What are the five simplest things any homeowner can do to green his or her residence? That's the question the New York Times posed to Eric Corey Freed, the author of “Green Building & Remodeling for Dummies.” The five tips that follow are pretty low-tech, and most are so uninvasive that even a renter can do them without involving a landlord.
- Eliminate vampire power. We've been over this one before. Your toaster, phone chargers, and other appliances are all sucking power when they're not in use, and if America collectively unplugged their gadgets after they finished using them, we'd save $3 billion a year. If it's hard to remember to unplug, buy a smart power strip that detects when you're through with your gadget, and cuts the power for you.
- "Take an empty two-liter soda bottle, wash it out, fill it with water, screw the lid on tightly and set it into your toilet tank, as far away from the flapper valve as possible," said Freed. "This prevents two liters of water from being used every time you flush." You'll still have plent of water to flush with, because older toilets can use up to seven liters of water. A low-flow toilet uses only 1.6 liters.
- Buy and install a low-flow shower head. Low-flow showers still get plenty of water pressure, because the head mixes air from the room into the water. They also use only 2.5 gallons a minute.
- Install a gray water system in your bathroom. This allows the toilet to be flushed using water that's already gone down your drain from washing faces and hands, rather than fresh water. Freed recommends two systems: AQUS and SinkPositive.
- Finally, replace your conventional thermostat with a programmable one. These thermostats allow you to see your power usage and cost per day, and also can be set to lower or raise the temperature while you're at work, or sleeping. The device pays for itself quickly in savings.