How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With Simple Changes Around the House
Evaluate your energy usage
The first step is to take a close look at your daily energy usage. Here are some areas to examine:
Home heating and cooling
- What temperature do you keep your home at? Lowering your thermostat by just 2 degrees in winter can reduce carbon emissions by 2,000 pounds per year. Consider setting it at 68F in winter and 78F in summer.
- Do you have a programmable thermostat? Set it to lower temperatures when you’re asleep or away.
- Check your insulation and seal any air leaks. Improving insulation in walls, attics, etc. helps your home retain heat better.
- Consider a more efficient HVAC system if yours is over 10 years old. Newer systems use less energy.
- Use smart power strips to cut phantom load from electronics when not in use.
Household energy use
- Switch to LED light bulbs. They use 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescents.
- Unplug devices and chargers when not in use. Or get an advanced power strip to cut standby power.
- Run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine, and use colder water settings.
- Replace old appliances with Energy Star models. They’re over 15% more efficient.
- Use lids on pots when cooking to retain heat better.
- Set water heater to 120F. Consider an on-demand or tankless model if yours is over 10 years old.
- Take shorter showers of 5 minutes or less. Install a low-flow showerhead.
- Fix any dripping faucets. A single drip per second wastes thousands of gallons a year.
Make changes in transportation
Transportation accounts for around 30% of carbon emissions from households. Here’s how to reduce your footprint:
- Drive less by consolidating trips, carpooling, biking, walking, or taking public transit when possible.
- Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, hard braking, and rapid acceleration burn more fuel.
- Remove any heavy items from your vehicle when not in use to reduce weight.
- Make sure tires are properly inflated for best gas mileage.
- Limit idling to 30 seconds when starting your car. Idling gets 0 mpg.
- Keep your engine tuned up and change air filters regularly.
- Consider a hybrid or electric vehicle for your next purchase. Their emissions can be 50-75% lower.
- If you own a conventional car, keep it well past 100k miles. Manufacturing vehicles has a large carbon cost.
- Fly less when possible. Each roundtrip flight can add over 1 ton of CO2 per passenger.
- Opt for direct flights which are more fuel efficient than connections.
- Consider buying carbon offsets for air travel to support renewable energy.
Make your home greener
There are several ways you can reduce your carbon footprint through updates and changes within your home:
Energy efficiency upgrades
- Add insulation in your attic, walls, floors, etc. to prevent heat loss.
- Seal any air leaks around windows, doors, outlets, pipes, etc.
- Replace single pane windows with double or triple pane for better insulation.
- Install smart thermostats that optimize heating and cooling.
- Consider solar panels to generate clean energy and reduce electric bills.
Sustainable living choices
- Line dry laundry instead of using the dryer. Clotheslines have zero emissions.
- Grow a vegetable garden. Locally grown food doesn’t get transported long distances.
- Compost food and yard waste instead of sending it to a methane-producing landfill.
- Conserve water by fixing leaks, installing low-flow fixtures, and cutting shower times.
Greener materials and furnishings
- Use non-toxic cleaners and avoid single use plastics.
- Choose reclaimed or recycled materials like bamboo or cork for floors or furniture.
- If buying new wood items, ensure they have the FSC Certification for sustainable forestry.
- Opt for natural fiber area rugs like jute or sisal instead of synthetic materials.
By being mindful of your daily habits and making eco-conscious upgrades over time, your household can significantly reduce its carbon footprint and environmental impact. Small steps make a big difference!