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Julia Louis-Dreyfus On Acting, Parenting, and Going Green

Former Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus juggles life as a working mother with a passion for environmental activism.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus on living green

Connecting all the dots meant truly re-examining how she and her family lived. “I’m a consumer,” she admitted to the environmental website Grist.org. “I love the creature comforts. I can’t live without my cappuccinos, my hot showers. Brad, on the other hand, would live in a tent if he could. … I’m not the type to ride a bike to work, but I’ll buy a hybrid-engine car. I’m not the type to cut back on hot showers, but there’s no harm in hot water when it’s warmed by the sun.”

Newly inspired, she and her husband decided to go green within their own home. In 2002 they retooled their oceanfront residence by building a retractable roof to maximize light and minimize electricity needs, installing windows laminated with heat mirrors, and adding thermal panels to heat water and return any unused energy back to the grid. The house is both stunning in its design and a model of self-sufficiency.

Indeed, homes are where people can make some of the best green choices. “All buildings in America account for 40% of energy use in the United States, with private homes comprising 17% of the total,” says Nick Zigelbaum, an NRDC energy analyst. “So lowering the greenhouse gas emissions from our homes is a critical piece in solving the environmental puzzle. Julia and Brad improved the overall efficiency of their house, and that’s a fantastic way to lower emissions -- and electric bills.”

While not every American can afford such costly renovations, does Louis-Dreyfus think we’re making progress when it comes to conservation, recycling, and burning less energy? “I do. It’s awfully daunting; these environmental conflicts are not easy to solve. But the recent [presidential] election rejuvenated me, proved that we can get something done. It was a lesson that every little bit counts. If everyone commits to making a small change, suddenly you have a movement.”

How  to Green Your Home Like Julia Louis-Dreyfus

When it comes to home design, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has resources that many of us don’t have. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t live a more green lifestyle. Natural Resources Defense Council energy analyst Nick Zigelbaum offers home-owners these three cost-saving tips:

Air no more. It’s been shown that most homes leak around 30% of conditioned air through the attic to the outside,” he says. “So the most important thing homeowners can do to lessen their carbon footprint is seal the ductwork in their attics.”

Seal the deal. “Seal the rest of your house with that ‘hi-tech’ tool, a caulking gun. Leaky windows need to be caulked and weatherized. It’s time-consuming, but it’s cheap and effective.”

Buy smart. “Julia and Brad purchased Energy Star [a program developed by the Environmental Protection Agency] certified appliances -- such as refrigerators and dishwashers -- and they really make a difference, energywise.”

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