What You Can Do to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home

Reducing the impact of your home on global warming is mostly tied to the power plants that are run on fossil-fuels. The burning of these fossil-fuels such as oil, coal, natural gas creates carbon-dioxide which accumulates in the atmosphere, which contributes to a greenhouse effect, causing global warming. It is this carbon dioxide production that we are trying to reduce.

Therefore, the principle of carbon conservation is to reduce the amount of power you consume in your house, which will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted.

There are small things that you can do to use less power. Replacing incandescent lights with compact flourescents is easier and less expensive than several years ago. The bulbs fit into a standard light bulb socket, produce just as much or even more light (measured in lumens) and are now available in a warmer light color, so they don’t remind you of the lights in your dentist office. They also last much longer than their incandescent (regular) counterparts. You can now find fluorescent lights everywhere regularlight bulbs are sold, including retail stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and any hardware store. There is no special equipment necessary, so it is a simple investment that can really reduce your energy usage.

Turn off lights in rooms that are unoccupied, or use timers to set when a light will go off. Use small task lights instead of turning on every light in a particular room. Try using natural sunlight during the day instead of turning all the lights on.

Wash your clothes in cold water, and line-dry them if possible. If you live in a temperate climate, hanging your clothes to dry is a viable option, though it does take a little more time. Washers and driers use a lot of energy. Washing your clothes with cold water uses less energy because the water does not need to be heated (which takes more energy than washing them in cold water).

There are even special detergents optimized to work best with cold water. Also, without being dirty, evaluate your clothes before washing them. Does that shirt just need to be ironed? Did I only wear those jeans for five minutes while making up my mind as to what to wear? Clean clothes are a part of good grooming, but we often wash things that are not really dirty just because they’ve touched our bodies for a moment, or fell on the floor too close to the hamper.

Unplug appliances that are not being used. Stereo systems, coffee pots, video game systems, clocks and specialty lamps all use power even when you’re not using them. If an appliance needs to be replaced, take the time to shop for energy-efficient ones. There is a label called “Energy Star” which certifies that an appliances uses a significantly lower amount of power than traditional appliances. Some states even give tax credits for Energy Star appliance purchases – check your local legislation to find out. That might be enough of a financial incentive.

Check your home for drafts, broken window panes, and gaps in doorways. Whether summer or winter, your house could be letting out the heat or air-conditioning that you’re using power to create. Most drafty doors or windows can be fixed by using caulk or by repairing windowpanes, installing weatherstripping, or replacing a window. If you have questions on how to do this, seek advice from your local hardware store, or a place like Home Depot or Loews.

Get a thermostat which regulates heat and/or air conditioning through the day. The heat does not need to be on full blast when no one is home, but it shouldn’t be freezing when you get home from work, either. A programmable thermostat is relatively easy to install, and can save you a lot of money on your heating bill. Lower the temperature during times that no one is home, and when everyone is asleep. Set the heat to your comfort level for peak times that you are home. Never turn an air conditioner on in a room that also has an open window, it’s purely a waste. You can also attempt to section off portions of your home so your air conditioner is not trying to cool the entire house.

By doing these things to reduce your power use, you will not only save money on your electric bills, but help to reduce the amount of carbon entering our atmosphere.

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