If everyone made an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, it could help to save the Earth from the disastrous effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Though climate change has become a dirty word to the people who don’t believe it’s happening, common sense tells you something strange is going on when you look at all the crazy weather. In the winter of 2014, for example, the eastern half of the United States was caught in a polar vortex that dumped copious amounts of snow -- record-setting amounts -- while the West experienced moderate-to-exceptional drought conditions, all of which scientists say is the result of global warming.
The first thing you can do to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere each year is to reduce the amount of energy consumed by the home. Change out the old light bulbs in your home to replace them with Energy Star qualified products. If you just replaced the bulbs in five of the largest light fixtures EnergyStar.gov says you’ll not only save up to $70 a year, as of the time of publication, on your energy bills, you’ll use up to 75 percent less energy with bulbs that last 10 to 50 times longer.
Avoid energy waste by sealing drafts and air leaks in your home. Caulk around leaky windows and doors, and add insulation to the attic to reduce the amount of energy lost when heating or cooling your home. In addition to adding weatherstripping around leaky doors, install a programmable thermostat and have your heating and air-conditioning units inspected annually.
Reduce your home’s carbon footprint by recycling or reusing goods. For example, instead of throwing away items that are perfectly good, donate them to the local charity or thrift store where they will be re-used or re-purposed. Develop an in-home recycling program by separating trash into bins for recyclable newspapers, cardboard, plastics and beverage containers. Compost the home’s food waste to use in your landscaping or garden.
Keep your car’s tires correctly inflated; you can save 400 to 700 pounds of carbon dioxide per year by just doing this. Have your car regularly tuned up and change your driving habits. Doing so can save up to a ton of carbon dioxide year. Maintain a steady speed when you drive; drive the speed limit, anticipate your stops and starts and accelerate smoothly and slowly.
Don’t waste water. Install water-saving toilets that consume less water with each flush and water-reducing showerheads. Turn off the water when you shave or brush your teeth. Add drought-tolerant landscaping to your yard or plant a vegetable garden instead of grass. Plant more trees to help reduce carbon dioxide.
The next time you need to replace an appliance, look for one with the government’s Energy Star rating to reduce energy consumption. Turn off electronics not in use and pay attention to the electronics that always stay on. Install a power strip to plug them into so that you can turn them completely off.
Choose green energy options with your local utility company. Some utilities allow you to choose the type of energy you prefer to consume. You can also modify your home by using green energy such as solar or wind power. Buy goods locally when possible to avoid increased pollution because of fuel shipping costs and pollution.
Navigate to the EPA’s Household Carbon Footprint Calculator to determine how much energy you use in your home and find ways to reduce it. Have copies of your recent energy bills so you can enter the average for the amount of energy consumed in winter and summer. The process takes between 10 to 15 minutes.