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5 ways to ‘go green’ on the cheap

Invest in home features with short payback period

Architect Peter Pfeiffer has no patience for "eco bling." That's his term for the proliferation in the marketplace of pricey devices that promise consumers a greener "footprint" for their homes. Yes, he says, these goodies might have energy-savings potential, but many of them require dipping deep into one's wallet and could take years to pay for themselves. For homeowners who are building or doing major remodeling, he suggests, instead, that good design and planning can go a long way toward controlling energy consumption. Pfeiffer is a prominent architect in Austin, Texas, a city that has become known as the "green homebuilding capital of America" for its conservation-minded building code and a widespread environmental consciousness. His resume suggests that he knows a thing or two about the topic. In 2006, for instance, he was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects for his commitment to mainstreaming green building in North Am...