What Is Your Carbon Footprint?
With reprint permission by Tech Resources, Inc.
Climate change is already affecting our daily lives and could have a serious impact on future generations. Climate change is caused by emissions into the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2). While industry, transportation and power generation make up the largest share of emissions, our daily household activities also have an impact. According to the Nature Conservancy, the average U.S. household emits 110 tons of CO2 per year. The EPA estimates that 17% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from people’s homes.
The three main sources of greenhouse gas emissions from homes are electricity use, heating and waste. Emissions from electricity generation occur at the power plants that supply your electricity. Most household heating systems use fossil fuels, such as oil or natural gas, that emit greenhouse gases. Many people are not aware that the trash that they throw away leads to greenhouse gas emissions. Trash decomposing at landfills creates landfill gas partly made up of greenhouse gases such as methane and CO2. For every person in the U.S., over 1,000 pounds of greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere from the garbage that we throw away each year, according to EPA estimates.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How You Can Help
There are a number of actions that you can take, around your home and in your daily life, that can help to lower your carbon footprint.
Change a light — Replace your incandescent bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). They use 75% less energy and last up to ten times as long.
Heat and cool smartly — Moving your thermostat down two degrees in winter and up two degrees in summer can save on average up to 2,000 pounds in carbon emissions and nearly $100 per year in a typical home.
Travel smart — Automobiles are a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Whenever possible use public transportation, car pool, walk or ride bicycles.
Buy green vehicles — Consider purchasing a vehicle with a higher MPG or better carbon efficiency. Search the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Economy site and find out the carbon footprint of individual models.
Retrofit for energy efficiency — You can reduce your carbon footprint by retrofitting your home to be more energy efficient or to utilize renewable energy sources such as solar, wind or geothermal. See the DSIRE database of state, federal and local credits, rebates and other financing incentives for renewable energy.
Recycle and reuse — If there is a recycling program in your community, recycle newspapers, can, plastics, etc. Think of creative ways to reuse products, such as plastic bags, in your home. Support the recycling industry by purchasing products made from recycled materials.
Purchase Energy Star® qualified products — When buying new appliances or electronic products for your home, look for efficient Energy Star® certified products that provide the performance you expect while using less energy.
To learn more about global warming, its effect on energy and how to measure your carbon footprint, visit www.nature.org/greenliving