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Do Your Part: Healthier Living-Room Checklist

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By Terri Bennett

living_room_family_gathering(MCT)—Going green at home doesn’t mean spending a whole lot of money on home improvements or investing in expensive pieces of furniture or the latest and greatest in green technology. Instead, there are ways to find all sorts of ways to use less, waste less, and save more without blowing your budget. Today I’m focusing on how to Do Your Part in the living room for a healthier home.

Save Energy and Money
Start with the small stuff such as sealing up leaks around doors and windows. Caulk and weather stripping are inexpensive and a quick fix for rising energy costs. Since the fireplace is an easy target for hot air to escape, a fireplace plug for around $60 can put a stop to that waste. Also, pick better light bulbs. There are many energy efficient ones available including CFLs, LEDs, and halogens. Check out DoYourPart.com/Columns to see which ones work best in your particular fixtures. Another thing that adds to your electric costs are electronics that sip electricity even when not being used. Using a power strip with an on/off button will put an end to that expensive phantom power.

Shop for Safer Furniture and Flooring
Furniture made from medium density fiberboard (MDF) and some furniture adhesives can contain a formaldehyde-based resin that can actually pollute the air inside your home. Seek out furniture that is specifically labeled formaldehyde-free. Buying used, wood furniture pieces are another way to have cleaner indoor air because many of those dangerous chemicals have already evaporated.

And, many popular choices of flooring also emit formaldehyde. Whether it is certain imitation wood floors or new carpet — know what’s in the flooring and the adhesives you use and choose safer options.

Decorate Responsibly
From paint to plants, a lot of what we put in our living rooms can make big impact. Choose paints that are labeled no or low VOC. The costs of ones that don’t emit volatile organic compounds are comparable to conventional ones and they last just as long. You’ll also want to avoid pieces of upholstery and fabrics that are treated with synthetic chemicals that can get into the air and on our bodies. When choosing candles, opt for ones made of soy or beeswax rather than polluting petroleum products. And even a few plants placed around the living room can improve the air quality immediately.

Whether you’re looking for ways to cut costs or clean up the air in your home, the living room is the perfect place to Do Your Part for healthier living.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of “Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living” available at DoYourPart.com. Send questions to terri@doyourpart.com.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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