BRENT CONLEY

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Save Money While saving the Planet

Households can be extremely wasteful. Water, paper, plastics and electricity are flushed and discarded - polluting waterways, filling landfills and damaging the ecosystem. But, by changing a few habits, homeowners can conserve natural resources and reduce pollution. And if saving the planet is not incentive enough, you will be saving money too. The following are some tips on how to improve your household's environmental practices:

Conserving Water

* Install a water-saving toilet or place a full bottle of water or a brick in the tank to displace water volume (and thereby conserve) water.
* Install a low-flow showerhead and aerators on faucets
* Take shorter showers
* Don't let the water run while brushing teeth or hand-washing dishes
* Only use the dishwasher or clothes washer when there is a full load
* Fix leaking faucets
* Water your lawn and garden in the morning or at night
* Wash your car with a bucket and pail instead of a garden hose
* Collect rainwater in a barrel for watering plant

Managing Paper and Trash

* Reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible.
* Compost organic waste and use your Green Bin!
* Shop for products with minimal packaging
* Use cloth towels, napkins and diapers over their paper equivalents
* Inform the post office or delivery person that you do not wish to receive flyers and other junk mail
* Use reusable canvas grocery bags (who needs to pay  .05 cents a bag anyhow?)
* Use rechargeable batteries
* Donate unwanted belongings to charity or sell them at a yard sale

Conserving Energy

* Turn down the thermostat overnight and during work hours. Programmable thermostats are available to do the job for you!
* Seal and insulate. Up to 40 percent of a home's heat is lost through air leaks. By putting weather-stripping around doors, caulking windows and adding more insulation, you can limit the loss to a minimum.
* Wrap heat ducts and hot water pipes with insulation. Protection against energy loss is especially important in unheated areas such as the attic or basement.
* Blanket the water heater. Specially designed insulating blankets are available for your water heater.
* Use energy-efficient lights. Compact fluorescent or other energy-efficient bulbs are more expensive than commonplace light bulbs, but they last much longer and cost considerable less to operate.
* Buy and use appliances wisely. Read the accompanying EnergyGuide rating labels to determine what difference each appliance will make to your energy bill. Operate high-energy appliances, like washers and dryers, with full loads during off-peak hours for maximum energy economy.
* in warmer weather dry clothes on a clothesline or an inside drying rack in cooler months instead of using the electric dryer