Eco-Friendly Living: How to Have a Greener Home

Ed Begley Jr. explains how his graywater system works to Allen Lyle.
Ed Begley Jr. explains his graywater system to Allen Lyle.

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We’re taking a look at some innovative green ideas from the Los Angeles homes of actor and environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr. and science guru Bill Nye. From conserving water to solar landscape lighting to green lawn equipment, find out how you can make your home more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

In his new book Ed Begley Jr.’s Guide to Sustainable Living the noted actor and environmentalist explains how to conserve, produce, and manage the energy and water used in your home. Ed and his wife, Rachelle, also star in the Planet Green TV series Living with Ed, an informative and often humorous take on what it’s like to live a green lifestyle.

Recycled plastic fencing.

The Begleys installed a graywater recycling system in their home to filter waste water from showers, bathtubs, sinks, and washing machines for use on their fruit trees and vegetable garden. Before it can be reused, graywater must pass through a series of filters to remove or kill any bacteria and other contaminants in the water.

Another eco-friendly improvement the Begleys made is a privacy fence made from recycled plastic milk jugs. Composite decking—composed of plastic and sawdust—is a plastic product that is a durable alternative to wood decking. Since not all composite is made from recycled materials, check with the manufacturer if you want to make a green choice for your home.

Danny Lipford discusses green living with Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Just down the street from the Begleys’ is the home of science guru and TV personality Bill Nye, who is also a green enthusiast. His home includes solar panels for producing electricity and a solar hot water system.

Eco-Friendly Lawn Equipment

The propane powered Eco Blower from LEHR.

One way to make your yard work easier on the environment is with the LEHR Eco Blower and Eco Trimmer. Powered by clean burning propane, these award winning lawn and garden tools emit 70% less hydrocarbons, 96% fewer carcinogens, and 97% less particulates than gasoline powered models.

Solar Powered Landscape Lighting

LED solar powered landscape lighting with NiMH batteries.

Recent advances in solar powered landscape lighting have made them work far more effectively and efficiently. Features to look for when choosing solar landscape lighting include:

  • LED (light emitting diode) light.
  • NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) battery.
  • Improved solar photovoltaic panel.

Water Saving Toilets

HydroRight dual flush converter.

Toilets account for a quarter of the water used in the average home. Older toilets use up to five gallons of water per flush, three times that of newer models. Dual flush toilets save even more water by giving you two flushing options, one for liquid and one for solid waste.

While you can replace your existing toilet with a water saving model, another option is to modify your existing toilet with the HydroRight dual flush converter. The kit costs less than $30 and reduces the water used by a toilet by 70%. Installation is easy and takes less than 10 minutes.

Other Tips from This Episode

Coffee Container for Paint

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Coffee Container for Paint

Rather than buying a special container to hold paint for trimming out a room, reuse a plastic coffee container instead. They come with a plastic snap on lid to keep paint from drying out, and a built-in handle that doubles as a handy holder for your paintbrush.

Philips LED Flood Light

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Philips LED Flood Light

The new Philips LED flood light for indoor recessed and track lighting applications is energy efficient and produces a soft white light. The bulbs last up to 15 years and are guaranteed not to hum. Philips LED lights are available at The Home Depot.

Burning Newspaper Logs

Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
Burning Newspaper Logs

You might think that rolling up newspaper to burn in your fireplace would be an eco-friendly idea, but hand rolled logs are not compressed enough to burn effectively and can actually cause damage to your flue and the environment. A better alternative is to recycle old newspapers.


  1. Danny,
    I really liked the trip around Ed B. garden, but I was particularly interested in the solar water heater. Do you feel as if these simpler ideas would take off in “Historic Savannah”. I’ve been working in the area for only a short time, having lived in the area for 20yrs, and I get that good feeling of accomplishmentwhen I complete a job.
    I have been looking into the Green options for a while and they seem to becoming more reasonable these days.I work with a great lady running a number of properties and need some ideas to present to her. Thanks for way you present projects-very helpfull.
    Steven D

  2. Hai Danny,

    Thanks for the information you provided.I really enjoy Your blog and also i follow tips you provided.we can choose to live in one which is environmentally friendly homes and also save the money.Keep the good work,I need to do my part to clean the environment.

  3. I was happy to see MJSI and their HydroRight get a mention here. I have installed a few of the dual flush converters. As advertised, it was simple to install with no tools or need to remove the tank. Now, we are saving water and money on the water bill. You can’t go wrong with the HydroRight!


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