Start with the basics, then consider larger improvements to save energy, reduce your use of nonrenewable resources, and conserve water.
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- When replacing kitchen cabinets, choose solid wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for sustainability.
- Choose energy-efficient appliances with the Energy Star label. Older refrigerators are especially big energy wasters. Replace your standard dishwasher with a new model that's energy-efficient, quiet, and conserves water. You can cut your energy use by up to 30 percent with new qualified appliances.
- Vent your kitchen range hood to the outside for healthier indoor air.
- Clean with natural home ingredients such as baking soda for scouring, distilled white vinegar for cutting soap scum and cleaning stains, and vegetable-base soaps.
- Supplement natural light with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) because they convert most of their energy into light rather than heat, consuming 75 percent less electricity and lasting 10 times as long as incandescent bulbs.
- Fix that drip, or, better yet, replace old faucets with new units that have low-flow aerators. You can save thousands of gallons of water a year.
- Replace vinyl flooring with natural linoleum, which is long-lasting and made with environmentally friendly materials.