Incorporating a bit of greenery into your home with houseplants can do a whole lot more than brighten your living space. Plants release oxygen into the air and remove carbon dioxide from the environment through the process of photosynthesis. While all houseplants help “clean” the air, some of the most common houseplants are the most efficient when it comes to removing pollutants from indoor air.

A great many common household products and materials used in new construction pollute the air we breathe. While we can smell some products that offend, others put out pollutants that our noses do not recognize. Carpeting from man-made materials, carpet adhesives, laminate flooring, paints, and plastics can be sources of potentially noxious chemicals. Natural air purifiers, houseplants can help remove toxins from the air.

Plants Make A Difference

Several plants, well known to indoor gardeners, do an excellent job of removing a diverse array of pollutants from the air within our homes. Adding easy-to-grow, low-light tolerant houseplants can make the difference between an indoor atmosphere that adversely affects individuals with allergies or sensitivities to one that is clear, clean and healthy to breathe. Do you know that a single efficient houseplant in a 6-inch pot can cleanse the air in an eight by ten foot room? There is no need for your home to look like a jungle when the careful placement of just a few plants of different sizes and in varied locations, can make such a marked improvement in air quality.

Golden Pothos

Golden Pothos, an easy care plant that can tolerate dry spells and thrives on neglect, does an excellent job of removing the pollutants of household cleaners and industrial solvents. The plant does best in a sunny location, but will do fine in a low light situation.

Peace Lily

The Peace Lily with its brilliant green leaves and vigorous growth is an ideal choice for a touch of green in the living room, preferring high, indirect light, moist soil and an even temperature. The stately plant presents whitish flowerlike hoods that are in fact modified leaves, hiding the real flower tucked away inside. The more sunlight the plant receives, the more “hoods” it develops. For best growth, allow the plant to dry out slightly between watering. With proper care, the Peace Lily will grow to 3 to 5 feet tall at maturity, a fine choice to brighten a drab corner of the room. Plants cleanse the air through a process that happens with the plant roots, leaves and flowers. The larger the surface of the leaf and root system, the more pollutants the plant can remove from the surrounding air.

Ivy

All varieties of ivy, especially English Ivy, are efficient at cleansing the air in the home. Presenting tough, glossy, dark green leaves and a vining habit, the hardy English Ivy plant thrives in a nutrient-rich soil in a sunny location. The plant loves moisture in the air, doing well in the kitchen, laundry room or bathroom. Adding houseplants to your home not only makes it more attractive; it makes it cleaner and the air sweeter.

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Whether you’re environmentally conscious or just want to save a few dollars on your utility bills, there are simple ways to do both. One of the first steps to conserving electricity and water is to become more aware of when and how you’re using it.

A major challenge for many parents is to get their kids to turn off lights, appliances, and water faucets when they’re not using them. With persistence, you can hopefully get them to understand the importance of saving money, controlling costs, and conserving resources.

Dependable Old Appliances Are a Mixed Blessing

Toilets and household appliances can last much longer than their expected life span, but after a certain point, you’re getting diminishing returns. If your toilets are more than 25 years old, for example, you’re wasting gallons of water with every flush. Inefficient toilets from just a couple generations ago use as much as six gallons of water every time they’re flushed. According the Environmental Protection Agency, recent advances in toilet design are now enabling families to use only 1.28 gallons of water per flush while still getting superior performance. In dollars and cents, families that replace old, obsolete toilets with Watersense-certified models can save more than $110 a year (and nearly 13,000 gallons of water). The EPA says utilities may even offer rebates and vouchers that can lower the price of a WaterSense labeled toilet. (As a side note, toilet use in homes accounts for nearly 30 percent of an average family’s indoor water consumption.)

If your washing machine was manufactured before 2003, it’s another source of wasted water and energy. The newer Energy Star-certified clothes washers can save about $45 a year in utility bills, based on typical usage patterns. They use about 25% less energy and 45% less water than the old, standard models. The EPA also says that if you have a dishwasher made before 1994, it wastes approximately 10 gallons of water per cycle. By switching to an energy-efficient model, an annual savings of $35 a year can be realized by the average family.

There’s actually a wide range of Energy Star-certified products available that can save you money on utility costs and help conserve water and electricity. In addition to washers, dryers, and dishwashers, other energy-efficient appliances include dehumidifiers, refrigerators, freezers, air purifiers, water heaters, heating and cooling equipment, computers, televisions, pool pumps, and much more. Energy efficiency — or a lack, thereof — is one factor to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace old appliances, HVAC systems, or plumbing fixtures in your home.

Not only will you save money when your home is operating efficiently, but you’ll enjoy the satisfaction that comes with minimizing waste and making the most of natural resources.

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