Making a greener and better world is easier said than done. So much of our time, money, and responsibilities take our focus away from being a more environmentally conscious individual. That said, there are many strategies to decrease your carbon footprint that you can consider trying.
However, greenhouse gas output is now worse than it’s ever been. The average American produces 20 metric tons of carbon emissions per year according to an MIT study. That’s five times more than the average person who lives outside of the United States. As dismal as those stats may be, there are practical, simple, and actionable steps you can take to decrease your carbon footprint.
Start with The Simple Things
You don’t have to spend an absurd amount of money to decrease your energy consumption around your home.
Turning off your lights and appliances when you’re not using them will decrease your energy consumption and can increase your bank account. When possible, try washing and drying your dishes by hand. If you haven’t already, switch from using paper towels to cloth rags. You can even repurpose old t-shirts and use them as a drying cloth. Additionally, try to hang dry your clothing instead of throwing it in the dryer. Washing your clothes with cold water instead of hot water will also decrease your energy consumption.
If feasible, you can also do the following:
- Take shorter showers.
- Bike or walk to work.
- Grow your own fruits and vegetables.
- Shop at a farmers market.
- Buy your meat from a local butcher.
- Consider using public transportation more often.
- Carpool when possible.
While these suggestions are a step in the right direction, there’s a lot you can do around your house to decrease your carbon footprint.
Adjust Your HVAC System
Heating and cooling your home uses a lot of energy. According to energy.gov, “Heating and cooling account for about 48% of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes.” Thankfully, you can easily make adjustments to your HVAC system to decrease your energy consumption.
Try adopting these habits:
- During the summer, adjust your thermostat to 78 degrees. It will be a little uncomfortable, but it is manageable. Additionally, close your window curtains to keep out the sunlight.
- During the winter, set your temperature to 68 degrees. During the day, open your window curtains to allow the natural sunlight to warm your home.
- Set your water heater between 110 and 120 degrees. This will ensure that your water temperatures can still be warm, but not scorching.
- Clean or replace your furnace filters every three months. If you don’t do this, your furnace may work harder than it needs to.
- Clean the area surrounding your outside air conditioning unit. Debris often builds up around these units. This debris can obstruct airflow from the unit to the fans.
- Seal air leaks. You can buy equipment to help you with this.
Upgrade Your Equipment
Being on top of your home maintenance equipment will assist you in becoming a more environmentally conscious individual. Like most good things in life, it requires observation, maintenance, and consistency. But busy schedules can often lead us to neglect our equipment. Fortunately for all, companies now make it easier for consumers to make their home more energy efficient.
Some of the suggestions outlined below may not be feasible for everyone, but most budgets will allow people to purchase some equipment to make their homes better for the environment:
- Replace your lightbulbs. According to energysage.com, “Halogen incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), and light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) use anywhere from 25-80% less electricity and last three to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.”
- Purchase a smart power strip. Electronics and appliances often use energy when they aren’t being used. Smart power strips will stop this equipment from using energy when it’s not necessary.
- Use energy efficient appliances. The next time you’re in the market for an appliance, make sure that you buy a piece of equipment that has the Energy Star label. The Energy Star label is a federal guarantee that the appliance is more energy efficient than conventional models.
- Look into installing smart home technology in your house. There are a million different products you can buy to automate and secure your home, so it’s important that you do your research into which type of home automation technology is right for you. Installing smart home technology will allow you to monitor and regulate your home appliances and equipment at the touch of a button.
- Use solar technology. Installing solar panels is becoming more popular among American residents. It’s steadily becoming more inexpensive to install solar panels and it can pay off in the long-run. If you’re serious about decreasing your carbon footprint, there’s no better way to use clean energy than harvesting electricity from the sun!
- Consider a hybrid or electric car when it’s time to purchase a new vehicle.
Reducing your carbon footprint all starts with personal accountability. Changing daily habits, being a good steward over your home, being consistent, and looking for new ways to live a greener more sustainable life all starts with you. Take action now to make the world a better place.