Thursday, September 27, 2007

Easy ways you can help the environment.

WOW! Last night, Kerri - my BFF who is one of my biggest contributors of information, my husband Sean - who is my biggest listener and I went to see Al Gore give his presentation on global warming. It was AWESOME and you can expect to hear more about it in the coming days.

Saving the planet can seem like a daunting task. People often ask "what can I do?" or "will my small changes really make a difference?". As a matter of fact, you can help and yes, your changes do make a difference. Every wonder how much CO2 you are putting into the atmosphere? Click here to find out. National average is 7.5 and mine came out to be 11.2. I was shocked. I do have a really long commute but my car gets 36 miles to the gallon but because it's older, I'm sure I got hit for that. If you happen to use TXU for your electricity and you DON'T live in Waco, 0% of your electricity is generated by clean, renewable sources such as wind or solar. TXU has a wind farm out in west Texas and it only supplies power to half a million customers. Let's hope that number increases really quickly. If you use Austin Energy or PEC, you have the option to purchase green power at a slighter higher rate. I'm pretty excited about this. We have PEC out in Kyle. I'm going to check my bill to see how much more it will be and I'll post the comparisons. Here's the link (it's also posted below) to see if your state or power company offers green options.

Here's a few ways that you can easily make a difference while you are at home, the office or on the road. The majority of these tips came from climatecrisis.net. The other ones are ones that I have heard about over the years and have been practicing in my own home.

1. Turn the water off when you are brushing your teeth. You can save up to 8 gallons of water in just 2 minutes.

2. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.

3. Even better - replace all your light bulbs with a compact fluorescent light bulb. CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If every family in the U.S. made the switch, we’d reduce carbon dioxide by more than 90 billion pounds! You can purchase CFLs online from the Energy Federation.

4. Take a shorter shower. Cutting a few minutes off your shower time will save buckets of water.

5. Only water your lawn in the morning or after sunset. Evaporation happens at a slower rate when the air is cooler.

6. Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer. Almost half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and cooling. You could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple adjustment. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has more tips for saving energy on heating and cooling.

7. Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner. Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

8. Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases
Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances to choose the most efficient models. If each household in the U.S. replaced its existing appliances with the most efficient models available, we’d eliminate 175 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year!

9. Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket. You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action. You can save another 550 pounds per year by setting the thermostat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

10. Use less hot water. It takes a lot of energy to heat water. You can use less hot water by installing a low flow showerhead (350 pounds of carbon dioxide saved per year) and washing your clothes in cold or warm water (500 pounds saved per year) instead of hot.

11. Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible. You can save 700 pounds of carbon dioxide when you air dry your clothes for 6 months out of the year.

12. Turn off electronic devices you’re not using. Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

13. Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them. Even when turned off, things like hairdryers, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy. In fact, the energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption and spews 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year!

14. Only run your dishwasher when there’s a full load and use the energy-saving setting. You can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

15. Insulate and weatherize your home. Properly insulating your walls and ceilings can save 25% of your home heating bill and 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Caulking and weather-stripping can save another 1,700 pounds per year. The Consumer Federation of America has more information on how to better insulate your home.

16. Be sure you’re recycling at home. You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling half of the waste your household generates. Earth 911 can help you find recycling resources in your area.

17. Buy recycled paper products. It takes less 70 to 90% less energy to make recycled paper and it prevents the loss of forests worldwide.

18. Plant a tree. A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%. The Arbor Day Foundation has information on planting and provides trees you can plant with membership.

19. Get a home energy audit. Many utilities offer free home energy audits to find where your home is poorly insulated or energy inefficient. You can save up to 30% off your energy bill and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Energy Star can help you find an energy specialist.

20. Switch to green power. In many areas, you can switch to energy generated by clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar. The Green Power Network is a good place to start to figure out what’s available in your area

21. Buy locally grown and produced foods. The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.

22. Buy fresh foods instead of frozen. Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.

23. Seek out and support local farmers markets. They reduce the amount of energy required to grow and transport the food to you by one fifth. You can find a farmer’s market in your area at the USDA website.

24. Buy organic foods as much as possible
. Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!

25. Avoid heavily packaged products. You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.

26. Eat less meat. Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.

27. Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit wherever possible. Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year! Click here to find transit options in your area.

28. Start a carpool with your coworkers or classmates. Sharing a ride with someone just 2 days a week will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 1,590 pounds a year. eRideShare.com runs a free national service connecting commuters and travelers.

29. Keep your car tuned up. Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.

30. Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated. Proper inflation can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Since every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, every increase in fuel efficiency makes a difference!

31. When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicle. You can save 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year if your new car gets only 3 miles per gallon more than your current one. You can get up to 60 miles per gallon with a hybrid! You can find information on fuel efficiency here and here.

32. Try car sharing. Need a car but don’t want to buy one? Community car sharing organizations provide access to a car and your membership fee covers gas, maintenance and insurance. Many companies – such as Flexcar -- offer low emission or hybrid cars too! Also, see ZipCar.

33. Try telecommuting from home. Telecommuting can help you drastically reduce the number of miles you drive every week. For more information, check out the Telework Coalition.

34. Fly less. Air travel produces large amounts of emissions so reducing how much you fly by even one or two trips a year can reduce your emissions significantly. You can also offset your air travel by investing in renewable energy projects.

Thanks again for looking!

-wendy

1 comment:

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