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19 August 2008 @ 12:21 am
Minimize Your Emissions  
Creating awareness for an issue like global warming is important and necessary for making change. Don't you ever wonder, however, if there's anything you can do besides that? How can you minimize your role in global warming? There are many simple ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in your home, workplace, and in transportation. Best of all, they do not require much sacrifice. To learn more about them, please click here for a PDF I made about ways to reduce your carbon footprint. If that link does not work for you, please click on the cut to read the text version.

ADJUST YOUR CENTRAL HEATING
By adjusting our thermostats, we can greatly cut down on the amount of energy used to heat our homes. If you have a programmable thermostat, program it to under 70 degrees while you are home, and 60 degrees while you are away (i.e., at work or school) or sleeping. By using the most heat only when necessary, you cut down on emissions. You can do this manually, as well. Apply the same concept to your air conditioning. Turn the air conditioner or central air off when you are away. Not only is this energy efficient, but it saves you money, as well. Don’t forget to replace air filters when necessary. More energy is expended when appliances have to work through dirty filters.

TURN OFF ITEMS WHEN NOT IN USE
Many of us leave our lights, computers, televisions, and other appliances running when we are not using them. By keeping these items plugged in and in use, you are consuming energy that you do not need. This not only contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, but adds to your energy bill, as well. Turn off items when you are finished using them. Unplug your cell phone charger when your phone is done charger. If you have a power surge, turn the power off for all appliances and electronics on it when you are finished. Unplug items even when they are off – for some inefficient appliances, standby power is still being used. Use natural light when possible, and turn on as few lights as necessary.

MINIMIZE LAUNDRY LOADS AND SHOPPING TRIPS
Instead of doing numerous laundry loads during the week, wait until the majority of your clothes are dirty and you have a full load. This uses less water and saves energy and money. Wash your clothes with warm or cold water (they’ll be just as clean) instead of warm. If you are particularly concerned about saving energy, you can air-dry your items instead of tumble drying them. Additionally, do one weekly trip for food instead of two or three during the week. Buy as much food as possible on one day to avoid the need to drive to the grocery store again. Though it may not seem like much, if a thousand people did this, a large amount of carbon emissions would be cut.

USE ENERGY STAR APPLIANCES WHEN POSSIBLE
Energy Star products have been specifically designed to be energy efficient and save you money. In 2007, Americans using these products helped avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 27 million cars. Energy Star products are all marked with a logo, so they are easy to find. For larger appliances, look for the Energy Star chart on the product to compare annual energy consumptions.

SWITCH TO COMPACT FLORESCENT LIGHT BULBS
Florescent bulbs are very energy efficient and can save money. They produce four times the light per watt as incandescent bulbs. Though they may cost slightly more than incandescent bulbs, but are still very affordable. They are known to have a longer life span and are available in many styles.

PROPERLY INFLATE YOUR TIRES
The AAA states that incorrect tire pressure can reduce your gas mileage by two to three percent. Invest in a tire pressure gauge (relatively cheap – only about $5!) and check your tire pressure. If your tires are underinflated, go to your gas station to fill up your tires to the right amount.

WALK, BIKE, OR USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION WHEN POSSIBLE
The majority of us prefer the convenience and speed of driving, but walking or biking is another alternative. For quick errands, walking or biking is an excellent option. It saves the energy that a car would otherwise expend on a trip and allows you to get a few minutes of exercise. Public transportation is also efficient, particularly in larger cities where it is readily available and carbon emissions are the worst.

TAKE SHORTER SHOWERS AND CONSERVE WATER
An hour-long shower is nice, but it’s unnecessary. Try taking shorter showers, which saves more water, and in turn, the energy needed to heat it.

USE MICROWAVES TO REHEAT MEALS
Using a stove or oven requires a lot of energy and also emits a lot of heat. Using a microwave reduces cooking energy by up to 80%, according to Energy Star. Whenever possible, when reheating a portion, microwave it instead. A toaster oven is another option.

BUY LOCALLY AND RECYCLE
If possible, buy fruits and vegetables locally. A lot of energy is expended transporting foods to different places. A large amount of energy is also used to manufacture products. Reuse plastic bags (as trash can bags, for instance) and brings totes when shopping to avoid using more plastic bags. Buy products from recycled materials (such as recycled printer paper). Recycling cuts energy and is great for the environment.

FOR THE AMBITIOUS: WALL INSULATION AND HYBRIDS
Many homes, especially those built in earlier periods, lack insulation. A lack of insulation triggers homeowners into abusing their heaters – setting them to higher temperatures than they would otherwise need. Installing wall insulation can be pricey, but over a few years, you make up the cost in savings. Look for an insulation contractor if you are interested. For those who are looking to save both money and energy and are looking for a new car, invest in a hybrid. They have much better mileage and emit less carbon emissions. Plus, you won’t have to pay as much on gas!

INVEST IN GREEN ENERGY IF POSSIBLE
Much of the electricity you use comes from non-renewable sources, such as coal. Some companies, however, will provide electricity from renewable sources of energy if you request it. Contact your utility company for more information. Or, visit http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/buying/buying_power.shtml for green power options in your state. Other countries, like the United Kingdom, offer options as well. Try http://www.good-energy.co.uk/. If your company does not offer renewable energy, ask them why not.


What are other methods you use to reduce your emissions?