Helping Homeowners Save While Reducing Carbon Footprint

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You’ve likely heard a lot about reducing your carbon footprint. But what exactly does that mean, and why is it important?

Simply put, a carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by our daily activities and lifestyle choices. From the electricity that powers your home to the transportation you use to the food you eat, everything impacts the environment.

The higher your carbon footprint, the more you contribute to climate change and other environmental issues, including air pollution, forest destruction, and biodiversity loss.

Yes, there is evidence for this.

The United Nations reports that over the centuries, human activities have caused around 1.1°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels. This is why we experience extreme weather conditions, with 2023 being the hottest year ever recorded on Earth.

To reduce future catastrophic impacts, we need to limit warming to 1.5°C.

How will this be achieved? By making simple adjustments to reduce our carbon emissions.

The fun part is that you can contribute to this course and save some money. Let’s look at some practical and affordable steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint and save money and the planet for future generations.

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint While Saving Money

To reduce your carbon footprint, you first have to understand your current footprint. You can use online calculators, like the EPA’s Household Carbon Footprint Calculator, to estimate your emissions based on factors like home energy use, transportation habits, and diet.

When you have your numbers, start taking targeted action to reduce your carbon footprint. The goal should be to get as close as possible to the target of 2.5 annual tons of CO2 emissions per person by 2050 to limit global temperature rise. You can always track your carbon footprint to know when you’re hitting the target.

How will you reduce your carbon footprint to reach the 2.5 annual target?

Adopt Easy Energy Efficient Upgrades

thermostat

A significant contributor to your carbon footprint is the energy consumed to heat, cool, and power your home. Reports show that residential and commercial buildings account for about 31% of US greenhouse gas emissions.

Fortunately, there are many ways you can increase efficiency:

Water Heater: Start with your water heater. To help reduce your carbon footprint and save money, turn down your water heater to 120°F or lower. Of course, you’ll notice a difference in water temperature, which will likely save you around 500 pounds of CO2 per year in most households.

Thermostat: Adjust your thermostat to a few degrees cooler in winter and warmer in summer to minimize heating and cooling demands. The Department of Energy estimates you can save about 10% yearly on heating and cooling by turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its standard setting.

Lightbulbs: Swap out incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. LED bulbs use up to 90% less energy and last even longer. Five LED bulbs can eliminate around 450 pounds of CO2 emissions annually.

HVAC: Install mini splits. Mini-splits cost even less to install compared to the central system. These ductless units allow you to heat or cool specific rooms or zones as needed, which is not the case with a central system that treats the entire home. This increases efficiency since you avoid wasting energy on unoccupied spaces. Mini splints can be 25-50% more energy efficient than conventional HVAC systems. Besides saving you money, replacing an old air conditioner with mini-splits could prevent over 3,000 pounds of C02 emissions per year for the average household.

Electronics: Unplug your electronics and appliances when not in use to avoid power leaks from standby mode, which can account for 5-10% of residential energy use.

Appliances: Look for the Energy Star certification mark when buying or replacing old appliances or systems to ensure superior energy efficiency. An Energy Star-certified refrigerator, for example, uses about half as much energy as a dated model.

An Eco-Friendly Diet

burger with lettuce and tomato
Photo by Grooveland Designs on Pexels.com

The food you eat also makes up a significant portion of your total carbon footprint. Foods like meat, dairy, and eggs you source from animals have a larger impact on the environment than those you source from plants.

In fact, global livestock production accounts for a staggering 14.5% of total human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. This is due to industrial livestock operations’ emissions, including transportation of feeds and animals, land use changes, and more.

Does that mean you totally go vegan or vegetarian? No. But you can reduce or manage your consumption of these foods.

Reducing red meat alone can reduce your diet’s carbon footprint by more than a third. You can participate in Meatless Monday or swap in with plant-based meat alternatives.

You can also diversify your diet with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu.

Remember, it’s better to eat locally sourced seasonal food when possible to minimize the emissions of long-distance transportation and storage.

Be mindful of food wastage. Studies indicate that a typical American household throws out around 1,000 pounds of edible food per year, wasting all the resources that went into producing it.

Smart Transportation

sustainable transportation

Another primary source of gas emissions is the mode of transportation. Research shows that transportation modes, including cars, trucks, and air, account for around 28% of US greenhouse gas emissions.

You can walk, use a bike or public transit, or carpool whenever possible rather than driving alone.

If this sounds hard to do, ensure you maintain your vehicle with regular tune-ups and properly inflated tires to maximize fuel efficiency. Keeping the tires inflated can improve gas mileage by around 3%.

If you’re flying, purchase carbon offsets to counterbalance the emissions from your flight, and you’ll change the world in a small way. A round-trip flight from New York to Los Angeles generates 1.8 metric tons of CO2 emissions per passenger.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are so many ways for homeowners to save money while reducing their carbon footprint.

From low to no-cost home upgrades to smarter consumption habits, the little choices you make each day make a real difference long-term. You’ll also enjoy the financial benefits of lower utility bills and reduced gas spending.

What’s better than saving money while saving the planet? Implement these tips to reduce your carbon footprint while saving money and living a greener, sustainable lifestyle.

  • Manny Thompson

    Manny Thomspon, a writer working in tangent with companies including Total Home Supply, has spent the last three years diving into the latest HVAC regulations, helping homeowners demystify their uncannily high utility bills while cutting down on their carbon footprint - by day a writer, and by night, a passionate guitar lover

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