How to decrease your home’s carbon footprint

Home buyers and owners from coast to coast have zeroed in on cost and energy-saving features in an effort to boost sustainability and make homes more efficient and cost effective. There are many simple and effective ways to reduce home energy use simply by adjusting personal habits. Turning off lights and adjusting the temperature settings are a good start. More efficient plumbing fixtures and faucets, appliances, and heating and cooling systems also reduce the electric load and water consumption and save money. However, it may be surprising to note that only about 30% of the average American’s carbon footprint comes from home energy use. Even though more conservative energy use is advisable, there are other ways to make a bigger impact on the environment.  

How to do more

Data from the Union of Concerned Scientists on the Global Stewards website confirms that heating and cooling constitutes 17 percent of a home’s energy use, while other energy use comprises 15 percent of the total. The two best ways to make an immediate impact on household carbon footprint, then, according to Global Stewards recommendations is  to switch to a “renewable energy option” through your local service provider. In addition, consumers who are interested in calculating their personal carbon footprints can consider buying carbon offsets from a certified provider. These two steps are critical, according to the group. As more citizens make the jump to renewable energy in the home, reducing carbon footprint in other ways — including transportation, food and other purchases — become more viable for individuals, businesses, organizations and governments to address.  

Changing the home’s infrastructure

Owners can also make a difference in their home’s energy quotient, according to the pros, in the following ways:
  • Add solar panels to your roof
  • Buy and install only Energy Star rated equipment
  • Add additional insulation
  • Weatherstrip all doors and windows
  • Seal cracks and eliminate drafts
  • Replace single-pane windows on older homes, with modern thermal-pane, Low-E rated brands
  • Change to programmable thermostats
  • Embrace technology and home automation to control heating and cooling, lighting and irrigation
  • Schedule a home energy audit, and addressing the “energy drains” that are detected
Residential and commercial builders worldwide have made great strides in addressing energy use, green standards, and building “health” in recent years. LEED certification is a standard for new construction, and builders and remodelers recognize the value of modern energy-saving standards, even when sustainable materials and standards are not mandated by code.  

Individual action counts

As effective as these widespread efforts are, however, the global reduction of harmful emissions requires additional individual attention. To learn more about what families and groups can do to effect change in local communities, become involved in action groups and educational efforts that focus attention on solutions rather than dire predictions. The Zero-Volt Challenge: It’s possible to reduce your energy bill with a few simple lifestyle changes. Print the worksheet, identify major energy drains and follow the instructions to make a big dent in your bill. Obviously, if everyone did the same, national energy consumption would be lowered. Other actions include:
  • Joining a local or national organization to spread the word and educate citizens.
  • Educating yourself, embracing positive change in your own home, and then moving on to other areas of life and activity, as you choose.
  • Supporting the ongoing development of renewable energy sources.
  • Investigating global concerns, developments and efforts to reduce the world’s carbon footprint.
***** By Preston Guyton REALTOR® 

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