According to What’s Your Impact, residential energy consumption and waste accounts for roughly 6 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. This is driven by the use of electricity as well as home heating costs.
In an effort to slow or reverse the negative effects associated with global climate change, all sectors of the economy and private life will need to see positive changes. Reducing your family’s consumption patterns and habits can be a small but important step in the collective effort to approach this challenge. Likewise, reducing consumption rates inevitably benefits your bank account as your utility bills drop.
For homeowners, looking for small ways to go green and reduce your carbon footprint has tangible benefits and is an important pursuit. Here are some easy ways to achieve that goal.
Start with the thermostat
Texas A&M University reported that one of the most impactful means of reducing your family’s carbon footprint is by being smarter about your home heating and air conditioning practices. Keeping your thermostat at a reasonable temperature and opting to put on an extra layer will lower your oil or gas bill during the winter and can be very helpful for the global environment. In fact, Texas A&M stated that turning the dial 2 degrees cooler in the winter can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere by 2,000 pounds per year. In the same way you compare cable and Internet providers, check how different utility companies get their energy.
New, so-called smart thermostats raise the stakes further by lowering your home’s internal temperature for you while you are at work, on vacation or asleep. According to the Carbon Fund, these devices cost as little as $50, and that cost can easily be offset by the amount your family saves in energy bills.
In an effort to really maximize your home’s heating efficiency, be sure to invest in proper insulation for your attic, windows and doors. Any gaps or drafty areas will keep your house cooler, making your furnace work harder to maintain a stable temperature. Weatherstripping or caulking any problem areas is an easy DIY solution.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
By being more mindful of your family’s consumption habits, it is possible to improve your environmental impact while saving money along the way. For example, Texas A&M found that simple things like keeping your car’s tires properly inflated can have a major impact on the amount of money you spend on gas. Each gallon of gas burned by your car produces roughly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Recycling can mean more than just sorting cans and bottles, but even being more responsible about your garbage can have a major impact. Up to 2,400 pounds of CO2 can be saved if your family manages to recycle about half of your total household waste. Buying products made with recycled materials can further protect natural resources and minimize landfill use.
“Being creative with leftovers is another easy way to lower your impact.”
For anyone with children, recycling or reusing old toys or craft supplies is another way to lower your overall consumption and save a bit of money. Similarly, taking efforts to avoid food waste by being creative with leftovers is another easy way to lower your impact.
Overall, finding ways to reduce the amount of resources your family consumes is the best way to cut costs and lower your carbon footprint. Taking shorter, cooler showers or washing your clothes with cold water are simple ways to lower your home energy expenses.
Elsewhere, turning off unnecessary electronics or lights is also beneficial. Even appliances that are plugged in may still pull a charge and increase your electricity bill. Invest in smart outlets or pull the plug when these devices are not being used.
There are many household items that have been reimagined in the last few years that can be very beneficial toward lowering consumption rates. Compact florescent light bulbs use nearly two-thirds the amount of energy as a standard incandescent one, according to Carbon Fund, and in its lifetime, an energy-efficient bulb may save over $40 in electricity costs.
High-efficiency appliances and electronics have similar yields in terms of reducing the amount of electricity they consume, and the Energy Star label makes it easy to purchase new devices that will lower your overall utility bills. For really ambitious families, investing in solar panels is a fantastic way to reduce your carbon footprint, and on sunny days, you may produce so much electricity that your meter actually runs backward. Check with local and state offerings for tax credits and other ways to get started.
Aside from making major purchases, small initiatives like car pooling, biking or working from home are easy ways to further reduce the amount of greenhouse gases you produce, and Carbon Fund reported that being careful with how you drive may boost your car’s miles per gallon by 30 percent.