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The Budget Smart Girl’s Guide to Greening Your Home in a Weekend

Greening your home isn’t just something for the rich and famous. Even if you’re on a tight budget that doesn’t mean you can’t take a few simple steps or buy some inexpensive items to make your home a greener place. An added plus for Budget Smart Girls is going green often means saving money too. Here are some things you can do in just a weekend and all for $150 and less.

Green Your Cleaning
I no longer waste my money buying cleaning products. I use items like baking soda, vinegar, tea tree oil and a natural brand dishwashing liquid. Together they clean everything from the windows to the bath. And something else I wouldn’t be without is my Lotus Sanitizing System. I got to test drive it last year and I’ve saved a ton of money by not having to buy disinfecting sprays and veggie washes. The basic unit is $149.99 and you can buy it either from the manufacturer’s Web site at www.tersano.com or at places like JCPenney, Sears and Bed, Bath and Beyond. I also use to polish chrome fixtures on my sink and stove and lots of people have asked if I’ve installed new appliances.

Water Consumption
I’ve been more conscious about the amount of water that gets wasted in my house. As well as doing simple things like turning off the water while you’re brushing your teeth, there are items you can install to cut down on water flow. One is made by Water Pik, www.waterpikecoflow.com $39.99 and $49.99, depending on what style you want. It saves up to one gallon of water per minute and pays for itself in six months. Another item is from Real Goods www.realgoods.com and it’s their low flow showerhead. It cuts water use by 50-70% which saves a family of four up to $250 per year. It’s item number 46104 and costs just $10.
And if you really want to get into the water saving mode, you can go one step further and use the water that would just be flushed away down the toilet (yes, it’s clean water) to wash your hands. It’s the Toilet Lid Sink and it’s also available from Real Goods, item 01-0334, cost is $89.

What’s Draining the Energy?
And speaking of the Real Good catalog, it has some great finds for us Budget Smart Girls. Check out the Kill O Watt, item 17-0320, cost is $30. You simply plug any of your appliances into it and it will tell you how much energy they actually use. There’s also the Smart Power Strip, item 13-0062 for $39. Even when some items are switched off, they still use energy (see the tip below) but this item prevents them from doing just that.

It’s Cold Outside
And with snow and frigid temperatures just around the corner, we need to keep our homes toasty warm. Some simple projects include adding more insulation to the attic. Insulating the water pipes. And simple installing a programmable thermostat.

Green Your Technology
And as most of us have at least one computer in our homes, I thought I’d share with you some money saving tips I received from the techs at www.support.com

As everyone wants to lead greener lives, a good place to start is in the home office. Ninety percent of consumers fail to realize that a major source of pollution sitting right in front of them is the PC. In fact, more than 10 million end up in landfills every year. By taking a few easy steps, computer owners can keep their PCs running smoothly, avoid costly crashes and minimize skyrocketing energy bills.
Support.com, a leader in remote tech support, lends expert insight on simple steps that will help green your technology. Here are a few to consider:

Turn off your monitor OFF- A popular misconception is that turning a screen saver on is helpful for your computer. Unfortunately, it’s quite the opposite. If you’re not planning to use your PC for more than several hours, such as overnight, make sure to turn it off and keep your energy bill to a minimum.

Your peripherals need sleep, too- By attaching your MP3 player, digital camera, printer and all your favorite peripherals to a central power source that can be turned off at night, you can easily limit unnecessary power consumption.

Turn off stand-by devices- TVs, DVD recorders and phone/camera chargers, believe it or not, today consume 5% of energy in the U.S. That number could go up to 20% by 2010 because of our increased dependence on technology. Make sure to unplug whenever possible.

Change Your Power Settings- Under Start Menu > Settings > Control Panel, select Display and set “Turn Off Monitor” to 10 minutes, “Turn Off Hard Drive” to 15 minutes and “System Standby” to 30 minutes. Or, for Vista Machines, select Control Panel > Power Settings, and set them to the “Balanced” mode. (Note: Our experts have found that setting to the “Power Saver” mode is a bit aggressive and has prohibitive effects for many users.)

Remote PC repair is quick, easy and green- When things go wrong with your computer, avoid a frustrating trip to the technician or having to call someone with a repair fleet to drive out to your home to fix it. Companies like support.com offer quality repair services quickly over the phone through remote technology, without the environmental impact of a corporate fleet.

Stick with wired mice- Wired mice and keyboards use relatively little energy and they avoid unnecessary wasting of batteries.

Upgrade to an LCD flat panel monitor– Not only does the flat panel monitor boast a sleek and sophisticated addition to any office, your monitor accounts for half the energy use of a desktop computer…so choose wisely.

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