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Green reads: The Earth-friendly home

As Green living catches on, more and more ways to make a house environmentally friendly are emerging. The Earth-Friendly Home, by Nancy Hajeski, Jennifer Acker, Philip J, Schmidt, David Goucher and others takes new and veteran homeowners on a journey of discovery, covering everything from architecture to Green personal products for the bathroom, and does it all in an easily accessible, bullet-point style accompanied by beautiful photo layouts that show just how lovely a Green home can be.

The first three chapters focus on how to take stock of the home you presently live in. Green thinking, say the authors, "encourages people to reuse, recycle, renovate, restore, and refurbish things they already own." Good advice, as most of us can't afford to go out and replace things at will. Instead, the authors place strong emphasis on encouraging Green homeowners to try and calculate how much energy and water they use and to look for other ways to reduce their carbon footprint, such as buying locally, recycling, and making adjustments to their homes, such as investing in a tankless water heater. From there, the book moves into more generalized areas of Green living.

What makes this book work is the way it's structured: the chapters are short and easy to follow; each page is full of interesting pictures, charts, and factoids as well as how-to advice. By the time you finish a chapter, you not only know that it's wise to cut down on automobile transportation, but that all those delivery trucks on the road--the ones that bring us food, take away garbage and stock our favorite stores--help add to our personal carbon footprints by the emissions they add to the air. There are sections that tell you how to figure out exactly how much power your major appliances use, what kinds of heating and cooling systems are most effective, and how to live Green in a smaller space such as an apartment. There’s even a section on how to maintain a swimming pool so it stays energy-efficient: use a smaller pump and only run it eight hours a day. Add an automatic timer and if your pool is heated, turn the heater off when you don’t need it. Use landscaping to protect it from prevailing winds and don’t forget to keep your filters clean. This makes a refreshing change from other guides that may sniff at the idea of anyone owning a pool in the first place. Nancy Hajeski and her co-authors have created a guide that that is user-friendly, attractive and very comprehensive! The Earth-Friendly Home is a good addition to anyone’s Green library!

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