Despite all the media attention, buying well-made, affordable products that are also environmentally sound is still a difficult task. Kiplinger’s “Shopping Guide to Eco-Friendly Products” offers several suggestions to help you buy green and get a solid deal on major appliances, lawn care, building supplies, and home maintenance.
For washing machines, they recommend a few Kenmore and Bosch models. None are cheap, but if energy costs remain high, the prices start to look a lot more reasonable when your new washer is 60% more efficient than older models. For toilets, replacing one “made between 1980 and 1994 and you could save as much as $90 a year.” If you have a natural-gas furnace that’s 15 years old, you can see huge savings (“about $32 per $100 of annual fuel costs”) if you spend the extra $1000 for a new one that’s 95% efficient.
They also suggest looking at VOC-free interior paints like Yolo Colorhouse. VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, contribute to smog and can also aggravate allergies or respiratory ailments. And if you’re looking to replace any countertops, you can check out a few brands made from recycled materials, like IceStone or PaperStone (see article for more information).