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  Sierra Magazine
  July/August 2007
Table of Contents
Green From the Ground Up
It Takes a Village
Remodeling Right
Home-Front Ecology
Picture Saving the Planet
Interview: Rachel Ackoff
Ways & Means
One Small Step
Lay of the Land
Good Going
The Green Life
Hey Mr. Green
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Sierra Magazine
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Remodeling Right Extras
More ecofriendly home upgrades for every budget
By Monica Woelfel
July/August 2007


Simple Fix BANISH THE BULBS. Incandescent lightbulbs, the kind found in most homes, burn 90 percent of their energy as heat, wasting electricity and forcing air conditioners to work harder. According to the EPA, compact fluorescent lightbulbs use two-thirds less energy than standard bulbs and last up to ten times longer. Because they contain small amounts of mercury, compact fluorescents must be disposed of properly. For more information on recycling them, visit and click on "Mercury."

More Sophisticated FIX UP YOUR FIXTURES. If every U.S. household replaced five of its high-use light fixtures with more-efficient ones, it would reduce greenhouse gases by the equivalent of taking 8 million cars off the road. Energy Star-rated light fixtures use at least a third less energy than traditional lighting. For added savings, install motion sensors that turn off the lights when a room is unoccupied. Go to and click on "Lighting" (under the "Products" section).

Whole Hog HELLO SUNSHINE. During the day, sunlight can replace much indoor lighting. A range of "daylighting" methods include low-cost ($200 to $500) tubular skylights, which use lenses and reflective tubing to amplify the sun's rays. Even on a cloudy day, a 21-inch-diameter skylight brings in the equivalent of a 100-watt incandescent bulb; when it's clear out, the mini-skylight beams brighter than ten bulbs. Learn more about natural-lighting techniques at


Simple Fix RETROFIT FAUCETS AND SHOWERS. You can easily retrofit most home faucets with aerators that slash your water usage with little noticeable effect. Replace showerheads with models that have a flow rate of 2 to 2.5 gallons per minute--and select ones with a valve that allows you to quickly shut off the flow while you're soaping up or shaving.

More Sophisticated INSTALL DRIP IRRIGATION. Replacing a standard sprinkler system with drip irrigation can drastically reduce your water use and prevent waste from evaporation and overspray. The solution can be as simple as a well-placed drip hose or as comprehensive as a subsurface landscape irrigation system complete with automatic timers. A good resource is at the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Web site:

Whole Hog REPLACE OLD TOILETS WITH LOW-FLOW OR COMPOSTING MODELS. All toilets manufactured before 1993 are water hogs. By installing a low-flow model, you will save three to six gallons per flush. Dual-flush toilets, common in Australia and Europe, save an estimated 26 gallons per day by providing a half-flush option for liquid waste. Better yet, save more than 85 gallons each day by installing a waterless, odorless composting toilet, which can reduce a pound of waste to 0.03 pounds of useable fertilizer. For low-flow-toilet tips, take the "Home Tour" on the H2ouse Web site. An up-to-date list of composting-toilet resources is available at

REPLACE YOUR CLOTHES WASHER. Your clothes washer is your home's second-biggest water guzzler after the toilet. A traditional model gulps about 41 gallons per load, compared with only 23 gallons for a new efficient model. Energy Star-rated washers conserve water while saving on your energy bills as well. Visit the "Clothes Washers" section (under "Appliances") at

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