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March 30, 2009

How do I Green My House?

We’ve all read the lists. How to green this and that. Top 10 Eco whatever. Still, many of us haven’t got off our derriers and done something, anything. Step by step, cheapest and easiest first, you’ll save money and get to feel smug…all while doing your part to stop effing the world for your grandchildren (and mines).

When elephant wants to find out the best, easiest, cheapest ways to green your house, we ask our community. Handymen, contractors, green realtors, eco-experts. When the New York Times wants to find out the best, cheapest ways to green your house, they ask the world:

senior editor at Grist.org, is the co-editor of “Wake Up and Smell the Planet: The Non-Pompous, Non-Preachy Grist Guide to Greening Your Day.”

When it comes to greening your life, there are three big things to think about: what you eat, how you get around and how much juice you use.

I’m not talking A-Rod here. I’m talking about the juice you use to heat your house, fuel your flat-screen, charge your cell phone, and power all those other sizzly things you do all day.

The typical American family spends $1,900 a year on utility bills — but that can be cut by 25 percent just by taking steps toward a greener, more efficient home. Here are a few of those steps:

1. Cough it up. Check with your utility to see if you can buy green power. For just a few dollars more per month (money you’ll easily earn back as you make your house more efficient), you’ll get cleaner energy, which is better for air, water, climate, and public health.

2. Start wrapping. Find out where your hatches could use a little battening. Check the insulation in your attic, crawl spaces and basement, and add more if there isn’t enough. Wrap your water heater. Replace rattly windows and doors, or at least add weather-stripping to beat those drafts.

3. Stop sucking. Together, electronics and appliances use 20 percent of your home’s energy. So put your gizmos on a power strip. Install a programmable thermostat. Replace outdated appliances with smarter models (yep, it’s O.K. to buy a new one if you properly dispose of the old energy hog).

It may sound like a lot of work. But you don’t have to do it all at once — each step helps. And if you do nothing, the next big juicing scandal could unravel right in your living room….for the rest, click here.

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