Green up your home and weed out expenses

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By Maryellen Garrison

Between running air conditioners, watering plants and keeping the kids cool on a hot summer day, many of us are seeing our energy and water usage rise with the temperatures. By making some small adjustments to your home, you can conserve more energy and water. Not only is this good for the environment, but it’s good for your finances.
Here are some tips for conserving energy and water at home during the warmer months:
• Install white shades, blinds or drapes as these will help reflect heat from your home. Close them on south- and west-facing walls during the day to keep your home cooler.
• Increase your thermostat setting by 4 degrees and run a ceiling fan. This provides the same level of comfort while conserving energy. Keep televisions and lamps away from the thermostat as their heating may cause the thermostat to misread the actual room temperature and run longer.
• Run washers, dryers and dishwashers only when you have full loads. You can cut down on dryer usage during warmer months by drying clothes on a clothesline or drying rack.
• Unplug appliances and small electronics when not in use as 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while they are turned off.
• Lower the temperature on your water heater. Reducing the temperature by 10 degrees can provide savings of three to five percent in energy costs. If you’re going to be gone for more than three days, you may be able to turn your water heater off and save additional energy and money. Check your manufacturer’s instructions before doing so.
• Water your plants from a rain barrel or from leftover water when you change your pet’s water.
• Put water in a small pool for your kids rather than run a sprinkler or hose.
• Sweep sidewalks, porches, patios or driveways instead of washing debris away with a garden hose.
• Compost produce scraps instead of putting them in a garbage disposal, as disposals use a lot of water.
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