Climate change is moving from scientific theory to everyday fact. Global warming effects are beginning to filter down to the average person’s day-to-day experiences. Record heat waves are hitting the U.S. Larger forest fires are burning entire cities. Historic flooding events are inundating coastal areas. Hurricanes are getting more frequent and destructive. Climate change is even affecting outdoor recreation activities. Average U.S. citizens are starting to feel the consequences, yet many still aren’t making personal adjustments to their lifestyles. But it’s easy when you start at home. Here are five ways you can conserve energy and shrink your carbon footprint without leaving the house.
Use Smart Home Technology
Investing in smart technology can be a real game-changer for saving energy with minimal effort. Many smart home devices save energy for you. All you need to do is install them. Popular smart home tech includes thermostats, appliances, lightbulbs, electrical plugs, motion sensors, and home hubs.
Smart appliances like smart hot water heaters and clothes dryers use artificial intelligence to learn your daily routines. Hot water systems can adjust their heating schedules based on when you do laundry — only heating the water before it’s time. And smart clothes dryers adjust their operation when alternative energy sources are more available.
Smart lighting systems used with motion detectors remember to turn the lights off for you. Enter a room, the light comes on. Leave, and it turns itself off. Even if you accidentally leave the lights on while away, you can control your smart devices from your smartphone. That’s saving the planet and money at the same time.
Upgrade your Appliances
Even if you don’t want to invest in a smart appliance, consider upgrading to a newer model. Modern appliances like dishwashers, clothes washers, and dryers benefit from newer technology that saves energy and water.
Look for Energy Star certified appliances models. Energy Star clothes washers use 25% less energy and 33% less water than standard models. And dishwashers benefit from technology like soil sensors and innovative rack designs to reduce run time and water consumption.
Replace Incandescent Bulbs
Change out your older incandescent bulbs with newer lighting technology. Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are more efficient and last longer. Both bulb types produce less heat when operating. So, they won’t contribute to over-heating your home during the summer months.
Today’s LED bulbs can cut your energy use by more than 80%. And a good brand will last more than three years. An LED smart bulb is also programmable, and some models can even change colors. Prices for CFLs and LEDs have dropped over the last few years. So, they’re a simple, affordable investment for reducing your carbon footprint.
Weatherize Your Home
Weatherizing your home is about managing airflow, which can be good or bad. Bad airflow comes from cracks around windows and doors that let in cold air during the winter and hot air during the summer. Good airflow keeps your home from overheating. For example, broken or faulty attic fans won’t push hot air out of your attic. And a hot envelope of air builds up over your home, which wears it like a fur hat in the summer.
To weatherize your home, caulk and weatherstrip your doors and windows. Inspect attic fans and remove any debris that can obstruct airflow. Make sure your chimney flue is working properly or seal it up with a chimney balloon. Fill up gaps in your home’s exterior brick, molding, and window sills with foam sealant. Any cracks will cause airflow where you don’t want it — inside your walls. Air sealing your home is cheap and easy and can reduce your energy consumption.
Change Your Everyday Habits
If adjusting to climate change requires anything from us, it’s to change our daily routines. Simple adjustments to how we do laundry or cook can add up over time to reduce our energy consumption. Try adopting these simple but effective habits:
- Wash your clothes in cold water.
- Replace your home’s HVAC filters regularly. Set a calendar reminder.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezers full of food. They use less energy.
- Close your window shades or blinds during the summer and open them during the winter.
- Set your computer to go into sleep mode after 15 minutes of inactivity.
- Use your ceiling fans. And switch their rotations for summer and winter.
- Keep your oven door closed. Use the oven light instead.
- Cook outside during the summer to keep from heating your home.
- Run your clothes washer and dishwasher at night.
- Charge your phone during the day. Don’t leave it plugged in all night.
As an everyday consumer and homeowner, it’s easy to feel powerless against the effects of climate change. But there’s more you can do than you think, especially when you start at home. Around 12% of total U.S. greenhouse emissions come from commercial and residential properties. So, using the collective power of homeowners can result in significant levels of energy conservation.
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