My wife, Annie, and I are determined to become as environmentally conscientious as possible. It is definitely an adjustment and has required a lot of effort, time, and expense. In some areas, we’ve actually saved money, and yet we’ve also spent quite a bit. Riding our bicycles to and from work, instead of driving our cars, means pumping far less gasoline into the tanks. Growing, canning, and freezing vegetables throughout the summer has trimmed our grocery bills, but buying organic produce is definitely more expensive. We are also recycling whenever possible, composting, and even collecting rainwater to use for cleaning purposes. A big issue was determining the type of heating and cooling system for our home. We were not happy with the energy draw and greenhouse gases caused by our conventional central air conditioner and gas furnace. Although we considered a geothermal heat pump, this was simply not feasible on our budget. We eventually settled on an electric heat pump and installed solar panels to provide the electricity. There is no combustion process so there is no production of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide or formaldehyde. The heat pump is extremely energy efficient, and because of the solar panels, it runs on free energy. Although the cost of purchase and installation was rather high, we definitely recovered the investment in less than five years. Plus, the heat pump provides both heating and cooling capability, for a year round solution. Despite the disruption of tearing out the existing HVAC system, and upgrading to the heat pump, it was worth it to protect our environment.