Friends often tell me they want to make their homes greener but don’t know where to start. Everyone also want to know what are the “easy” things they could quickly do. So in I invented the 5-10-50 list… what 5 things can any homeowner do themselves, in 10 minutes or less, and save at least 50%. Here’s my list…. I’d be curious to hear what others would put on theirs:
#1: Replace your showerhead – Low flow shower heads are ready for the big time now: they give sprays that don’t feel anemic and they save significant water without shortening your shower. Our top pick is the Alsons Fluidics.
#2: Retrofit your toilet – We rarely replace toilets because they’re pretty bullet proof and rarely go wrong. So if your house is 5 years or older, you probably are using more water than you need to. The easiest retrofit you can do is the HydroRight dual-flush conversion system… it is incredibly simple to install and in no time, you’ll have a dual-flush toilet. If a dual-flush isn’t your thing, and you aren’t wild about the little buttons, try the Sloan FlushMate as a retrofit. And if you want to really save water, Sloan also makes theAqus which reuses the sink water!
#3: Replace your light bulbs – Unfortunately, lots of us have had a bad experience with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs), and are soured on converting our tried and true incandescent lights with “energy efficient” lighting. The good news, is that advances in CFL and LED technology should encourage us to put away our prejudices from past experiences and replace our bulbs. I recently replaced my children’s playroom with 6″ LED Retrofit Kits from e-conolight and not only am I using 80% less energy, it actually looks better now!
#4: Buy an energy monitor – You can’t fix what you don’t know… that’s why I love these simple energy monitors so much. There are two options. The Belkin Conserve Insightis what I would call the “mac” of the two. It’s a prettier device with a simpler interface and but the long cable has pluses and minuses. On the other hand, the old tried and trueKill-a-Watt is a great device… you can’t go wrong with either. I personally have a soft spot for the Kill-a-Watt because some DIYers have created a version of it that tweets and you can even purchase the kit to make your own Tweet a Watt.
#5: Add a weather based controller to your landscape irrigation: Nothing makes me more frustrated than seeing my sprinklers running in the rain. The good news is that every major manufacturer now sells weather based control systems, either as a stand-alone system or as an add on. Our landscaping section reviews a number of them.