The 40th anniversary of Earth Day was celebrated Thursday, reminding us of how far we've come — and how far we have to go. What can you do to make things better? Start with simple changes in the home, in the garden and on the road. Take a look at these money savers for greening your home. — Karen Deer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
. Fix faucet leaks: A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons a year.
. Seal drafty windows and doors: A home can lose about 50 percent of its heat or cool air through drafty windows and doors.
. Avoid running water: Turn water off while you brush your teeth.
. Say no to plastic: According to data released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2001, about 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide annually, and it can take months to hundreds of years for these bags to break down. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store.
. Use energy-efficient appliances: The average household can save up to $400 annually by using energy-efficient appliances.
. Replace lightbulbs: One fluorescent bulb can save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in six months.
. Start a compost pile: According to the EPA, 23 percent of U.S. waste materials sent to landfills, such as yard trimmings and leftover food, could be used as compost.
. Slow it down: Sticking to the speed limit and keeping tires property inflated can help increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
. Raise the thermostat: Households will save up to 3 percent per month in energy costs by raising the air conditioner thermostat for every degree above 72 degrees.
. Think before wrapping: Be creative and use newspaper, takeout menus, old calendars and wallpaper to wrap gifts.
. Make energy-efficient home improvements: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 extends, expands and simplifies the federal income tax credits for homeowners who make energy-efficiency home improvements. The law extends the consumer tax benefits through this year. To learn more about the homeowners credits, visit ase.org and type "tax credits" in the search box.
Sources: Tina Pepe, director of merchandising for the Company Store; EPA statistics; Kohl's; Andrea Woroch, consumer savings expert at PromotionalCodes.com; and the Alliance to Save Energy