<h2 style="margin: 10pt 0in 0pt"><font size="3" color="#990000">Tips to help you save money and the environment</font></h2><p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt">(ARA) – Spring is here, and after the long winter many people are taking the opportunity to do some much-needed maintenance to their homes, lawns and gardens. While you are pulling together your ‘honey-do’ list, consider making some eco-conscious or green changes, which will help you shrink your carbon footprint and save money.</span></p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt"><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">According to the experts, a few easy do-it-yourself projects can make a big difference. "Now more than ever, homeowners can take simple steps to go green while saving some green," says Lou Manfredini, Ace Hardware’s home expert.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><strong>Take an inventory</strong></p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Most homeowners have no idea how much energy they consume, so the first step is to take an inventory and find out where the energy in your home is going. Power meters, such as the P3 Kill A Watt EZ Power Meter, can be used to give an accurate read-out on the operating cost of your household appliances. Some models even break those costs down by the week, month and year.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">"Studies have shown that once families know how much energy they are using, they are more likely to make changes that will bring that amount down," Manfredini says. "Power meters can help show the importance of making simple changes like turning off the lights when you leave a room or even opting not to turn on the TV."</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><strong>Shedding light on your lighting</strong></p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">"The easiest way that people can save on their energy bills is by updating their current lighting with low energy light bulbs," Manfredini says. "Today, there are two options on the market, CFL bulbs and LED bulbs, and it’s important to know the difference so you can choose the light that’s right for you.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) have been on the market for a few years. They use fluorescent light, which is about the same degree of brightness as traditional bulbs, but consume a fraction of the energy while also lasting eight to 15 times longer. Products like the GE Spiral CFL Bulb are Energy Star rated and give off an attractive, soft, white light.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) were created to be used in indicator lights in cars and airplanes. Today, LED bulbs are making their way into households across the country, with GE’s Energy Smart LED Flood Light leading the pack. LED bulbs aren’t as advanced as CFL bulbs yet, and their light often isn’t as bright, but they use less energy than CFL bulbs, have a longer life span and don’t contain mercury – leading many experts to claim that LED bulbs are the light bulbs of the future.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><strong>Conserve water in your washroom</strong></p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">"If you think about it, it’s no surprise that toilets can be one of the biggest culprits of wasting water," says Manfredini. There are several different efficient models on the market today, but replacing your toilet can be a costly – and time intensive – project.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Instead of replacing your toilet, simply install the Hydroright Dual Flush Converter. This converter will turn your standard toilet into a dual flush model in minutes without the use of tools. Dual flush toilets allow users to select the amount of water that will be released into the bowl depending on the amount of waste, using on average 70 percent less water than standard models.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><strong>Let Mother Nature water your lawn</strong></p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Now that you’ve taken care of the interior of your home, it’s time to focus on the outside, specifically your lawn and garden. "Good lawn care means making sure your lawn receives around an inch of water a month," Manfredini says. "In the warmer months, you may want to increase this to two inches to make up for evaporation."</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">Instead of turning on the hose, many homeowners are now collecting rainwater and recycling it to keep their grass green. When choosing a rain barrel, select one that holds around 60 gallons of water, has a spigot on the exterior and is easy to install, like Fiskars Salsa Rain Barrel.</p>  <p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal">For more tips and advice on how to go green and save money, visit <a href="http://www.acehardware.com/helpfulearthchoices" target="_blank">www.acehardware.com/helpfulearthchoices</a>  or stop by your neighborhood Ace Hardware store.</p>  <p><span style="line-height: 200%; font-family: ‘Verdana’,’sans-serif’; letter-spacing: 1pt; font-size: 10pt">Courtesy of ARAcontent</span></p></span>