How to have a green bathroom

Did you know

… going green in the bathroom might be easier than you think. You already may be doing things that you didn’t realize were considered green. To help you along your way, here are some things you might do or products you might use if you’re planning to be more eco-friendly when you renovate your bathroom.

Great tips to be found in the following article – covers cabinets, flooring, paint, fixtures, accessories, cleaners, lighting, tiles, toilets and more.

Read How green is your bathroom?

You can have a “weedless” organic garden

Very interesting “alternative” gardening article at Mother Earth News.

… Well, my gardens may not be 100 percent weed-free, but they are 100 percent free of weed problems.

I’ve achieved this happy state in four ways: 1) never tilling or otherwise disturbing the soil, so dormant weed seeds stay asleep, away from light and air; 2) designating permanent areas for walking and for planting to avoid compaction and the need for tillage; 3) maintaining a thin mulch of weed-free organic material to snuff out any weed seeds that blow in or are dropped into the garden by birds; 4) using drip irrigation whenever watering is called for to avoid promoting weed growth in paths and between widely spaced plants. Those are the basics of keeping my garden free of weed problems.

Eco-friendly stylish furniture from sustainable wood, twigs, reeds

Furniture made from reclaimed wood, sustainably harvested wood, and twig inspired pieces & accessories and are very fashionable right now. In the home décor world, green is the new black, so to speak. “Green” furniture was once only found in trendy, cutting edge stores but now more mainstream retailers like Crate & Barrel are taking notice.

Lockport Chair from Crate & Barrel

“I think it’s all part of this back-to-nature movement,” said Betty Kahn, spokesperson for Crate & Barrel. “Now, it seems very important that people just feel, inside or outside, that they’re going back to nature. People want to live green and this is part of that.”
Julie Young, Times-Dispatch

Crate & Barrel have just introduced a new line of furniture made from sustainably harvested wood and recycled fill.

Twisty Stool from VivaTerra

If you enjoy the look of wood, you should check out the VivaTerra catalog online. It features a wide range of striking pieces made from sustainable wood (the Twisty Stool made from Monkey Pod wood is a favorite, right), reclaimed woods with a more rustic feel (weathered hardwood salvaged from old houses, railroad ties, teak planks, barn beams), and twigs. See more at VivaTerra …

Looking for custom and one of a kind pieces? Or feeling crafty enough to make your own? Then check out the Twig Furniture Directory which features unique furniture made by artisans and how-to resources. Also check out this tutorial on How to make twig furniture on instructables.com.

Tax Breaks for Going Green

Saving on your taxes isn’t the reason most people choose to go green, but every little bit helps. Most of the tax breaks are for making your home more energy efficient – saving fuel or electricity – from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT). These home improvement tax breaks are only effective from Jan 1, 2006 to Dec 31, 2007. So you can claim these tax credits (as opposed to tax deductions) on your 2006 and 2007 tax returns and that’s it.

A tax credit is a better bang for your buck than a tax deduction because “a tax credit reduces tax dollar-for-dollar, while a deduction only removes a percentage of the tax that is owed. “.

Well alright then. Here’s a tax-saving summary from the US Department of Energy website:

Product Category

Product Type

Tax Credit Specification

Tax Credit

Windows Exterior Windows Meet 2000 IECC & Amendments 10% of cost not to exceed $200 total
Skylights Meet 2000 IECC & Amendments 10% of cost not to exceed $200 total
Exterior Doors Meet 2000 IECC & Amendments 10% of cost not to exceed $500 total
Roofing Metal Roofs Energy Star qualified 10% of cost not to exceed $500 total
Insulation Insulation Meet 2000 IECC & Amendments 10% of cost not to exceed $500 total
HVAC Central AC EER 12.5/SEER 15 split Systems EER 12/SEER 14 package systems $300
Air source heat pumps HSPF 9 EER 13 SEER 15 $300
Geothermal heat pump EER 14.1 COP 3.3 closed loopEER 16.2 COP 3.6 open loopEER 15 COP 3.5 direct expansion $300
Gas, oil, propane water heater Energy Factor 0.80 $300
Electric heat pump water heater Energy Factor 2.0 $300
Gas, oil, propane furnace or hot water boiler AFUE 95 $150
Advanced main air circulating fan No more than 2% of furnace total energy use $50

That all sounds really great, but you should know there are some catches to counting up your credits:

The credit is usually 10 percent of the cost, though there may be separate limits for specific devices. For example, up to $50 can be claimed for a main circulating air fan and up to $150 for a natural gas, propane or oil furnace, or hot water boiler. No more than $200 of the credit can be for windows.

The credit is limited to $500 for the 2006 and 2007 tax years combined. So if you claim the entire $500 credit for 2006, you won’t get the credit for 2007.

Separately, taxpayers can take a credit of 30 percent of the cost of a solar panel, solar water heater or fuel cell power plant to heat their homes, up to a maximum credit of $2,000. No part of such a system can be used to heat a pool or hot tub, however.

To be eligible for a residential energy credit, the device has to be “qualified energy property,” meaning it must meet criteria established by the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code and its supplements or, for windows and certain other items, bear the Energy Star label.
AP article on MSNBC

You should also keep your documentation as a precaution “just in case” – proof of purchase plus any promotional material or certifications from the manufacturer.

The EPA estimates that by using efficient materials you can save up to 30% in energy costs. Before jumping in and investing in the high end solutions, you should audit of your home to determine where energy is being wasted.

Most local utilities will perform one free. It highlights your home’s trouble spots where the most energy is being wasted. For a couple hundred dollars, private companies improve the service through the use of thermal imaging to graphically map out on a micro level the points at which energy loss occurs … The biggest perpetrators are almost always windows and doorways …
Matt Woolsey on Forbes.com Real Estate

And of course, windows and doors are eligible for credit.

Improving the energy efficiency of your home saves energy, saves money, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Plus you get a tax credit.

For more visuals, check out this slideshow on Tips For Greener, Less Expensive Living on Forbes.com.

Go Green With Style – The 2007 Domino Green List

Domino magazine has partnered with treehugger.com to produce their 2007 Green List, which celebrates companies and products for your home that are not only eco-friendly (either made from rapidly renewable resources, responsibly grown, recyclable, or biodegradable) but irresistibly stylish too. Winners include:

Explore more on domino.com.

Deconstructing Green – Recycle your entire Home

Interesting news story profiling the ReStore Home Improvement Center in Springfield MA. Instead of demolishing your old home and having the content dragged off to landfills, you can “donate” it to this non-profit company. ReStore will send workers to “deconstruct” your old home, taking it apart piece by piece. The material taken from the home – windows, doors, flooring, bathroom fixtures, whatever can be reused – will be sold by ReStore at its retail location. Very cool.

Read Recycling Whole Homes at the Patriot Ledger.

Solar Power for your Hot Tub

Thinking about green or alternative energy and looking for “doable” ways to start? Check out Home Improvement Ideas’s post Heat Your Hot Tub with Solar Power.

IdealBite.com – Going Green, one step at a time

Going green is hard work. It’s takes longer to to decide what to buy. You have to research everything and make a lot tough choices you may not be entirely happy with. Who has the time and the mental energy?

Enter www.idealbite.com, a site that makes going green easy, convenient, and fun. The philosophy is simple; small changes, done by many, add up to big results. The Daily Bite comes to your inbox every day, presenting 1 helpful green idea at a time you can try, complete with all the practical and environmental benefits, where to buy, and links to get you started. The tips can run the gamut from easy changes like choosing reusable chopsticks to save trees to putting a baby windmill on your rooftop as a clean,renewable energy source. Love it! You can also browse the website for tips from past newsletters in areas that interest you or visit the Marketplace where you can purchase eco-friendly products directly online.

Intrigued? Visit IdealBite.com to subscribe.

Go Green for 2007 – Resolutions from AFreshSqueeze.com

You can be good to the environment and be good to yourself at the same time according to the folks at AFreshSqueeze.com. Concrete tips for saving energy, detoxing your home, and recycling are among the “resolutions” you will find in their annual list.

Read Green Resolutions: Live Green in 2007.

The team at AFreshSqueeze.com puts out a free e-newsletter with tips for living green with useful information on green foods, restaurants, home and garden products, day trips, and healthy and sustainable living, currently with a focus on the Chicago area.

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