water per year. And a water-saving showerhead alone can save up to 3,000 gallons of water, eliminate 1,000 lbs. in carbon dioxide emissions, and reduce your water bill by $50 per person per year.

3. Change Your Air Filter - $10/filter

Dust and dirt that clog air filters can reduce their effectiveness and make your heating and cooling system work harder. A system with a clogged filter consumes more energy and has a shorter lifespan. Recommendations of how often to change your filter range from one month to three months depending on how often you use your air conditioning and heating system and how fast dust accumulates on the filter.

4. Install a Water Heater Blanket, Lower the Water Temperature - $20

Traditional water heaters keep a large amount of water inside at a certain temperature, usually 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to reduce the amount of work required to keep hot water in the system, you can reduce the standard temperature to 130 degrees and install a water heater blanket. A water heater blanket wraps around the water heater to reduce heat loss by 25-40%. Be sure to keep important information regarding maintaining the water heater visible when you install one of these.

5. Programmable Thermostat - $40

Heating and cooling can be as much as half of your energy bills. A programmable thermostat that has multiple time settings can help you reduce your bills by turning off your heater or air conditioner while you're at work and can reduce their usage during sleeping hours. This feature alone will help you reduce your heating and cooling bills by $150 a year.

6. Weather Stripping and Caulking Around Windows and Doors - $20-$50

Some older windows and doors don't have proper weather stripping and some estimate that this can account for 46 percent of annual heat loss. Applying weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors can serve as a cost-effective way to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

While these methods can help you conserve energy at your current home, you may want to put green features into considering when searching for your next home.

About the Author: Mark Cheng is a San Gabriel Valley, California real estate agent with IRN Realty. He specializes in Pasadena, South Pasadena, San Marino, Temple City, and Arcadia real estate and homes for sale. Find more about him and search for listings at


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