1)    Plant a deciduous tree to shade your house.
A tree planted on the west side of your house, to shield it from the intense sun of summer afternoons, will keep your house cooler and reduce air-conditioning costs. To further improve cooling, plant trees and shrubs that will shade air conditioners and asphalt driveways. Get a helpful primer.

2)    Keep two cloth reusable bags in each of your cars.
The fewer plastic or paper bags you use at the grocery store, the less energy will have to be spent recycling them. If you don’t have reusable bags on hand, most supermarkets sell them for about a dollar. Keep two in your car so you’ll always have them handy for shopping.

3)    Reduce waste.
Almost all municipalities or trash pickup services offer smaller containers – at lower monthly rates. The more you reduce your garbage, the more trash you are keeping out of landfills, and the more dollars you are keeping in your pocket when you switch to a smaller size container. Make sure you are recycling everything you can. Choose products with minimal packaging.

4)    Start composting.
By composting you not only reduce food scraps going into your garbage, you reduce the need for fertilizer in your garden or landscape by improving the soil. Dumping scraps into your compost bin is no more work than taking out the garbage, and you’ll be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Remember: no meat, dairy or bones.

5)    Replace burned-out bulbs with LED and CFL lighting.
Although the bulbs are more expensive to buy, they last so much longer that in the long term you’ll save money as well as energy (right now you might find outdoor LED holiday lights on clearance, too). However, fluorescent bulbs contain mercury and can’t go in the trash. Take them to your local Home Depot, which will recycle them free.

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