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Planet earthWith more than 1 billion people participating in Earth Day activities each year, it’s hard to fathom what we all did on April 22 prior to 1970—the year Senator Gaylord Nelson put into motion a movement that continues to motivate people into action when it comes to caring for—and protecting—our environment.

Whether you’re a preservationist, or activist—or somewhere in between—there’s no shortage of ways to take green living to the next level.

As we commemorate Earth Day’s 46th year, let’s take a look at a few of the things you can do within your own home to live a greener, more sustainable life.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. If you’re looking to save time, energy and money, get serious about waste reduction. By eliminating the need to make materials from scratch, recycling is an energy-saving initiative through and through. If you’re not sure where to start, begin with a commitment to focus on the four primary recyclables: aluminum, plastics, paper and glass.

Switch out Light Bulbs. It’s a well-known fact that CFLs and LEDs use much less energy, and last a lot longer, than regular incandescent bulbs. While the initial cost may be a bit steeper, you’ll be saving money in the long run. Once your home is properly equipped, don’t forget to turn lights off when they’re not being used.

Conserve Water. Paying attention to the way in which water is used within your home is a good activity for the entire family to take part in if you’re serious about greening up your routine. Whether it’s turning off the water when brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers, only running the washer/dishwasher when full, repairing leaky faucets or installing water-saving toilets/shower heads, there are numerous ways to limit your water use—without affecting your routine.

Go Green when You Clean. A quick search on the Internet will open the door to a vast array of all-natural, environmentally-safe cleaning products that can be used throughout your home. If you’re feeling remotely adventurous, you can make your own cleaners with ingredients you most likely already have in the pantry.

Unplug Devices when Not in Use. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, anywhere from 5-10 percent of your residential electricity is sapped by devices that are plugged in all day, every day. A little effort goes a long way when it comes to unplugging devices such as computers, stereos, DVD players, coffeemakers, lamps, toasters, etc.

Don’t Touch the Heat. While the days are getting warmer, there’s still a chill in the air most mornings and evenings. Rather than touch the thermostat, dress in layers to keep yourself warm. Investing in a programmable thermostat is another simple way to save energy without sacrificing comfort.

Invest in Energy-Efficient Appliances. Is that tax refund burning a hole in your pocket? Put those funds to good use and purchase an energy-efficient appliance (or two). From washers and dryers to refrigerators and freezers, there’s no shortage of energy-efficient products to choose from. By simply scoping out the ENERGY STAR label, you’ll help protect the environment (and save money at the same time!). And better yet, when it comes time to sell your home, energy-efficient appliances will surely work in your favor.

This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for top real estate tips and trends.