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Homeowners put a lot of work into making the insides of their homes green, but the outsides are just as important. By incorporating more hardscaping features, such as patio stones, onto your property and by planting native plants (rather than sod or seed), you can significantly reduce the maintenance and water needed to care for your lawn. Strategically placed trees and shrubs will also provide your property with more shade, which can reduce the amount of energy needed to cool your home.
Replacing traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient ones is a no-brainer. LED bulbs are the best choice as they last the longest, save the most energy and don’t get hot. They’re more costly but have a lifespan of 25,000 hours, so you may never have to replace them. Go a step further by installing dimmer switches–it’s an easy job and you can save a lot of money by keeping your lights at 80 percent of full power.
Your outdated appliances may still work, but they could be costing you. An efficient new fridge can save you up to $200 a year on your energy bills, meaning you will recoup the purchase price in only a few years. Energy Star-compliant dishwashers use not only 50 to 75 percent less energy than older models but also less water–as little as 11 litres per full cycle. And don’t forget the laundry room: Front-loading washers can cost just $20 a year to operate, especially if you run loads with cold water. Energy Star French-Door Ice & Water Refrigerator, GE Appliances, $3,499.
Replacing the old windows in your home with eco-friendly versions can have a big payout. Double and triple-pane windows insulate much better than single-pane styles, in turn reducing your energy bills. They can also come with glazing -– a low-emissivity, completely transparent coating that reduces harmful UV rays. But remember: If you’re installing new windows and want to get the full benefit of their eco-efficiency, spend the money on brick-to-brick replacement rather than retrofitting, because while the windows themselves are efficient, the window frames are likely not. Next Generation Ultimate Double Hung Window, Marvin Windows and Doors, from $675.