Lower Your Home’s Carbon Footprint with These Easy Tips

Climate change may turn out to be the defining issue of our time. As global temperatures continue to rise, many of us are looking for small ways that we can make a difference. What better place to start than right in your own home?

Making your home eco-friendly can seem daunting. Installing solar panels and replacing windows aren’t an afternoon project. They take time and financial planning. However, there are many changes we can make without spending a penny, and those small changes add up. The two main areas we’ll focus on are power and waste.

Cut the Power

A costly utility bill isn’t only hurting your wallet. It also means power plants need to burn more coal and natural gas, emitting CO2 into the atmosphere. Your home is probably full of opportunities to conserve electricity. One thing we all do that uses a huge amount of power is washing and drying our clothes.

85-90% of power used by washing clothes goes to heating water. Set your machine to cold wash when you can to cut down on energy consumption. When the weather’s fair, take advantage of it by hanging your clothes on the line. It doesn’t have to be a cloudless summer day to dry clothes outside, and it will drastically reduce your power consumption.

Another cost-free way to save on electricity is to unplug your devices when they’re not in use. You probably have at least 50 items in your home that use electricity. Many of them are always plugged into the outlet. While this is necessary in some cases, like your refrigerator or alarm clock, oftentimes those objects are left on standby, slowly leeching electricity. One way to easily cut the power to multiple objects is to keep them plugged into a power strip. Start in the living room where you might have a TV, DVD player, cable box, and lamps all plugged into one strip. Simply power off the strip at night to start saving.

Take out the Trash

Up to 70% of waste from U.S. households goes into landfills. That’s double the rate of many European countries. Just like conserving power, reducing waste can be done at no cost to you and can sometimes save you money. A good place to start? Food items.

In the U.S., up to 40% of food purchased will never be consumed. All of that food took a huge amount of energy to grow, process, package and ship. Even worse, much of that food is over-packaged and then placed into unrecyclable plastic bags at the checkout line. How can you save?

  • The next time you need to go grocery shopping, make a list beforehand so you only buy what you will eat
  • At the store reach for items that are less packaged, like fresh vegetables
  • When possible, buy items like rice and beans in bulk. You’ll throw away less packaging and save at the register
  • Get a few reusable shopping bags and keep them in your car. Grocery stores are happy to use your bags. It saves the store money on bags and, in some states, saves you money where there are additional charges for using plastic bags.
  • Ask for no bag. Most store employees assume customers want a bag, even for small purchases at CVS. Cut down on waste by saying “No, thank you” to plastic bags

Being a conscious consumer at the grocery store and being a conservative consumer of electricity at home will help you do your small part for the environment, and save some money in the process.

Benefits of a Programmable Thermostat

The cost of heating can really take a toll on us over the colder fall and winter months. Having a programmable thermostat can help in cutting heating costs and still staying warm. But just having one isn’t enough – you need to know how to use it to its full potential!

Programmable thermostats have the ability to be programmed so that you can have multiple temperature settings through out the day. The benefit of this, is not having to think about turning down the heat before you leave for work, or cranking it up when you get home. Instead, you get heating at the exact temperature you want, when you want.

So what temperatures should you set it to exactly? While you are home and awake, setting it to 68 degrees is a pretty standard temperature. While you are away from home, or sleeping, reducing it to 58 degrees should be tolerable. Of course, reducing the temperature even more than that while you are out of the house is possible, just don’t make it too low and freeze your water pipes.

Reducing your thermometer by 10-15 degrees for 8 hours (like while you are at work) you can save 5-15% off your heating bill. So the benefits can really pay off for reducing your heat while you are at work. For example: if you pay $200 a month in heating, reducing the heat by 15 degrees during the day will save $10-$30 a month which can add up to $60-$180 for the year if you use the heat for 6 months.

Finding ways to cut costs is important to everyone during tough economic times. Every penny counts. So add this money saving tip to your list and you could start racking up the savings.