inexpensive and easy, drop-in conversions for most toilets to help save
50 to 70 percent water by using only
the amount of water required.
In addition to installing these
water-saving fixtures, you may also
want to collect your own rainwater.
A 60-gallon rain barrel, which costs
about $150, or an 80-gallon model that
might run around $300, linked to your
gutter system, can collect the water you
need to water your flower pots or vegetable garden, or wash your dog. If you
want to harvest more rainwater, install
a cistern that will hold gallons.
Your landscaping can also help
you conserve energy. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates
that the proper placement of as few
as three trees can save the average
household between $100 and $250
annually in energy costs. Because
trees and shrubs shade the ground
and evapotranspire (release water
vapor), air temperatures below trees
can be as much as 25 degrees cooler
than air above a street. Planting deciduous trees (which lose their leaves
in the fall) provides summer shading,
which helps reduce summer cooling
needs while opening up your home
to warmth from winter’s solar rays.
Conversely, by planting evergreen
trees and shrubs north and north-
west of a property, as a windbreak,
and can dramatically lower energy
costs by channeling winds away from
or over a house. When deciding your
overall landscaping plan, you might
want to consider xeriscaping—uti-
lizing plants and shrubs which re-
duce or eliminate the need for sup-
What You Don’t See Can
New homes often come with
a new home smell that is emitted
from the newly painted walls as
potentially harmful gases. The levels of volatile organic compounds,
or VOCs, emitted from paint are
something you want to avoid.
Not surprisingly, when it comes
to VOCs, the lower the number
the better. There are even zero-VOC paints on the market today.
“Products that contain no VOCs
virtually eliminate detrimental impact on air quality,” says Lauren E.
Moore, product manager, residential
segment, Pittsburgh Paints. “This
makes families with children and pets
more comfortable about the paint
they choose—both for themselves
and their indoor air quality, and for
the sense of satisfaction and responsibility of knowing they’re choosing
a product that’s better for them and
better for the environment.”
How Green Do You Want to Be?
There are many other categories
you can check out when building a
home that will deliver even more energy savings. How green you want to
be is a personal decision. Studies show
that interest in energy savings among
homeowners in terms of minimizing
impact on the environment and
watching the family budget is growing.