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Green Homes Uncategorized

Eco-Friendly Houses Are Expensive, and 4 Other Green Home Myths You Should Stop Believing

PRImageFactory/Getty Images

Have you ever dreamed of buying a bit of land and building your very own green home on it? Maybe you’re already invested in a property, and are just looking for a way to make it a little more Earth-friendly.

Going green, and doing it well, might be a whole lot easier than you think—which is why we’re here to debunk the biggest, baddest myths about green homes. Here are the top five misconceptions about green homes that you should stop believing immediately.

1. Only new houses can be green

While you can go all out building the most eco-friendly Earthship your neighborhood has ever seen, you could also just make a few subtle changes to your existing property.

“Helping the environment doesn’t have to mean building an entirely new, expensive green home,” says Craig Ricks Jr., president of Acadian Windows and Siding.https://b2c-banner.marketing.moveaws.com/welcome/banner/WSJ/wsj300x450.php

“It’s possible to renovate an existing home to become greener, such as by altering the wiring and plumbing.”

You can also go green in your existing home by installing low-emissivity (“low E”) windows, reinsulating the house, or even just purchasing more energy-efficient appliances (like those made by Energy Star), Ricks says.

2. Green homes are too expensive

We’d bet our next stimulus check you’ve heard this one before.

“One of the biggest myths and misconceptions about green building and eco-friendly construction is that it’s too expensive to be truly scalable,” says RJ D’Angelo, owner of JWE Remodeling & Roofing. “This is untrue.”

In fact, if you want to save on your home energy costs, you can start right away, with small steps that reduce your carbon footprint, D’Angelo says, rather than building a brand-new home with the latest cutting-edge advancements in green building technology.

Among those incremental steps: Upgrade your roofing system to something with recycled metal that reflects the sun’s heat, D’Angelo suggests.

“This, coupled with a properly insulated attic and thoroughly ventilated roof structure, can reduce a home’s heating and cooling expenditure by as much as 34%,” he says.

3. Sustainable homes are ugly

There’s no rule that says sustainable homes have to look a certain way—and they definitely don’t have to be ugly.

“There are so many delightful, well-planned, and well-considered sustainable homes—from adorable and modern tiny houses to net-zero luxury homes,” says Matt Daigle, CEO and founder of Rise, a leading online authority in sustainable home improvement.

4. Going green means going off the grid

When people think about going green, they have a tendency to imagine the extremes—as in, wearing handmade clothing and living in a recycled shack with a bunch of goats. In reality? It’s a lot less intense than that.

“A sustainable home can be accomplished without going off grid,” explains Daigle.

He cites solar panels and recycled-water systems as two ways that modern homeowners can get in on the sustainable-living lifestyle—minus the farm animals.

“Sustainable homes aren’t off-grid houses that rely solely on their own power and resources,” he says. “These homeowners just enjoy lower energy and water bills as a result of their sustainable practices.”

5. It’s hard to make your home eco-friendly

As you’re probably starting to realize, going green doesn’t have to be complicated. And while more and more companies are coming out with sustainable building products and designs, there’s an even easier way to make your place green—and it starts in the garden.

“There are so many simple actions any homeowner can take to make their home more environmentally friendly,” says Cassy Aoyagi, board member of the leading L.A. chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Try replacing annual foliage with native perennials, watering less, eliminating pesticides and fertilizers, or even just reducing the size of your lawn, which tends to require extra chemicals and water consumption.

Looking for more tips on going green? We’ve got the ultimate guide to owning a more eco-friendly home.

Posted by Larissa Runkle on realtor.com

Ready to buy or sell your next home? Contact us today to get started!

Categories
For Homeowners

It is time to Air Out that House for Better Air Quality

Summer is coming to a close and air conditioning is no longer needed. But before we head into winter, when we close up our windows and turn on our heat, we have some time to air out our homes and get them smelling fresh and clean. Opening your windows and airing out your home can improve the air quality in your home. Along with these other tips you can have a fall filled with freshness.

Clean your Home

Air quality is also dependent upon a clean house. Cleaning your floors and vacuuming your carpets will remove the dirt from the areas. Dusting your furniture and your ceiling fans will remove the dust that can build up and cause pollutants in your air, so dust your home at least once a week. Remember to remove dust from baseboards or wainscoating along walls. These areas can trap dust along their edges.

Add Plants to your Home

Plants take in our carbon monoxide and release oxygen which adds to a healthy environment. Many plants are low maintenance and can also add color and texture to a room. Plants can easily be incorporated into the design elements of your home.

Remove the Spray Air Fresheners

Air fresheners create a scent that may appeal to you, but they create more pollutants into a home. Try using natural air fresheners like boiling spices and fruit on your stovetop or using herbs and placing them in bowls around your home. Flavors can be mixed with a variety of herbs and dried fruits or using extracts. In addition to removing air fresheners, limit the aerosol products you use in your home. Limit the cleaning products and the personal hygiene products to keep your home fresh.

Change your Air Filters

Changing your air filters every three to four months can help improve your air quality in your home. Fall is a perfect time to start fresh with a new air filter. This is a simple task that cost a few dollars and a few minutes of your time.

Air Purifiers

Keeping a bit of humidity in your home and using air purifiers can also keep your home fresh. Air purifiers can be purchased and used independently in each room or you can call your air conditioning service provider to add a purifier to your system. Having an air purifier attached to your HVAC system requires that your use your air conditioning or heating units. If you are in place where you do not want to use your HVAC system, then using air purifiers in your home may work better for you.

Fall is a great time to refresh your home and try some new techniques to keep your home’s air quality pure.

Posted by HomeZada

Categories
Interior Design

Make a Small Home Office Feel Bigger With These Tips

Working in a small claustrophobic space can be quite depressing and far from inspiring. However, most of us are not so lucky to be working in an enormous office full of light, so we try to make the most of what we have. How can we redesign our office space so that it seems bigger and brighter without demolishing a few walls or moving to a completely different place? Here are a few tips you can use to change your working environment so that you feel happier and more satisfied.

As White As Light

The first thing you have to think about is your background. In order for it to seem bigger, it has to be light, so make sure that you surround yourself with as much white as possible. As it reflects light, it will illuminate even those spaces that do not have enough or even any windows that would allow natural light inside. White has a calming effect on people, but if it feels a little bit cold to you, it is possible to incorporate a few details in brighter colors, but keep them minimal and not in more than two shades.

Curtainless Windows

When you think about your small office design and what are some of the decorative items you can put in it to make it more personal, avoid using curtains on your windows. As they barely let enough light as it is, closing them up will do you no good. However, if you still feel the need to cover the glass with something from time to time, shades are definitely a better choice.

Only the Most Essential

Whether you are redesigning your office in a company building or your home office, try not to go overboard with the amount of furniture items, especially some larger ones that take up too much space. Now, when you think about an office, you immediately imagine large computer desk and a big comfortable chair, but is it really necessary? Lately, standing desks have become much more popular, not only because they open up the room, but they also proved to be beneficial for your health.

No Hoarding Please

Nothing makes a room look smaller than all the clutter that you never find the time to clean up. So pick up the trash bin and start with throwing all the things that you do not need: old documents, pens that do not work anymore, and put everything else in its place. You will notice just how much bigger your desk looks, and the entire office will seem more spacious at the same time.

Perks of the 21st Century

Finally, the good thing is that that we are living in a digital age so you can save all of your important documents without using large filing cabinets. You can have them all on your computer, tablet or an USB stick, and not only does it save you a lot of office space, this way it will be much easier for you to manage all the important paperwork.

Working in a small and depressing office can affect the pace, as well as the quality of your work in an extremely negative way. If you are not comfortable in it and you feel like it is suffocating, do not get devastated, as there are numerous ways in which you can make it look bigger, happier and more inspirational.

Posted by Lana Hawkins on HomeZada

Categories
Unique Homes

Comparing Cultures: Homes from Around the World

Granite countertops, outdoor kitchens, remodeled bathrooms – we all know there’s a certain art to real estate. Just like here in America, a country’s culture directly affects the look, feel and styles of homes from all over the world. Even in locations such as Indonesia, Cameroon and the Artic, there are always cultural reasons behind the architecture and why homes are made in a particular fashion. For example, Tulou Houses from China were traditionally built in a circle formation to form a defensive village.

The following infographic from Able Skills compares homes like tipis and igloos to residences like the sukiya-zukuri in Japan and the inkajijik houses of Kenya. Take the fastest trip around the world with the information below:

Posted by Housecall

Categories
For Homeowners

Everything You Need To Know About Cooling Your Home

Chilling out this summer will be a breeze with these tips for getting the most out of your air conditioner and fans.

Summer may be lazy and hazy, but in many areas of the country, it’s also a time of sweating and sweltering in scorching temperatures. To cope, homeowners employ a variety of methods to ensure a steady supply of cool, fresh air.

These cooling solutions include a wide variety of fans and in-home ventilation systems as well as some tried-and-true techniques from the days before air conditioning. Here’s how to keep your whole home cool this season.

The dog is cooling down with the fan while watching the yellow ribbons in motion. Depth of field in eyes line and center of the fan.; Shutterstock ID 211241179; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post
The dog is cooling down with the fan while watching the yellow ribbons in motion. Depth of field in eyes line and center of the fan.; Shutterstock ID 211241179; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

The advent of air conditioners

By far the most common form of cooling in the United States is air conditioning, which can be found in more than 88 percent of new single-family homes constructed today. Keeping the house comfortable this way, however, can be a costly investment in terms of both equipment and energy use — we’re talking an average $400 household electric bill from June to August. So it makes good sense to carefully evaluate your home’s cooling options to select the right system to meet your needs.

Keeping comfortable and cost-friendly

No matter what unit or system you choose, how you adjust your thermostat determines your ultimate savings on your electric bill. Start by setting the temperature as high as is still comfortable, keeping the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures as small as possible.

Take advantage of the “energy saver” mode on window units, and use programmable thermostats for multiroom or whole-house systems so your machines don’t do extra work to cool the place when nobody is home.

When you’re ready to cool down, don’t drop immediately to an extremely cold temperature — starting that low won’t speed up the cooling process, but it will make your machine work harder and expend more energy.

If you want to offer your machine — and your energy bills — a little relief, proper ventilation in your home can certainly aid your cool-down efforts. Ventilation improves indoor air quality, removes moisture and odors, and allows fresh, cool outside breezes to be exchanged for stuffy indoor air.

Start boosting your home’s natural ventilation simply by opening doors and windows, especially in the evenings. Encourage airflow by installing ceiling fans, window fans, and attic exhaust fans to push hot air outside and draw cooler air into your home.

In the summer months, ceiling fans should be set to run in a counterclockwise direction, drawing cooler air up from the floor. A whole-house attic exhaust fan will pull hot air into the attic, where attic vents can dissipate the heat. Even positioning a few portable fans near windows or a basement door at night can draw the cooler air from these areas into the home.

Regular maintenance for maximum cool down

With a variety of cooling practices in place, you’ll want to maximize the efficiency of your efforts by performing proper maintenance.

  • Seal the deal. Make sure you have adequate insulation in the walls and ceilings to keep hot air out and cool air in. Caulk leaking windows and doors, and use draft “snakes” to cover the gaps at the bottom of these entry points. Adding aluminum blinds,insulated curtains, or window tint film can block even more sunlight from entering your home and heating up the place during the day.
  • Change your filter. This quick and easy chore reduces the burden on your air conditioner, improves indoor air quality, and helps you — and your air conditioner — breathe easier. Check the filter once a month and clean out any dust particles that might clog the system, forcing it to work harder and waste energy.
  • Clean the coils. An air conditioner’s coils and fins on the outside of the unit should be kept unobstructed and cleaned regularly. Use a soft-bristle nylon brush to gently remove any debris, and hose off any leaves or caked-on dirt. Clean the inside coils using the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner, or wipe down with a soft, damp cloth.
  • Call in a pro. Even though much of keeping your home cool can be considered do-it-yourself work, it is still important to call in a reputable HVAC contractor regularly. An annual system tune-up can help ensure that your air conditioning system is working efficiently and will go a long way toward prolonging the useful life of the components.

Posted by BobVila.com

 

Categories
Summer

Pick Your Favorite Party-Ready Pool

Which of these professional pool designs is your ideal escape from the summer heat?

With temperatures rising as summer begins, a refreshing dip in a cool pool is at the top of most folks’ lists. Do you daydream about your ideal backyard oasis with a crystal blue pool and stylish lounge chairs? Zillow compared six gorgeous outdoor pools from professionals on Zillow Digs™ to find the leading pool design for the season.

Which pool is best primed for a party? The hard part is choosing just one. Get your vote in now and check back to see the winner on July 1, 2015.

Modern or Mediterranean luxury

If luxury designs with maximum privacy and all the high-end additions are right up your alley, check out these pools. The modern pool designs include geometric-shaped patios, fountains, outdoor kitchens and hot tubs. For something warmer, Mediterranean swimming pools offer elegant designs using a mix of earth-toned stone structures and extravagant features like fireplaces and built-in fire pits.

Traditional garden grandeur

Not into that celebrity look? Select a favorite from these peaceful, garden-forward designs. The lush green plantings accent the crisp blue water perfectly. Each includes a water feature and poolside patio with lounge chairs. Surrounding most traditional pool designs you’ll find pergola or trellis structures to support climbing vines with colorful blooms.

Tropical pool paradise

Alternatively, feel right at home in the summer heat alongside one of these tropical pools. Both boast palm trees and other tropical vegetation. Notice the curved pools common with this design. Enjoy tropical layouts on warm summer evenings with lighting features such as tiki torches, pathway lamps and built-in fixtures. Is one of these your dream pool?

Posted by Tali Wee on Zillow
Categories
Green Homes

Eco-Friendly Home Updates That Save You Green

Invest in home improvements that benefit the environment (and your budget) year-round.

banknote house icon concept; Shutterstock ID 99611015; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post
banknote house icon concept; Shutterstock ID 99611015; PO: Cat Overman; Job: blog post

Each year, Americans save billions of dollars by employing energy-saving measures and investing in energy-efficient homes. Some upgrades — like Energy Star appliances, new hot water heaters, or geothermal pumps — can be pricey upfront, but there are plenty of small, inexpensive updates that will make a big difference in your budget over time. Here are some places to start.

Go low-flow

Thousands of gallons of water go down the drain every day. Toilet flushing and showering are the two biggest culprits. One solution is to upgrade your home’s plumbing fixtures so you use less water to accomplish the same task.

Low-flow fixtures, which are both inexpensive and easy to install, can reduce your home water consumption by as much as 50 percent, and save you up to $145 a year on electricity, according to Energy Star.

Insulate, insulate, insulate

Upgrading your home with energy-efficient insulation is one of the quickest energy payback projects you can undertake. If your house doesn’t have enough insulation (and many homes don’t, especially those built before 1980), bringing it up to current standards will not only make it more comfortable all year long, but you’ll save money — anywhere from 10 to 50 percent on your heating and cooling bills.

Consult the Department of Energy’s ZIP code specific recommendations for the right amount of insulation for your climate.

Use compact fluorescent light bulbs

Yes, fluorescent bulbs are more expensive that regular bulbs, but each bulb can save up to $40 over the lifetime of the bulb, and they last 10 times longer than conventional bulbs.

Install a programmable thermostat

Did you know that the average household spends about $2,000 annually on energy bills, and that close to half that figure can be attributed to heating and cooling?

Enter the programmable thermostat. When used properly (don’t be intimidated!), this little gadget, which you reset when you’re asleep or away from your home, can pay for itself in a matter of months. Annually, you’re looking at saving up to $150 or more.

Posted by Vera Gibbons on Zillow

 

Categories
Tiny Homes

Living Large in Small Spaces: 10 Homes for Sale Under 500 Square Feet

Tiny footprints can hold worlds of charm — and sometimes acreage or an island.

Five hundred square feet might not sound like much, but as rents clearly show, in some markets that’s a coveted amount of real estate. In other places, it’s plenty of space to rest your head and grab a bite after a day in the woods or on the water. And in many areas, it’s the right size for a reasonable mortgage.

Here’s how it looks to live in 500 or fewer square feet around the country:

Lahaina, HI

3543 Lower Honoapiilani Rd #D206, Lahaina, HI
For sale: $365,500
Size: 454 square feet

This studio offers rich living on a budget in Maui — complete with the use of two pools, two clubhouses, two Jacuzzis and two putting greens, all surrounded by lush landscaping.

See more listings in Lahaina.

Boston, MA

12 Melrose St APT 3, Boston, MA
For sale: $379,000
Size: 415 square feet

Just steps from Boston Common, this 1-bedroom, 1-bath home has hardwood floors, a sunny kitchen and a private deck.

View more homes for sale in Boston, MA.

Semora, NC

186 Munday Oakley Rd, Semora, NC
For sale: $380,000
Size: 500 square feet

More than 200 feet of lakeshore and a two-slip boat dock come with this cottage near the North Carolina-Virginia border. The home’s large windows offer views of the lake and 1-acre lot.

See more homes on the market in Semora, NC.

Crawford, CO

38618 Fruitland Mesa Rd, Crawford, CO
For sale: $329,000
Size: 468 square feet

The great wide open beckons to whoever sleeps in this 468-square-foot cabin on the edge of a canyon between Aspen and Telluride. Situated on 40 acres amid mountains and valleys, the home features an aspen tongue-and-groove ceiling, built-in bookcases and electricity from charged batteries. There’s no bathroom, but a quaint outhouse was just built.

Check out more homes listed in Crawford, CO.

Camano Island, WA

3181 Shoreline Dr, Camano Island, WA
For sale: $424,500
Size: 336 square feet

This beach cottage is being marketed alongside its vacation rental revenue stream. Three sets of French doors open onto two decks and an island beach. It’s been rebuilt with a new roof, plumbing and wiring.

View more listings on Camano Island, WA.

Angola, IN

N 700 E, Angola, IN
For sale: $395,000
Size: 288 square feet

This treehouse with electricity, hot and cold running water and a wood-burning stove sits on nearly 44 acres in rural Indiana, alongside a 2-acre pond, a cottage that sleeps three and a large shed “for all the toys you could possibly need,” the listing promises.

See more homes for sale in Angola, IN.

Annandale, MN

5622 Quinlar Ave NW, Annandale, MN
For sale: $229,000
Size: 432 square feet

This lakeshore cabin in the Land of 10,000 Lakes retains all the charm of the 1930s, when it was built. Stretching along 50 feet of lakeshore, it includes a dock and a small, sandy strip of beach for relaxing around the fire pit.

See more homes on the market in Annandale, MN.

New Orleans, LA

715 Royal St APT H, New Orleans, LA
For sale: $249,000
Size: 192 square feet

Own your own hotel room! This 1-bedroom, 1-bath home in the French Quarter features 19th-century pine floors, antique fixtures, a loft and a marble bath.

Check out what else is listed in New Orleans, LA.

Tuftonboro, NH

1 Windswept, Tuftonboro, NH
For sale: $329,000
Size: 340 square feet

Here’s a tiny home that comes with its own island on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee — try saying that two times fast. Once owned by Bob Montana, the creator of the “Archie” comic series, it’s a one-room cedar cottage with a large, stone fireplace.

View more homes for sale in Tuftonboro, NH.

Wilbraham, MA

10 1/2 Springfield St, Wilbraham, MA
For sale: $475,000
Size: 480 square feet

The barn on this property outside Springfield, MA, is more than three times larger than the cottage, and there’s a detached, 2-car garage.

See what else is on the market in Wilbraham, MA.

Originally published by Melissa Allison on Zillow Blog.

Categories
For Homeowners Green Homes

How to Cool a Home (And Save the Planet While You’re At It!)

These tips can help you cool your home without burning a lot of excess energy.

HowToCoolAHomeKeeping your home cool is easy when you blast your air conditioner all day. If you want to keep your home cool while saving the planet, though, you have to consider alternatives to reduce wastefulness.

Use Blinds to Block the Sun

Direct sunlight will make your home hotter. By keeping your blinds closed, you prevent those rays from coming inside. You’ll get the best results from closing the blinds tightly with the opening facing up.

Use Ceiling Fans Properly

Most ceilings fans have summer and winter settings. The winter setting moves the blades clockwise to push cold air to the ceiling while pulling warm air down. During the summer, set your fan to move counter-clockwise. This will create a better breeze that cools the room and helps sweat evaporate so your body stays cooler.

Change Your Air Filter Once a Month

Air filters prevent debris from circulating through your home. If those filters get too dirty, they make it harder for your air conditioner to do its job. That means it stays on longer and uses more electricity. You can cut about one to two percent off your energy bill by replacing your filters once a month during the summer.

Use Solar Windows

You don’t have to avoid solar panels just because you think they look ugly. Solar windows offer a new option that will help you cool your home without pulling more energy from the grid.

Solar windows create electricity from the sunlight that shines through them. You can then use the electricity to power your home.

Companies are working on a variety of solar window products, including those made for commercial and residential properties. If you don’t want to purchase new windows for your home, you can get a clear solar window film that attaches to your window.

Use a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat makes it easy to keep your home comfortable without burning excess energy. For instance, you can program the thermostat to let the indoor temperature get warmer during the day while you’re at work. An hour before you come home, the thermostat will adjust to a more pleasant temperature. You won’t even notice that your AC isn’t running all day. That could save you $65 to $100 by the end of summer.

Place Plants Strategically

Knowing where to place plants outside can lower the amount of energy you use by controlling the temperature inside your home.

If possible, plant deciduous trees on your home’s west and south sides. Three strategically placed trees could help you save up to $250 a year.

You will also use less energy by plating shrubs that give your AC unit some shade. Those that operate in shaded areas use less energy cooling homes. Make sure the plants won’t clog the unit when they drop their leaves in fall.

What other eco-friendly methods do you use to keep your home cool while protecting the environment?

This article appeared on Trulia Blog.

 

Categories
Gardening Green Homes

The Truth About Organic Home Remedies for Your Lawn

We might love the idea of maintaining our lawns with nontoxic pantry items—soda, vinegar, and dish detergent—that help keep pesticides and other chemicals out of the environment while saving us a little money.

SolStock/iStock
SolStock/iStock

But do these home remedies really work as organic alternatives to traditional pesticides? And if so, do they really save money?

Not so much, say turf professors and pros.

“I wouldn’t waste my time,” says John Boyd, a University of Arkansas professor of weed science. “You can kill a weed with vinegar—in the better neighborhoods they use balsamic. But it’s not all that effective or cost-efficient.”

Also, home remedies—especially bug-killing concoctions—don’t have the same precision and accountability of store-bought lawn care products.

“They’re not labeled as pesticides, and have not been through any review or screening process,” says Dan Gilrein, an entomologist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County in New York. “Materials may not be as benign as assumed—particularly when not used as intended.”

So are organic home remedies for lawn care a waste of time and money? Some are; some aren’t. Below, we break it down for you.

Boiling water

Reputation: Weed killer

Reality: Undoubtedly, dumping boiling water on a weed will scald and kill some shallow-rooted, annual weeds, like chickweed. But it won’t wipe out the deep roots of perennial weeds, like dandelions, unless you repeat it for days.

What’s more, the boiling water treatment is nonselective; not only can you scald yourself, but you can also kill grass and prized plants around the weed, says Craig Jenkins-Sutton of Topiarious Urban Gardens in Chicago.

Cost: How much is your time worth? By the time you boil the water, run it out to the garden before it cools, and carefully dump it on unwanted weeds, you could have grabbed a good weeder and dug up a garden full of dandelions—and those won’t come back.

Vinegar

Reputation: Weed killer

Reality: Acetic acid is a good general herbicide that sucks water from common weeds. But most pantry vinegar has only a 5% acetic acid concentration—too weak to kill all but the most tender, annual weeds. Perennial weeds—fuggedaboutit!

If you want to kill weeds with vinegar, you’ll need a commercial solution that’s 20% acetic acid. It’ll suck weeds dry, but will also dry out your prized plants, so be careful when spraying.

Cost: Distilled white vinegar: $2.40/gallon; commercial vinegar: $33/gallon. (Note: Diluting it 1:1 with water will give you twice the amount of vinegar at a high concentration.)

Dish detergent

Reputation: Insecticide

Reality:
The Iowa State University Extension says it’s OK to use dish detergent, like Ivory or Palmolive, to kill soft-body insects, such as aphids, scales, and whiteflies. The soap destroys the waxy shell that protects the bugs, causing them to desiccate (dry up).

In a spray bottle, combine 1 tablespoon of dish detergent with 1 quart of water. Then thoroughly saturate the infected plants to completely wet the insects you want to kill.

One problem with dish soap, however, is that it can kill plants along with the insects. That’s where commercial insecticidal soaps have the advantage. Their formulas usually have a stabilizing agent that helps prevent the soap from damaging plants. Of course, you pay more for that formula.

Cost: Palmolive dish washing liquid: $3.30/10 oz.; Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap spray: $6.40/24 oz.

Soda and beer

Reputation: Fertilizer that greens-up lawns

Reality:
Home remedy guides say beer and soda contain carbohydrates and phosphorous, which feed lawns. Turf scientists, however, say that grass makes its own carbs from photosynthesis, and that soil generally has all the phosphorous a healthy lawn needs. Actually, phosphorous runoff is a watershed pollutant, and some municipalities are banning commercial fertilizers that contain phosphorous.

Spraying flat cola or beer on your lawn essentially just waters the grass, which can help it turn green.

Cost: Six 16-oz. cans of Bud: $7.80 (enough for a 10-by-20-ft. lawn)

So what’s a greenish lawn-owner to do?

First, know this: Lawns suck up more water than any other irrigated crop in the U.S.—so their very existence, arguably, is eco-unfriendly. If you’re dedicated to protecting life on Earth, replace your lawn with indigenous, drought-resistant plants or artificial turf.

Still, you might think life on Earth isn’t worth living unless you can wiggle your toes through cool fescue that’s not covered with toxic chemicals. If so, here’s some advice:

  • You’ll have to devote yourself to precisely mowing (with a push mower, if you want to be green), watering (deeply and less often), and fertilizing (with nutrient-rich compost). Diligent lawn care will keep out weeds naturally and promote beneficial insects that will eat the ones you don’t want.
  • Forget the idea of lawn perfection. Without chemicals, a few weeds will grow and some patches will turn yellow.
  • Spend a few extra bucks and buy organic lawn products that take the guesswork out of applying nontoxic solutions.

This story was written by Lisa Kaplan Gordon and originally appeared on HouseLogic.com.