As you make out your list of New Year's resolutions, consider including some healthful changes for your home.
Lowering your utility bill a bit each month would be a good thing, right? One sure way to do that is to purchase appliances that are Energy Star rated. With Energy Star appliances, your home's overall value will increase in two ways. Your house will be worth more because you have newer appliances. And the new appliances will use less energy, so if you ever put your home on the market these will be selling points that may give you an edge.
You probably won't be able to replace all your appliances, including the air conditioning unit, all at once. But slowly, over time, replacing the appliances with Energy Star rated ones will be a good choice.
Front-load washers use less water, and dishwashers with a light and normal cycle choice give you flexibility for their water use.
As for refrigerator/freezer combinations, if there is enough space in the kitchen, the best choice is separate units. A big kitchen might have space for a separate beverage/snack refrigerator. Some of these are available in drawer style. The advantage there is that the smaller beverage/snack fridge will be used more, and the bigger appliance opened less often, so energy won't be lost as much.
Remember those in-the-wall air conditioners? Well, some homes still have them. If yours is one of those homes, surround it with Plexiglas to help limit the air seeping.
Here is one thing many of us don't think of. Small, countertop appliances can seep energy even when not in use. If they have built-in digital clocks or timers, they are using energy. You must have that coffee ready first thing in the morning, so perhaps you should leave that one plugged in, but other, less-used small appliances should be unplugged when not in use.
Putting all the small appliances other than the coffee maker and the microwave on a master switch will make that job easier. Switch them on in the morning, and off at night when they won't be used.
Happy New Year!
Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of "Mystery of Color."