We've had some fun along the way in having the thing built as "greenly" as possible. And I was pretty pleased with our progress! The house itself is Energy-Star certified, it appears that every bulb is fluorescent (I thought originally that only certain ones would be and that I'd have to replace the others, but that's not the case) , and we bought appliances with Energy-Star certification as well.
We dropped by Home Depot again recently (among one of many stops, now too numerous to recall their exact purpose) and I came across their Eco Options magazine. I'd previously posted about this little freebie that the offer throughout the store.
What it brought to my attention is that it's easy to focus on energy consumption and forget some of the other areas where one could be more efficient. And aside from a couple of Energy Star appliances, we hadn't given much thought to water consumption. So when we (finally) take possession, we plan at looking into a couple of options, both obvious and not-so-obvious.
From Eco Options, Spring 2007 edition:
Consider installing a faucet aerator and reduce the flow of water from your tap by 25% to 50%. Aerators are inexpensive, easy to install and come with either internal or external threads...
I love when they say "easy to install". They have no idea what a dumb-ass I am with these things. "Easy" is rather relative, isn't it?
Showerheads: Want to lower your electricity and water bill? Switch to a low-flo showerhead. They use less than 9.5 litres (2.5 gallons) of water per minute, compared to up to 30 litres (6 gallons) for older versions.
And lastly, attaching a rain barrel is another option.
This seems rather self-explanatory though the idea didn't jump out at us when we were discussing our plans. A barrel is attached to the eavestrough and collects water which can then be used for gardening, lawn care, etc. It's suggested to get one with a screen at the top to keep the creepy crawlies out.
Though I don't know how much a rain barrel costs, the aerator and shower head should be a small expense with potential long-term savings when matched with energy efficient clothes and dish washers.