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You’ll barely need a hammer for most of these eco-friendly alterations.

green-home-tipsGreen home construction is expected to more than double — increasing from a $36 billion industry in 2013 to between $83 to $105 billion by 2016, according to a recent study from industry trade publication McGraw-Hill Construction

If you want your home to be more eco-friendly, but don’t have the dollars (or desire) to build brand-new digs, don’t worry: You can up your home’s sustainability factor with just a few relatively simple fixes.

Turn your living space into a more efficient, less costly and positively pro-earth abode with our room-by-room green home guide.

Living Room
 
    1. Add more efficient lighting: Energy StarThird Party Link estimates that inefficient light bulbs are used in almost 70 percent of the sockets in the U.S. Using fluorescent or LED light fixtures for overhead and wall-mounted light fixtures that are on for more than 2 hours each day in heavily trafficked locations can help reduce energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, last longer than many traditional light bulbs and can be more durable and energy-efficient, according to Energy Star Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, another type of energy-efficient lighting, can also help cut costs, energy use and climate change-inducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
      Unsure which high-efficiency light is right for you? Use the Energy Star Choose a Light GuideThird Party Link to determine your preferred bulb use, shape, brightness and type. Check out National Geographic’s Light Bulb Savings CalculatorThird Party Link to find out how much you could save.
    2. Use sunlight and reduce electricity use: The EPA suggests installing task-specific lights to reduce overhead lighting needs. Use natural light from windows and skylights, sometimes called daylighting. Installing high-efficiency windows can help by reducing the need for artificial lighting.
    3. Shut your stuff down: Good HousekeepingThird Party Link recommends plugging your TV, DVD player, computer and other devices into a UL-certifiedThird Party Link power strip to easily turn everything off (some dormant electronics that are still plugged in will continue to draw power all day, resulting in unneeded costs throughout the year.)
    4. Try a cooler room temperature: MSN Real EstateThird Party Link says turning your thermostat down a single degree in cold weather can save 3 to 5 percent more energy, and energy.govThird Party Link notes you can save 10 percent annually on heating bills if you turn your heat down 10–15 degrees when you’re gone or sleeping. On the flip side, if you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort, according to energy.govThird Party Link ― just remember to turn the fan off when you’re not in the room.
 
Basement/Attic
 
    1. Improve your hot water heater’s output: According to energy.govThird Party Link, heating your water can account for 14-25 percent of the energy you consume at home. Dial the temperature down to 120°F, if it isn’t there already, and insulate your hot water lines to avoid too-fast cooling issues in between use. Installing low-flow shower and bath fixtures can also help hot water system effectiveness.
    2. Amp up your insulation: You can reduce how fast heat escapes from your house in winter (or enters it in warmer months) with good fiberglass, cellulose or foam insulation; boosting insulation in unfinished attics and adding blown-in insulation to homes that don’t have any insulation in the walls can also help with use reduction and energy loss, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.
 
Kitchen
 
    1. Paint right: Planning to spruce up your walls? Certain types of paint, cleaning supplies and other materials may emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which the EPAThird Party Link says are gases emitted from certain solids or liquids that can comprise a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. So read the labels and purchase paint with no or low VOCs to avoid potentially toxic gases in your home.
    2. Choose energy-efficient appliances: If you’re considering any new appliance purchases, opt for energy-efficient models with an Energy Star label, which indicates they’ve been certified by the jointly run U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency program. (For a list of certified energy-efficient products, visit the Energy StarThird Party Link website.)
    3. Give garbage new life: Take recycling to the next level by adding a compost bin to your kitchen, which can be stored in a cabinet, according to the Washington Post To create organic compost matter that can be used as mulch, the National Gardening AssociationThird Party Link suggests you layer brown, dry materials like dried leaves on the bottom of the bin; top it with half as many vegetable scraps, grass and other green materials; and wet each layer so it’s moist. (If the bin starts to emit an unpleasant aroma, sprinkle some baking soda on top, a tip from the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability)
    4. Fill empty refrigerator areas: Pack vacant fridge and freezer space — which will enhance cooling capabilities and reduce energy use and cost, according to the Food NetworkThird Party Link ― with full water bottles or balled-up newspaper.
    5. Make a meal without meat: Adding one vegetarian dinner each week has essentially the same impact as a family of four switching to a hybrid car, according to Real SimpleThird Party Link magazine, because raising livestock creates abundant greenhouse gases.
 
Bathroom
 
    1. Shut off the sink: Cut the water when brushing your teeth and you can conserve up to five gallons a day, according to Good Housekeeping
 
Laundry Room
 
    1. Conserve when cleaning clothes: Dry your wet duds on an outdoor clothesline, if possible; if you’re using your dryer, only put in full laundry loads. When washing, consider using a warm wash and cold rinse instead of a hot wash and warm rinse — the water warm-up stage comprises up to 90 percent of washing machine energy use, and a warm wash works just as effectively on nearly all clothes, according to global environmental organization Greenpeace Check out their article for more great tips on conserving energy in your laundry room.
    2. Garnish surfaces with greenery: Add some potted plants, which absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, making them, as Better Homes and GardensThird Party Link says, useful environmental air filters.
 
Outside
 
    1. Add some foliage: Older homes with less-than-perfect insulation can benefit from deciduous tree (plants that drop their leaves for part of the year) landscaping on their west side, according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Home Guide The trees will block infrared radiation, which can warm up a home in summer, and light can easily shine through as a heat source in winter, when trees are bare.
 
One last move
 

Get rid of things responsibly: Remodeling your home to make it more eco-friendly can help support the environment ― but if you’ve removed significant structures, appliances or other items, you could undo all that green goodwill by just dumping them in a landfill when the work is done.

HGTVThird Party Link suggests contacting The ReUse PeopleThird Party Link, an organization that accepts shipped, salvageable items for redistribution and provides supplies to nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity. And, hey — your donation may also mean an additional tax write-off.

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