A Guide to Going Green

Trying to incorporate eco-friendly practices into your lifestyle? Try these small, simple tweaks to make big differences.

In The House

Focus on Fluorescent: If just one light bulb was replaced with a compact fluorescent bulb in every American home, it would save enough energy to power 3 million homes for a year, prevent the emission of green-house gases equivalent to that of 800,000 cars, and save over $600 million in energy costs.

Other bright ideas: dimmers to reduce your wattage, as well as devices that automatically turn on and off when you enter or leave a room, like the BRK Screw-In Motion Sensor Switch ($30; smarthome.com).

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Get an Energy Audit: Curb energy use and costs by having a conversation with your utility company. Many offer rebates to encourage customers to trim consumption, as well as meters and displays that show you how much energy your appliances suck up.

You may even be eligible for a time-of-use program, in which you'll be billed differently for electricity used during peak and off-peak hours. In other words, you could pay a lower rate for showering at night or doing laundry on weekends.

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Pull the Plug: A whopping 75 percent of energy consumption by home electronics, like cell phone chargers, DVD players, and printers, occurs when the devices are turned off but plugged in.

But fear not: There are gadgets, like the Kill A Watt EZ from P3 International ($60; amazon.com), designed to pinpoint those energy guzzlers. You just enter pricing data from your electric bill and then plug the appliance in question into the unit for a tally of operating costs by week, month, and year.

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Shorten the showers: You use an average of 2.5 gallons of water for every minute you're in there. Reduce your showers from 15 to 10 minutes and you'll save an incredible 375 gallons of water per month. Also be sure to turn off the faucet while you shave your legs, loofah your skin or wait for your conditioner to soak in.

Check out greenIQ.com, a Web site that calculates your environmental footprint, to see the amount of natural resources you use and harmful greenhouse gases you produce as a result of your daily activities.

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Lower the Heat: Most water heaters are set at 130°F or 140°F, but you can easily turn yours down to 120°F. You'll use less energy to heat your water and save up to 5 percent per year in water-heating expenses.

Rescue Your Mail Carrier: About 19 billion catalogs are mailed in the U.S. each year-many of which go directly into the recycling bin. For an easy fix, visit catalogchoice.org, a Web site that contacts companies on your behalf to request you be removed from their mailing list.

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