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Living room

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  • Some learning thermostats offer additional features, and there are rapid developments in technologies to integrate with phones and mobile devices.
  • Always use the features of your thermostat, whichever type it is, to match your schedule.
  • Learn how to “set back” your thermostat – a savings strategy for when you’re away for long periods or at night. This may not be appropriate for heat pumps, so check with your heating contractor.
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  • Pay attention to local burn bans, and do not use your fireplace or wood stove when one is in effect.
  • Wood-burning fireplaces contribute to poor indoor and outdoor air quality, and are the least efficient way to heat your home; 90 percent of the wood’s heat goes up the stack.
  • If you choose to build a new masonry fireplace, build a Rumford style fireplace. These high performance fireplaces produce lower emissions. Some models meet the EPA’s Phase II stove emission rate and are approved by Washington State’s Department of Ecology fireplace standard. Rumford fireplaces are also much more wood efficient due to their design.
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Home electronics

Consumer electronic products are responsible for about 15 percent of household electricity use. These plug loads, or phantom loads, are the fastest growing segment of residential energy use. And a good portion of your electric bill may be from phantom power – electronics and gadgets that are turned off but still draw electricity.

  • Survey your home for phantom loads – look for anything with a clock, remote, power adapter on the wall, electronic power switches, an electronic key pad, IT peripherals, coffee makers, and multimedia or communications equipment. Plug your electronics, chargers and power adapters into power strips, and turn off the strips when products are not in use.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR label when purchasing home electronics such as TVs, cable boxes, computer & networking equipment to ensure you are getting a more energy-efficient model. For example, ENERGY STAR qualified TVs use about 30% less energy than standard units.
  • Typical U.S. households spend $100 per year to power devices while they are in "standby" power mode. ENERGY STAR qualified products use less energy to perform these functions.

Carbon monoxide detector

CO detectors warn residents when CO levels reach unhealthy levels. They are inexpensive and relatively easy to install.

  • Install CO detectors on every level of the house that has a fuel-burning appliance. Because CO gas distributes evenly in air, it is best to install the detector between 5 and 6 feet high on the wall where it is most likely to be seen. Place the detector at least 6 feet away from the fuel-burning appliance.
  • CO detectors should be replaced every 3 to 5 years depending on the life of the sensor. Most sensors do not sound an alarm until CO levels reach levels well above the EPA’s limit of 9 ppm. More expensive detector models will detect lower levels of CO and help prevent the health hazards from prolonged exposure to CO.
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Heating, cooling, ventilation

Ductless heat pumps

  • Ductless mini-split heat pumps are two to three times as efficient as electric resistance heat and also provide highly efficient cooling and are easy to install.
  • Ductless mini-split heat pumps do a better job of distributing warm or cool air around a home than electric baseboard or electric wall heaters, thus making living areas more comfortable.
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Living room paints and coatings

  • Select clay plaster as an alternative to paint to create a rich, natural texture. It is breathable, mold- resistant, hypo-allergenic and low-toxic.
  • Choose low-toxic, low-VOC or zero-VOC paints since they are safer to handle, easier to clean up and emit fewer fumes as they dry.
  • Using lighter-colored paints is a strategy to reduce artificial lighting needs, and therefore cut down on your lighting energy use.
  • View more Eco-Cool Remodel paints and coatings resources

Living room flooring

  • For best air quality, you may want to avoid carpets altogether and choose wood, natural linoleum or cork.
  • If considering carpet, look for carpet, padding and adhesives that are labeled as emitting less volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Natural fiber carpets, such as wool or jute, are typically better for indoor air quality.
  • Consider carpet tiles that don't require adhesives; worn or stained tiles can be replaced individually.
  • Choose low-pile carpet to minimize allergens such as pet hair and dust.
  • Look for recycled-content flooring products.
  • View more Eco-Cool Remodel flooring resources

Living room lighting

Additional resources

Carbon monoxide detector

Green Materials


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