Everyone knows the dire predictions of climate change, but research provides the hope that change now can make a big difference for the future. We all care about our planet and want to do our part to reduce carbon emissions, but many of us don’t know what to do. Luckily, we can all make a difference, starting at home. You can own a home and still greatly reduce your carbon emissions with just a few small changes.
Add More Insulation
An insufficiently insulated house is difficult to both cool and heat. Taking the simple step of adding more insulation will help your home stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer, putting less strain on air conditioning units and furnaces. You can easily add insulation to a variety of places on an existing home, without being too invasive to the structure. Add insulation to the attic, garage doors, and crawl spaces. Also, check out your home’s air ducts. These should be sealed and insulated if found in a space that is not air conditioned. Similarly, make sure that all windows and doors are properly caulked and sealed.
Use Efficient Lights and Appliances
Changing out old appliances for new, energy-efficient ones can save you money in the long-term, as well as significantly reduce your energy usage. Modern appliances are built with efficiency in mind. Many new models are labeled with energy outputs, which means that you can make an educated decision as you compare options. If replacing appliances is not an option for you, you can still minimize your energy use by keeping appliances clean. Many appliances have filters that need to be cleaned or replaced regularly. Another relatively inexpensive and quick way to save energy and reduce your carbon emissions is to change out regular light bulbs for LED bulbs. LED bulbs use far less electricity and last much longer than standard ones.
Use Less Water in Your Bathroom
One energy sucker we tend to forget about is our water usage. Most of us bathe, shower, and brush our teeth without thinking about the water and energy we are using. Adjusting our habits with these daily activities can go a long way to minimizing our carbon footprint. Make sure the water is turned all the way cold when brushing teeth, and don’t keep the water running. Only run the water when you need to rinse. Another easy change is to take showers instead of baths and keep your showers as short as possible. One way to do this is to turn the water off between rinses when you are shaving. You can also replace your toilet with an eco-friendly one that uses twenty to thirty percent less water.
Get Rid of Your Lawn
Removing your lawn can substantially help the planet in several ways. You will no longer have to run gas or electrically powered lawn mowers and edgers, you will help reduce the amount of fertilizer and herbicides running into our waterways, and you will eliminate the use of water for your lawn. There are a variety of options that you can use to replace grass. Your yard can be an eco-friendly haven with a landscape design that combines beautiful beds of native plants with gravel. There are many types of gravel that can take the place of a water-intensive lawn. Using a variety of attractive gravel types, such as river rock, glass gravel, pea gravel, and lava rock, you can create a yard that will be the envy of the neighborhood.
Many household items do not need to be purchased new. Buying used clothing, home goods, and furniture can be a fun and cost-effective way to reduce your carbon emissions. Buying gently used items reduces landfill waste, supports the local economy, and uses far less energy than limiting yourself to new products. Buying used also provides a much larger variety to choose from. It is a fun challenge to fill a wardrobe or furnish a room with discoveries made at garage sales, consignment stores, and thrift shops. Your pocketbook will thank you as well!
Eat Locally Grown Food and Fewer Animal Products
What we fill our refrigerators and pantries with says a lot about our commitment to the planet. Changing the way we eat is one of the most dramatic impacts we can have on reducing our carbon footprint. Visit your farmer’s market for locally grown produce and you will greatly reduce the energy that goes into producing and transporting food. The meat industry is one of the biggest carbon producers worldwide. Simply reducing the amount of meat you eat each week, especially beef, will go a long way to slowing climate change. These changes will improve your health as well.
Switch to Renewable Energy Providers
Many energy providers are working to become more eco-conscious by utilizing sustainable energy sources such as solar and wind. Educate yourself as to the sources of your energy provider. If needed and available, consider switching to a provider who is committed to clean energy. If it is practical for you, you can even consider purchasing or leasing solar panels. The savings you will incur on your energy bills will make the expense worth it in the long run.
Remember the Basics
The three R’s you learned in elementary school might seem insignificant, but the best thing you can do is go back to the basics. Never forget to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Work toward eliminating single-use plastics from your life. Use washable containers rather than baggies. Reuse plastic bags, clothing, and food jars. Take reusable bags with you to the grocery store. Compost any organic matter. And be sure to recycle whatever waste you do end up with.
Small changes at home can go a long way to helping you do your part to reduce carbon emissions. It doesn’t take a huge amount of time or money to help the planet. With just a few adjustments and new habits, you will be well on your way to limiting your carbon footprint—one small step at a time!
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