How to Go Green at Home

by Annie Schoening; additional research by Dionne Victor

How to Go Green at Home

Moms’ tips for an eco-friendly home. It’s easier than you think!

Green House


“I plug the drain before turning on the faucet for my kids’ bath. That way I don’t waste any water while I’m adjusting the temperature.”
 — Christine Klepacz, Bethesda, MD

“I put a plastic jug filled with water in the toilet tank. It saves gallons of water each time we flush.”
 — Fernanda Moore, Swarthmore, PA

Smart tip! If you don’t have a low-flush toilet, keeping a filled container in the tank can cut the amount of water you use by 40 percent.

Family room

“Often, instead of turning on our air conditioners, we use ceiling fans and keep the lights off during the day to cool our rooms.”
 — Jacqui Santiago Ozone Park, NY

“We plug our computer, TV, lamps, and other electronics into a power strip. When I leave the house, I only have to turn off the strip rather than unplug ten cords.”
 — Erma Briley, DeSoto, TX

“We ditched our answering machine and use voicemail instead. It doesn’t cost us any more a month, plus it cuts down on the clutter!”
 — Maura Fell, Montclair, NJ

Fact: Because answering machines are on 24/7, they use more power in a year than laptops do.

Living room

“We close the air vents in rooms we rarely use. It redirects the heat or A/C to the rooms that really need it.”
 — Marion Zaretzky, Staten Island, NY

“I’ve asked companies to remove my name from their catalog mailing lists.”
 — Sandra Abrams, Upper Saddle River, NJ

“The damper on our fireplace stays closed when we don’t have a fire going.”
 — Stephanie Pollard, Birmingham, AL

Fact: Open dampers let heat and A/C escape, and can add up to $100 a year to your utility bill.

Laundry room/utility room

“We wash our clothes in cold water so we don’t use electricity to heat the water.”
 — Christy Hester, Reno, NV

“My family replaced our broken washing machine with a front-loading one.”
 — Tammy Wheeler, Austin, TX

Fact: Front-loading washers use up to 60 percent less water than regular machines.


“I cut down on paper napkins by giving my kids cloth ones when they’re not eating something messy.”
 — Mary Dentinger, Solon, OH

“I always keep a fully stocked freezer. The frozen foods help cool whatever new items you put in there.”
 — Zahava Smith, Cleveland

Smart tip! If your refrigerator is nearly empty, stock it with water-filled containers. More cold items means your fridge can recover more quickly each time the door is opened.


“We use compact fluorescent lightbulbs. They last so much longer than incandescent bulbs.”
 — Jill Bailey, Salt Lake City

“I always unplug our cell-phone chargers when we’re done using them.”
 — Ann Fenzel, Louisville, KY

Fact: Only 5 percent of the power drawn by cell-phone chargers is used to charge phones. The other 95 percent is wasted when you leave it plugged into the wall. If 10 percent of all cell-phone users unplugged their chargers after charging their phones, we’d save enough energy to power 60,000 homes a year.

Nursery/kid’s room

“We use a nightlight that has a light sensor, so it goes off automatically.”
 — Melinda Swanson, San Diego

“My son’s toys would go through dozens of batteries a year, so now we use rechargeable batteries.”
 — Gail Einhaus, Ann Arbor, MI

Fact: It takes 1,000 regular batteries to equal the life span of one rechargeable battery.