Most American homes could reduce their carbon footprints with only a small amount of effort. Living an eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t mean making huge changes. It just means tweaking some of the aspects of your life so that you’re more conscious about the impact your actions have on the earth.
Program Your Thermostat
Your thermostat settings may be eating up energy, which costs you more money and adds to your home’s carbon footprint. If you change the way your thermostat is set, by turning it down in winter and up in summer, you can save as much as 180 dollars per year. Energy Star recommends reducing your thermostat by eight degrees while you’re at work and while you’re asleep during the winter. In the summer, while you’re at work, let the temperature increase by seven degrees, and while you’re sleeping, increase it by four.
Reduce Your Car Usage
The most common way to reduce car usage is to carpool, but for the introverts among us carpooling isn’t always an attractive option. Instead, try biking shorter distances. If you don’t work very far from home, biking or walking is a healthier alternative that’s also going to reduce your car emissions. Even if that doesn’t work, try walking to nearby coffee shops, the library, or to friends’ houses.
Consolidate Your Electronics
If you have an e-reader, a small tablet, and an mp3 player, all besides your cell phone, you’re wasting energy charging all those devices. Instead, consolidate all those electronic needs into a new, updated smartphone with all the capabilities you’re looking for. The Apple iPhone 6S is a perfect choice, with its 5-inch high-definition screen, advanced iSight camera, and intuitive iOS 9 interface. You’ll need just one charger, which you can unplug from the outlet when you’re finished using it.
Install Solar Panels
Find out if your home could benefit from solar panels. Factors like the angle of your roof, the way your house is facing, and the region you live in affect the efficiency and cost. Installing solar panels isn’t as cheap or as simple as the other items on this list, but it’s one of the most effective ways to seriously reduce your carbon footprint and save a lot of money on electricity bills. Over a 30-year span, solar panels on your house can offset so much carbon dioxide, it would be like planting 10 football fields full of trees.
Stop Printing at the Office
Despite living in a digital era, so many offices still print pages upon pages of documents every day. At your next office meeting, suggest implementing office policies to reduce paper usage. This could include emailing reports and meeting agendas, sending electronic bills to clients instead of paper ones, or allowing workers to bring their own electronic devices to work. If you’re not in a position to change things at the office, try to go paperless at home. Remove yourself from as many mailing lists as you can, make grocery lists on your smartphone, and have receipts emailed instead of printed whenever possible.
Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle
Image via Flickr by csatch
Reusing and recycling, besides decreasing waste, reduces energy use drastically compared to manufacturing new items. If your city has curbside recycling pickup, get a bin and start recycling. Even if it doesn’t, many cities have a recycling center where you can drop off your materials for recycling. Create your own recycling system at home, then every two weeks to a month, take those items to the center. Get your friends in on it, too, so you’re only taking one car. If your city doesn’t recycle, you can still reuse and upcycle things at home. Instead of buying new furniture, look into refurbishing your old furniture. The internet is full of ideas for turning unwanted items into exciting storage or decor options.
These six ideas are only the beginning. Buying local and ethically sourced products, investing in a hybrid vehicle, and replacing all the lightbulbs in your home with compact fluorescents or LEDs are more things you can do. Even though you’re just one person, if you implement these changes and encourage the people you know to do the same, you can make a difference. Being environmentally friendly is all about each of us doing everything we can.