It’s easy being green!

Being “green” isn’t just something you do because it’s the right thing — it can also make your wallet a little fatter.

Simple changes can make big differences in utility bills for many homeowners. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates appliances and electronics are responsible for roughly 20% of energy bills. Something as simple as shutting down a computer will make a noticeable difference. The U.S. D.E. recommends turning it off if you aren’t going to be using it for more than two hours.

And there are plenty of other easy changes that can make a difference. Below are six simple steps from “The Green Book,” which bills itself as “The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time.”

Take a shorter shower. Every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than 10 gallons of water. And that can add up: If everyone in the country saved just one gallon from their daily shower, over the course of a year it would equal twice the amount of freshwater withdrawn from the Great Lakes every day. The Great Lakes are the world’s largest source of freshwater.

Set your thermostat a degree higher for air-conditioning and a degree lower for heating. This can save you $100 per year on your utility bill.

Recycle. If everyone in America simply separated the paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum products from the trash and tossed them into a recycling bin, we could decrease the amount of waste sent to landfills by 75%. A couple of years ago, it took an area the size of Pennsylvania to dump all our waste each year.

Buy Energy Star appliances and electronics. Households that use Energy Star products automatically become more energy-efficient and can save $600 a year in energy costs. In 2005,Energy Star helped Americans reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to those from 23 million cars and save enough on their energy bills to buy every product sold on eBay for three straight months.

Install low-flow plumbing. An average three-member household can reduce its water consumption by 54,000 gallons annually and can lower its water bills by about $60 per year.

Get ceiling fans and use them instead of air-conditioning. It costs just a penny an hour to run a ceiling fan versus 16 cents an hour to run for a room air conditioner and 43 cents an hour for central air.

For more energy-saving tips contact Donna B. Miller with Blairfield Realty at 512-968-9080 or visit us at www.BlairfieldRealty.com