1. Use compact fluorescent lightbulbs. The often spiral-shaped bulbs fit most fixtures, give off warm (not bluish) light, and use just one-fourth the energy of incandescent bulbs.
2. Replace old appliances—especially energy-hogging refrigerators—with Energy Star–qualified home appliances, which use 10 percent to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models. Check efficiency ratings at www.energystar.gov.
3. Set your home thermostat at 68 degrees, or better yet, install an inexpensive programmable thermostat that can lower temps when you’re at work and asleep. Insulate your hot-water heater, and set it at 120 degrees. Combat air leaks and drafts by caulking windows, installing sweeps on door bottoms, insulating around drafty outlets and vents, and using window coverings, which make it harder for heat to escape.
4. Buy now-standard low-flow toilets (1.6 gallons per flush) when replacing older toilets (3 to 6 gallons per flush). Your city may offer a changeover rebate; check with your water utility.
5. Consider “green building” techniques—using sustainable or salvaged materials—for your next home or home-improvement project. Several states offer incentives for resource efficiency; check with your local building department. To find eco-friendly products, vendors, and contractors, visit www.greenerbuilding.org. For comprehensive solar information, check out www.ases.org and www.millionsolarroofs.com.