Make Your Home Carbon Neutral

Learn how to decrease your carbon emissions at home.

| March/April 2007

There’s a worldwide buzz over global warming and how to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas that contributes to the problem. See how much your house creates—and then find ways to cut back by following these three steps.

1. Calculate Your Home’s Emissions

Burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas to generate electricity and heat releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We create CO2 each time we use the air conditioner, drive a car or turn on the computer. You can figure how many tons of CO2 you produce in a year by visiting an online carbon calculator, which will prompt you to enter information on your house’s size, number of people who live there, gas and electric bills, and your vehicles. Check or

2. Reduce Your Impact at Home

By using energy more efficiently at home, you can reduce your emissions and lower your energy bills by more than 30 percent. Here’s how:

1. Replace an incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL).
2. Set your thermostat 2 degrees cooler in winter and 2 degrees warmer in summer.
3. Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner.
4. Choose energy-efficient appliances. Look for the Energy Star label on new models. 
5. Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket and set the thermostat no higher than 120˚F.
6. Use less hot water by installing a low-flow showerhead and by washing clothes in cold or warm water.
7. Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible.
8. Turn off electronic devices such as the stereo, computer and TV when you’re not using them.
9. Unplug electronics from the wall when they’re not in use. Even when turned off, items such as hairdryers, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy.
10. Only run your dishwasher when there’s a full load, and use the energy-saving setting.
11. Insulate your home and weatherize with caulking and weather-stripping.
12. Recycle.
13. Buy recycled paper products to prevents loss of forests. Plus, it takes 70 to 90 percent less energy to make recycled paper.
14. Plant a tree. A single tree absorbs 1 ton of CO2 over its lifetime. Shade from trees also reduces air conditioning bills.
15. Get a home energy audit. Many utilities providers will help you improve energy efficiency.
16. Switch to green power generated by clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar.
17. Buy locally grown foods to save fuel.
18. Buy fresh foods instead of frozen. Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to store.
19. Support local farmer’s markets; they greatly reduce the    energy required to transport food.
20. Buy organic foods; organic soils capture and store CO2 at higher levels.
21. Avoid heavily packaged products.
22. Eat less beef. Cows are one of the greatest emitters of methane, a significant greenhouse gas.
23. Walk, bike, carpool, take mass transit or telecommute.
24. Keep your car tuned up and your tires properly inflated to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
25. Choose a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

3. Buy Carbon Offsets

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