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What I am especially concerned with here are the electricity hogs that keep us burning coal. The hungriest devices are the ones that heat and cool our homes (which account for 25 percent of the energy used), warm our water (6.5 percent) and light up our lives (about 6 percent).

I had already swapped out my incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescents and turned down my thermostat. Changing the temperature in your home is made significantly easier by getting a programmable device. I consulted the Consumer Reports Greener Choices website and went with a mercury-free Lux thermostat . I could never have expected salivating over a thermostat or rope caulk— Frost King is a good first resource when it comes to weather-stripping—until I became a homeowner. Nor could I have fathomed that high-efficiency appliances would make my mouth water. Well, they do.

My first big appliance purchase was a Bosch dishwasher on clearance at Sears . I was raised on Sears, and they will continue to factor into my story going forward. So much so, I used to joke about my "Sears boyfriend" Zack when I first started my homeowner journey.

Bosch was another deliberate choice. Not only because of the rave reviews from all my design-minded friends, but because of the longevity of their products. I want energy heifers, not energy hogs. Bosch was also my choice for a washer and dryer because they offer some of the most energy- and water-efficient front-loading washers on the market. Front loaders, on the whole, are more efficient than top-loaders. My washer and dryer have eco-action features that extend the time but reduce the temperature of my loads—thus using 20 percent less energy, according to Bosch. What I find especially encouraging is that the company has started to consider the energy generated over the entire life cycle of its products—from manufacturing and shipping all the way to disposal.

These items are not cheap. I need and want them to last. And I want to support companies who share my concerns for people and the planet. With a little patience and knack for research, you can find the ones that resonate with you, too.

Simran

Simran Sethi is an award-winning journalist and associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications. For more information on Sethi, visit SimranSethi.com and follow her on Twitter @ simransethi .

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