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Consider Alternative Energy

Onlookers check out the SunTiles attached to the roofs of these newly constructed homes in Calif., in April 2008. The shingles are also solar panels and provide electricity to the homes beneath.

Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

So what's an even better way to greenify your home than decreasing your electricity demand? Well, wouldn't it be great to generate your own clean electricity and stop relying on the big power companies every time you want to turn on a light?

Solar panels, geo-thermal power systems and even wind power options are being employed by clever consumers across the country to reduce their dependence on the large power companies and live somewhat off the "power grid." Although this may not be entirely feasible for many of us right now, new technologies and revitalized adaptations of existing technologies are making the dream of clean, renewable energy more of a reality every day.

As an example, converting to solar power makes a big environmental difference, but installing solar panels is a costly proposal even when taking into account the tax benefits involved. One big problem with a major change to another method of generating electricity to your home is that it could take decades to recuperate the costs and start seeing a financial benefit. Before the economic slowdown, people were staying in their homes an average of seven years before moving on. Adding an expensive alternative energy option to you home won't likely increase its value enough to make the purchase cost effective -- today, anyway. Stay tuned, though. As alternative power system costs come down and conventional energy costs go up, the outlook could change -- and quickly, too.

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