Perhaps because big, LEED-certified houses with the latest techy gadgets for energy-efficiency seem to get all the press, people often think that greening the home’s a very expensive endeavor best put off until — well, at least until the economy improves.

But National Geographic’s new green living book shows there’s lots that anyone can do to green the home — and that most home-greening tactics will actually save you money, not drain your pockets. Indeed, True Green Home: 100 Inspirational Ideas for Creating a Green Environment at Home illustrates that you needn’t start from scratch with an expensive LEED-certified architect to make your living space a green haven.

Written by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin, True Green Home’s organization is simple: You get 100 ideas — one idea per page, each illustrated with a beautiful photo — for making your home a little more eco-friendly. Many ideas involve getting things for free from nature, whether its free water for your garden in a rain barrel, free drying for your laundry via a clothesline, or free home cooling from a shady tree.

For DIY enthusiasts, True Green Home provides general directions for making eco air fresheners, cleaning products, and fertilizers — and getting greener products while saving green too. Then there are the tips for saving money over the long term by opting for quality products that are energy efficient and/or long-lasting. True Green Home emphasizes the financial and environmental benefits of NOT buying the cheapest thing on the market. After all, those items may suck up more energy during their lifetime or break quickly, forcing you to part with a lot more cash in the long run.

Of course, some of the ideas — like orienting your house to take advantage of the sun — may not be tips you can use if you’re already living in the home you plan to green. If you’re starting from scratch though, you’ll appreciate the bigger picture tips, including how you should pick your location and which major appliances to consider. The book also includes a number of case studies profiling individual experts in various fields — who give interesting tips on their specialties, from what to look for in green furniture to how to achieve sustainable interior design.

True Green Home won’t answer all the eco questions you may have. After all, the loosely-organized book format isn’t a comprehensive encyclopedia or step-by-step guide. To delve further or to get more detailed instructions on any one tip, you may need to do some research on your own (or get another more specific green book!). And long-time greenies will likely find that they’ve already incorporated into their lives many of the ideas in this book.

Still, True Green Home’s an unintimidating and inviting book that’s great for eco-newbies who get easily overwhelmed by all the green info and tips out there. A well-placed copy on your coffee table may give your less-than-eco guests something to browse through — and think about.

Image: Courtesy National Geographihc

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