More and more Americans are keeping Mother Nature in mind when making decisions in their homes. Despite the slowdown in the housing market, homeowners are striving for better energy efficiency; in fact, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of Architects, an increasing number of people are choosing energy efficiency over features like home theaters and three-car garages.
And now there’s another incentive to go green: Last fall, the Department of Energy passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which issues rebates from a fund of up to $300 million to people who upgrade their old appliances to Energy Star-certified products. Even better, the breadth of eco-friendly products continues to swell, with options that are gentler on both the wallet and the environment. Check out our suggestions for following the green trend.
1. Flexible Fridge
Fisher & Paykel Appliances’ new CoolDrawer variable refrigerator in a drawer is an energy-efficient alternative to the standard fridge where all food items are maintained at the same temperature. This 36-inch single-drawer refrigerator offers a variety of refrigeration modes, including standard freezer, chill, refrigerator, pantry and wine settings. CoolDrawers can be installed in any drawer space in your kitchen and are Energy Star-certified. www.fisherpaykel.com.
2. Energy Wise
The number of lamps that use green bulbs is growing, which means more design options for homeowners. Satco Products recently introduced the Halogen Excel Lamp, which features reduced wattage and higher lumens. The J-type Excel is 35 percent brighter than a standard 180-watt halogen lamp and has a life expectancy of 2,000 hours. It is fully dimmable, alleviating that annoying blinking and dimming effect often associated with energy-efficient bulbs. www.satco.com.
3. Global Cooling
The laundry room is a prime spot for eco-friendly upgrades, and the new high-efficiency lines of Kenmore and Kenmore Elite washers and dryers are raising the bar again. The new machines have lost none of their sleek, front-load look, and they’ve added new colors. Energy-saving elements include the clever new Cold Clean cycle, which uses cold water to clean loads as effectively as warm water, while utilizing 43 percent less energy than the already-efficient normal cycle. www.kenmore.com.
4. Line Dry
Get the fresh smell of line-dried clothing from the BreezeDry cabinet, an innovative drying system that takes care of delicates in an eco-friendly way. Hang or lay your clothes inside and use a touch screen to select natural outdoor air or ambient, gently warmed indoor air. BreezeDry uses up to 90 percent less energy than a standard dryer. www.breezedry.com.
5. Carbon Neutral
Clean Currents in Rockville, MD, is on the cutting edge of the green energy movement, offering solar panels and utility wind power, both of which give homeowners access to carbon-neutral renewable energy. Sharp and Sunpower brand solar panels are available, and the company offers consumers wind power as an alternative to the energy source supplied by their current utility. www.cleancurrents.com.