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Meghan Belnap posted a blog entry in Green Living BlogOwning your own home comes with plenty of responsibilities, not the least of which is ensuring that your home has as small of an impact on the environment as possible. This sounds great in principle, however, in practice, this can be a difficult goal to achieve. Here are a few tips to beginning a “green” lifestyle while still maintaining the lifestyle you currently enjoy. Upgrade Your Home on Time Your appliances and HVAC system use the majority of energy in your home. That’s why it’s so important to replace them using energy-efficient models when the old units break down. That’s the key, though. You need to wait until the old units are no longer operable before replacing them with new models. Sure, new models are likely to use less energy, however, the energy required to produce the new model and dispose of the old one will far outweigh any energy savings you gain through early replacement. Recycle It All Recycling is, of course, a great way to ensure that the materials you don’t need anymore do not fill up the landfill. What’s crucial with recycling, however, is to truly consider how to recycle all that you can, not just those materials that are “easy,” such as cardboard, glass, and aluminum. One category that can be more difficult is electronics. Since they contain so many precious metals as well as harmful materials, proper electronics recycling is absolutely crucial. Utilize a company such as Ranch Town Recycling Center Inc. that is trusted and works to keep all waste produced in the United States instead of shipping it off to contaminate another country. A Note about Pets Pets, for people of any age, can be wonderful to release stress, build responsibility, and provide many years of enjoyment. If you’re seeking to live “green,” however, the environmental cost of owning a pet must be considered. Whether it’s a dog whose food puts a big stress on food supplies and shipping resources or fish whose tank accessories are operating 24/7, pets can do more than their fair share of harm to the environment. Taking steps like buying locally-made dog food or utilizing a fish tank that can cycle itself without electricity are good ways to lessen the environmental impact of your pet while still retaining all the benefits of owning one. Turn off Those Lights Though we all know the importance of turning off lights when we leave a room, it’s a habit few of us actually practice. If you find yourself consistently unable to remember to flip the switch, consider investing in some automatic light switches that turn off after a period of inactivity in a room. These work especially great in areas that people don’t frequent, such as a bathroom or a basement, but where lights are still frequently left on. Reach out Though the impact of the steps you take in your own home is certainly important, the biggest change happens when others take notice of the changes you’re making and seek to make some changes themselves. Be open with those who ask and have the information handy to help them make changes in their own lives, as well. The cumulative effect of many people making changes will truly make a big impact on making the world a better place.