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Issue Date: February 2007

Energy Force

Leading a more environmentally friendly lifestyle can reap benefits for your health and your pocketbook.
Kristen Hampshire
Feeling a bit under the weather and not sure why? That new carpet smell or even the dryer sheets you toss into your laundry could be the culprits. Or perhaps the biggest pain is in your pocketbook, after shelling out for energy bills that make you want to run for Amish country.

“When people think of going green or adopting a more sustainable lifestyle, the first things they think of are insulation and greener products — materials that are recycled or don’t offgas chemicals,” says Erika Weliczko, president of REpower Solutions, which designs and installs solar and wind electric systems and conducts energy ratings to help homeowners find the costly holes in their homes.

“People have no idea just how loaded with chemicals their homes are,” adds Rebecca Reynolds, a North Olmsted mother who founded Green Clean after learning the solutions she thought were sanitizing her home were actually polluting it.

When Reynolds took inventory of her cabinets, she found an arsenal of cleaning products with “warning” and “danger” on the labels. Dryer sheets contain formaldehyde. Shower sprays are loaded with chlorine bleach (“one of the most toxic products out there,” she says).

So where should you start if you want to green up your home — and what is “green,” exactly?

The Cleveland Green Building Coalition describes the concept as constructing a living space so there is little or no harm done to the natural environment or residents. From building practices to effective natural lighting, efficient heating and cooling, and nontoxic interior surfaces, sustainable building is about living with conscience.

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