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Get the latest information on new tools, trends and ideas for your DIY projects from The Family Handyman experts.

DIY Fixes for a Greener Home

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As DIYers, we love to build, tinker and fix things. Here are five things you can do to make your everyday DIY efforts greener. They can save you money, make your home more energy-efficient and/or make your home healthier and more comfortable.

 

1. Choose low- or zero-VOC paint

Low-VOC paint
Improve the air quality of your home with low- and zero-VOC paints.

That "new paint smell" of traditional paints is really VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These chemicals off-gas (vaporize) into the air and can cause short- and long-term adverse health effects. The good news is that most major paint manufacturers offer low- and zero-VOC finishing options now, and the quality has improved tremendously over the past few years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Kill energy vampires

Using power strips to cut energy consumption
Turn off electronics when they're not in use.

According to the Department of Energy, 75 percent of the electrical use by home electronics occurs when they're turned off. These "energy vampires" suck electricity all day long—costing you an extra $100 each year. Unplug your electronics or plug them into a power strip, then turn off the strip. There are also "smart strips," which can shut off power to electronic devices that aren't being used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Install smarter switches

Using motion sensors to save energy
Motion sensors turn lights on and off, which saves money and energy.

 

Motion sensors (occupancy sensors) automatically turn lights on and off so you only get (and pay for!) light when you need it. Using motion sensors in the garage, outside and around the house can save you up to $100 annually in electricity costs. They're convenient in areas like the laundry room when reaching for a light switch is difficult with your hands full.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Build with salvaged construction materials

Using reclaimed building materials
Recycle, reuse and reclaim building materials.

 

Use reclaimed building materials in your home projects. It's a great way to save money and you'll prevent useful items from going to a landfill. Many communities have local ReUse Centers, and you can also check salvage yards and your local Craig's List. Helpful Web sites include build.recycle.net and freecycle.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Go low-flow

A 1.6-gpm water-saving showerhead from Delta

This water-efficient showerhead from Delta uses 36 percent less water but delivers what feels like a standard 2.5-gpm flow. (Photo courtesy of Delta.)

 

Showerheads are not only the second heaviest water user (after toilets) but also a major energy eater. That's because 70 percent of the water flowing through the head comes from your water heater. Switching to a low-flow head means you'll reduce water consumption and water heating. And new efficient showerheads change the shape and velocity of the water stream—even the size of the drops—to provide the high-flow feel using just 1.6 gpm.

 

 

 

— Elisa Bernick, Associate Editor

 

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  • Comments
    • by posted on

      They  make  flow   control  inserts  that   do  the  same  job  for  much  less  than a  new  shower  head  so keep  your  present  one  , remove  it  insert  the  baffle  and  then  you have  achieved  the  same  principal

    • by posted on

      There is  a  simpler  fix...they  make  flow  control inserts  ...all you have to do is  remove  your  present  head   and  insert  the  flow  control  baffle ( fits  inside  area  where  head  threads on .  This  way you can use  your  present  showerhead.

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