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Two money-saving ideas for becoming eco-friendly in the new year



An increasing number of people are turning to recycling household water to irrigate their yards. “Greywater,” as it’s called, is gently-used water from bathtubs, showers and laundry that is recaptured and used. Recycling greywater for landscape irrigation saves water and money, replenishes local aquifers—and is now legal.

In 2010 the state of California rewrote building codes to allow residential greywater reuse. Systems typically save a household 10,000 to 50,000 gallons per year.

The simplest method involves a diverter valve that intercepts water before it gets to the sewer and redirects it out to a single spot in the landscape, where it infiltrates into the soil through wood-chip mulch.

More people, though, use a branched-drain system, which distributes greywater over multiple outlets and relies on gravity. Greywater is collected at one or more fixtures and is rerouted through a diverter valve in the crawl space or basement. In the yard, greywater flow is subdivided, irrigating up to eight mulch basins.

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Solar panels have come a long way in recent years—not just  in terms of power output—but also in general attractiveness. “Manufacturers are now making panels that are less obstructive,” says Amir Salahi, residential sales manager with Solar Optimum in Glendale.

Below is a trio of the latest and greatest offerings in solar paneling that’s efficient and nice-looking.

LG makes panels with the new “NEON” technology, which increases panel efficiency to 18.9%. This means more power per panel. “The LG 320 NEON has become popular in a short period of time. It offers a high efficiency while maintaining  competitive pricing—30% to 40% less expensive compared to similar panels with high efficiency,” says Amir.

Another option comes from Solar World, a U.S.-based manufacturer. “They’ve been in business for about 40 years with a good track record.” Amir recommends the SW280 model because it is economical.

SunPower, another American manufacturer, has the highest efficiency product (21%), and panels are long-lasting (45 years) due to their advanced technology. “But they are expensive when compared to LG and SW,” explains Amir. He says the SunPower panels are a good option for homes with a lot of shade or limited roof space.