Sunday, November 7, 2010

let's go green 'round the house

Try innovative ideas that help the earth without lightening your wallet.

1. Opt for cloth. The average American family uses 1 1/2 rolls of paper towels per week, says Earth911 (, so cutting down to just one a month could save you roughly $45 a year. Use cloth towels or old T-shirts cut into squares to clean up spills; toss them in the wash instead of the trash. Snip old sheets to use as napkins, or buy cloth napkins in various colors, with a different hue for each family member. (Visit to find napkins for as low as 83 cents a piece!)

2. Throw a green cleaning party. Gather your friends together to have some fun while mixing environmentally friendly cleaning products. Pool your money to buy the ingredients; everyone should leave with enough supplies to last a month. Try these three recipes: Glass cleaner: Combine 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice with 1 quart water. Pour into a spray bottle and use with newspapers to clean surfaces. Furniture polish: Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice to 2 cups vegetable oil. Carpet freshener: In a jar mix 1 cup crushed dried herbs, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 2 teaspoons baking soda. Shake well. Sprinkle a bit on your carpet, let it sit for an hour, then vacuum.

3. Boil water in a flash. When cooking pasta, use a kettle to boil water, then transfer the water to the pot. The water will boil faster, so you'll use less energy.

4. Tidy your computer. Instead of using pricey keyboard cleaners, which contain chemicals, turn your keyboard upside down and shake out dirt and debris. Then swipe double-sided tape between the keys to pick up any remaining bits. Source: Ideal Bite

5. Freshen up your oven. Cleaning your oven probably isn't tops on your to-do list, but once it's done your food will cook more efficiently, which will save energy and money. If you own a self-cleaning oven, start the cleaning cycle right after you've cooked or baked to take advantage of the residual heat.

6. Rinse and reuse. Get more life out of empty pickle, jam and sauce jars by washing them thoroughly and using them to store dry goods, homemade salad dressings and even leftovers. 

7. Take your temperature. Keeping your fridge and freezer colder than necessary can boost your energy consumption--and your bills. Your fridge should be set between 37°F and 40°F, the freezer between 0° and 5°F.

8. Keep water in the refrigerator. A less-than-full fridge has to work harder to stay cold than one that's completely stocked. If some shelves are bare, stash a few glasses of water on them to help maintain efficiency.

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