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Region 1: EPA New England

Go green at home

How to start saving energy with ENERGY STAR® today

Graphic of the Energy Star logo.

ENERGY STAR® is a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. Energy efficient choices can save families about a third on their energy bill with similar savings of greenhouse gas emissions, without sacrificing features, style or comfort. There are several simple actions you can take to save energy.

  • Change a light and save a bundle. ENERGY STAR® qualified light bulbs are 75% more efficient than incandescent bulbs. When just one room in every home is brightened by ENERGY STAR® lighting, the change will keep over one trillion pounds of carbon dioxide out of our air.
  • Make a quick trip to the hardware store or home improvement center for a hot water insulation kit to wrap your water heater and save on water heating costs.
  • Use an ENERGY STAR® qualified programmable thermostat that can automatically adjust the temperature of your home when you are away.
  • Ensure that your whole system (i.e., furnace, heat pump, air conditioner, and heating and cooling) is energy efficient. Leaky ducts can decrease the overall energy efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20%. Duct sealing increases efficiency and lowers your utility bills.
  • Upgrade your refrigerator if it is 10 years old or older. Refrigerators use more energy than any other appliance in your home, but an ENERGY STAR® qualified refrigerator uses about half the energy of a 10-year old conventional model.
  • Consider replacing your central air conditioning system if it is more than seven years old. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when you buy and use 20% less energy than a standard model. If just one household in 10 bought ENERGY STAR® heating and cooling equipment, the change would keep over 17 billion pounds of pollution out of our air.
  • Replace your clothes washer with an ENERGY STAR® labeled model when it is time. Clothes washers use energy to both clean clothes and heat water, so to save on energy costs, wash your clothes in cooler water. ENERGY STAR® qualified clothes washers use 50% less water and 70% less energy per load; that's up to $100 every year.
  • Run your washer, dryer, and dishwasher only with a full load.
  • Seal and insulate your home to improve comfort and reduce heating and cooling costs. EPA recommends Home Sealing to improve your home's "envelope" or the outer walls, ceiling, windows and floors. To improve the envelope of your home: Add insulation, seal air-leaks, and choose an ENERGY STAR® labeled window if you're in the market for new windows.
  • Check with your local utility or use our Special Offers search to see what incentives or rebates are available for the purchase of ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances, lighting, or HVAC systems.
  • Start saving energy by using our Home Improvement Tools. These tools can tell you how efficiently you use energy at home and recommend the most cost-effective improvements.

Reuse
The old adage "One man’s trash is another man's treasure" defines reuse. Reusing items by repairing them, donating them to charity and community groups, or selling them reduces waste. Reusing products, when possible, is even better than recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again.

graphic of a blue arrow.Action you can take:
Consider reuse when disposing of household items such as old computers, clothing and appliances. For reuse opportunities, see EPA New England’s pamphlet titled Reuse in New England, a resource guide to donation opportunities at www.epa.gov/region1/assistance/reuse/index.html

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Recycle
Photo of a recycling center.Recycling includes collecting recyclable materials that would otherwise be considered garbage, sorting and processing recyclables into raw materials, and manufacturing raw materials into new products. Recyclable materials typically include: paper and paperboard (like newsprint, cardboard, direct mail), glass, metals (such as steel and aluminum), plastics (like bottles, grocery bags), yard waste (such as grass clippings, brush), electronic equipment (like computers, televisions, cell phones) and food wastes. Collecting recyclables varies from community to community; however, there are four primary methods of recycling: curbside, drop-off centers, buy-back centers, and deposit/refund programs.

graphic of a blue arrow.Action you can take:
Identify your community’s recycling program at www.epa.gov/ region1/communities/ recycling.html or contact your local department of public works or state environmental agency.

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Recycling electronics (eCycling)
Electronic equipment, sometimes referred to as “e-waste” is an emerging and growing waste stream. E-waste includes electronic products discarded by consumers such as TV and computer monitors, CPUs and computer peripherals (e.g., keyboards, mice), cell phones, and printers/copiers. Check what kind of electronics can be collected in your community and which retailers and manufacturers will take their products back for free or for a fee. E-waste contains natural resources, including metals and plastics that can be reclaimed. In addition, computer monitors and older TV picture tubes contain an average of two to four pounds of lead (depending on their age) and require special handling when disposed. Electronics also can contain other substances of concern, including mercury, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants. When electronics are disposed of improperly, these toxic materials can present problems.

graphic of a blue arrow.Action you can take:
Extending the life of your electronics or donating your most up-to-date and working electronics can save you money and saves valuable resources. Safely recycling outdated electronics promotes safe management of hazardous components and supports the recovery and reuse of valuable materials. For detailed information on what you can do, go to: www.epa.gov/region1/solidwaste/electronic/organizations.html

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Composting
Composting, the controlled biological decomposition of organic matter such as food and yard wastes into humus, a soil-like material, is another form of recycling. It is nature’s way of recycling organic wastes into new soil which can be used in vegetable and flower gardens, landscaping and many other applications. Composting can be done in your backyard in a compost pile or bin or in your home with a worm bin. It is nature’s way of recycling organic waste into new soil, which can be used in vegetable and flower gardens, landscaping, and many other applications.

graphic of a blue arrow.Action you can take:
Collect your yard and food wastes and start your own composting at home. See www.epa.gov/region1/composting/index.html and check your state environmental agency’s composting site.

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Household hazardous waste
Photo of various batteries.Discarded household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients are considered to be household hazardous waste. Products, such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, pesticides and solvents, which contain potentially hazardous ingredients, require special care at disposal. If mishandled, these products can be dangerous to your health and the environment.

graphic of a blue arrow.Action you can take:
Never pour household hazardous wastes down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or put them out with the trash.

graphic of a blue arrow.Action you can take:
Proper disposal opportunities generally include community sponsored household hazardous waste days. Go to www.epa.gov/region1/communities/ hazwaste.html for detailed information.

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Pressure treated wood
Photo of a family at a swingset.Pressure-treated wood is wood that has been treated with a preservative to protect it against dry rot, fungi, molds, termites and other pests. Since the 1970s, the majority of wood used to build outside structures, such as swing and play sets, decks, walkways, fences and picnic tables, was treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). CCA is a chemical wood preservative containing chromium, copper and arsenic. Exposure to inorganic arsenic may present certain hazards. Use of CCA for wood products around the home and in children’s play areas is no longer allowed as of December 31, 2003. Even though CCA can no longer be used in residential settings, many existing decks and other structures are made of wood treated with CCA. Although EPA’s review of CCA is still ongoing, the agency does not believe there is any reason to remove or replace CCA-treated structures, including decks and playground equipment.

graphic of a blue arrow.Action you can take: Always wash hands thoroughly after contact with any treated wood, especially prior to eating and drinking. Food should not come into direct contact with any treated wood. Wash play clothes and toys if they have come in contact with any treated wood. If you are concerned, you may want to consider the application of a coating product to pressure-treated wood on a regular basis. The following link provides information on sealants: www.epa.gov/oppad001/reregistration/cca/index.htm#sealants. Some studies suggest that sealants can reduce the amount of CCA that leaches from treated wood. Treated wood should never be burned in open fires, stoves, fireplaces, or residential boilers. For more information on CCA, see EPA’s web site at www.epa.gov/oppad001/reregistration/cca/.

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