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How to Go Green in Hard Times

It's tough to be green when money is tight.

Lots of big environmentally friendly changes look good in theory, like buying solar panels or switching to a hybrid car. The trouble is, many of those fixes take years to make back their cost — and most people can't afford that luxury in these tough economic times.

The good news: There are plenty of energy-saving changes you can make that will recoup their cost fast. Some are cheap and simple, like replacing the air filters on your central air conditioning.

Others are costlier and more complicated — such as insulating your attic — but they're so effective they'll pay for themselves quickly.

We've chosen 10 changes and laid out how much they'll cost you and how much they'll save, as well as the payback time. In most cases, it's less than a year or two.

High-Tech Thermostats

Programmable thermostats make it easy to preset a week's worth of temperatures — and give you much greater control over energy bills. For instance, you could program the gadget to lower the temperature when everyone's asleep, something you might forget to do on a nightly basis.

COST: $50 to $150.

PAYBACK: About a year, assuming the thermostat controls both heating and cooling.

• Click here to read the rest of this story in the Wall Street Journal.

• Click here to visit FOXNews.com's Natural Science Center.