Reducing Impacts When Traveling
Almost one third of the carbon dioxide produced in the United States comes from our cars, trucks and airplanes. Here are some simple, practical things you can do to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide you produce while on the move.
Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit. 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once you've reduced your emissions as much as possible, consider offsetting the remainder of your emissions. By offsetting, you can help fund valuable restoration projects and help the growing renewable energy market. Here are a few examples:
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 purchase at a very small price.
Support renewable energy projects Support Native-American owned wind projects, as well as small to medium-sized wind projects located on Wisconsin farms and developed by the Wisconsin company Seventh Generation Energy SystemsSupport other carbon-reduction projects around the world The Climate Trust is one of many examples of organizations supporting technologies and projects that either reduce carbon emissions for help to sequester amounts already in the air.
Reducing Impacts at Home
Most emissions from homes are from the fossil fuels burned to generate electricity and heat. By using energy more efficiently at home, you can reduce your emissions and lower your energy bills by more than 30%. Since agriculture is responsible for about one fifth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, you can reduce your emissions simply by watching what you eat. Here are some action tips:
Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl). 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 Follow the safeguards on clean disposal since these do contain a small amount of mercury.
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.
Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner. Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
Install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats will automatically lower the heat or air conditioning at night and raise them again in the morning. They can save you $100 a year on your energy bill.
Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases. Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances to choose the mostefficient 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Save Water Printable Water Saving Tips
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.
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.
Buy Products that are packaged in recyclable and environmental degradable materials. Look at the packaging used on products before buying. Avoid those that can't be recycled or products that can actually be a waste of money for what might otherwise be considered as a convenience. Example is bottled water.
Buy recycled paper products. It takes less 70 to 90% less energy to make recycled paper and it prevents the loss of forests worldwide.
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.
Switch to green power. You can purchase renewable energy from your local energy provider. Find out what renewable energy programs your local energy provider offers by clicking here. Or install renewable energy products, like wind generation and solar water heating in your own home.
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.
Buy fresh foods instead of frozen. Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.
Seek out and support local farmers markets. They reduce the amount of energy required to grow and transport the food to you by onefifth. You can find a farmer's market in your area at the USDA website.
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!
Avoid heavily packaged products. You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.
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.
Calculating Your Environmental Impacts
SafeClimate Carbon Dioxide Footprint Calculator SafeClimate's calculator allows individuals to calculate their "carbon footprint" and track their residential and transportation energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Emissions Calculator The emissions calculator tabulates your monthly emissions of seven air pollutants (in pounds) from electricity and natural gas consumption, airplane trips, and vehicle miles traveled (auto or sport utility vehicle/truck) and compares them with average national emissions.
Personal Environmental Impact Calculator Calculates personal environmental impacts from home energy, transportation, recycling habits and water usage.
Travel Matters Emissions Calculators Travel Matters provides a trio of resources - interactive emissions calculators, online emissions maps, and educational content - that emphasize the relationship between more efficient transit systems and lower greenhouse gas emissions. TM's Emissions Calculator shows how much carbon dioxide you emit based to your travel decisions.
Carbon Counter Carboncounter.org is an individual carbon dioxide emissions calculator.
Energy Advisor / Home Energy Saver Home Energy Saver is designed to identify the best ways to save energy in your home, and find the resources to make the savings happen. In addition, the Home Energy Saver's "Making it Happen" and Energy Librarian" can connect you to "how-to" information on the Internet.
Home Analyzer Home Analyzer is designed to provide a comprehensive analysis of energy use in your home, descriptions of measures to reduce energy use, and comparisons to similar homes.
Home Energy Checkup Home Energy Checkup helps identify options for reducing energy costs through energy efficiency improvements. Includes references to more sophisticated software tools, equipment manufacturers, and other sources of information for energy efficiency projects.