Tips on Greening Your Dining Room

Celebrate Earth Day with ENERGY STAR Did you know that the energy used in the average house can cause about twice as much greenhouse gas emissions as the average car? With ENERGY STAR qualified products and practices for your home, you can save energy, money and help fight climate change all at the same time.

ENERGY STAR is a label from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that identifies a variety of energy-saving products in over 60 product categories, including appliances, lighting, office equipment, and consumer electronics. You can take a room-by-room tour of ENERGY STAR @home at www.energystar.gov/home to learn all the solutions you can make that will also make a difference for the environment this Earth Day.

Your dining room is a place to eat as well as a place to start winding down at the end of the day. When furnishing and decorating, look for options that can make your dining room both functional and comfortable. See the tips below for ways to save energy and money, and to help benefit your health and your well-being.

Natural Fiber RugsWalls and Flooring There are many environmentally friendly products to liven up your dining room walls. If you like the look and ease of latex paint, choose a no-VOC latex, which is mixable into almost any shade you desire. If you want to try an old-fashioned technique use milk paint, which you mix at home and is biodegradable and non-toxic. If you'd like to add some texture to your walls, consider plasters made from lime, gypsum, clay, and other naturally occurring ingredients. Finally, you could be bold and use an earth-friendly wallpaper or cork-based paper that is vinyl free. Look for paper backings and clay-based adhesives.

If you have a carpeted dining room, your existing carpet could be off-gassing chemicals from adhesives or PVC called phthalates. Replace your carpet with vinyl-free carpet or rugs manufactured using seagrass, wool, or other natural fibers. Install new carpet without adhesive and you won't have to air the house out for days after installation.

Thinking about new wood flooring? Be sure to use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood and environmentally-friendly low or no-VOC finishes. You may also want to consider cork or linoleum flooring options.

LightingENERGY STAR Lighting Fixtures Replace light fixtures or the bulbs in them with ENERGY STAR qualified lighting. Conventional chandeliers with many lights can be one of the highest wattage fixtures in the home. Look for ENERGY STAR qualified chandeliers, torchieres, ceiling-mounted and wall sconces. ENERGY STAR qualified lighting provides bright, warm light while using 75% less energy, generating 75% less heat and lasting up to 10 times longer than standard lighting.

ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) provide high-quality light output, use less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent light bulbs, saving money on energy bills and replacement costs. An even better solution is to use lower-wattage LED bulbs.

Air Quality, Heating and Cooling Environmentally-friendly changes and upgrades will significantly improve the air quality in your dining room. Make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling. These are common locations to find leaks and disconnected ductwork. All vents should be clear of any furniture or rugs to improve air flow and comfort. If your home has radiators, place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls. In the winter, this will help heat the room instead of the wall.

If replacing your sliding door, select ENERGY STAR qualified doors instead of regular clear-glass double-paned doors. You can save on energy costs while improving your comfort, cutting drafts, and reducing fading of interior furnishings. Apply caulking around door frames and weather-stripping around doors that do not close tightly.

Programmable Thermostat When used properly, a programmable thermostat with its four temperature settings can save about $180 a year in energy costs. Learn how to get this energy savings with ENERGY STAR's Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats. Make sure you have a clean high-quality filter installed in your furnace.

After you've finished making your dining room more energy efficient, keep it clean by vacuuming once a week with a HEPA vacuum, and shampoo periodically to keep your carpets and rugs clean and allergen-free. Polish the dining table and chairs with an eco-friendly cleaner.

On nice days, open any windows to circulate the air. Houseplants help to filter the air and liven up your room.Remember to always turn off your lights when leaving a room. Turning off just one 60-watt incandescent bulb that would otherwise burn eight hours a day can save about $15 per year!