Citing numerous measurements, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has shown that the past dozen years include the 10 warmest years on record. Over the past century, the overall global temperature has jumped 1.4 degrees. (See References 1) Although that doesn’t sound like much, any sustained temperature increase warms our oceans. This in turn melts polar ice, raises sea levels, destroys habitat for marine life and changes climate patterns. However, there are several things you can do to reduce your personal contribution to the greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate global warming.
Change Your Bulbs
The Environmental Protection Agency states that if everyone in the United States changed only five incandescent light bulbs in their home to compact fluorescent bulbs, LED bulbs or halogen lamps, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide would equal the emissions from almost 10 million cars. Just remember, you don’t have to stop at five.
Buy More-Efficient Products
When you’re looking for a new appliance, electronic device or car, look for the model that uses the least energy within your price range. A good place to start with appliances and electronics is to find those rated as Energy Star compliant. Although there are only a handful of electric car models available, many car manufacturers now offer at least one gas-electric hybrid model. Before heading to the car lot, you can compare gas mileage on the EPA Green Vehicle Guide website. (See References 2, 4)
When shopping for products, choose the item with the least amount of packaging. Packaging requires energy to produce, and increased package sizes means fewer items can fit in one shipment, thus increasing the number of vehicles needed to bring products to your store’s shelf. One key method to reduce packaging waste is to not purchase bottled water. If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, install a filter on your faucet. Recycling paper, metal and plastic and composting food scraps are also simple ways you can reduce waste. Finally, reusing any product gives it a new life and keeps it out of the landfill. (See References 2)
Increase Your Personal Efficiency
There are a vast number of ways you can increase your own efficiency and reduce energy use. On the road, plan your outings to combine car trips, make sure your car is tuned and that your tires are at the correct pressure, and run a few of your errands on foot or by bike. At home you can exchange your gas mower for a push mower, install insulation and seal off drafts, and fix any dripping faucets or leaking toilets. (See References 2, 4)
Install Solar Panels
Although they aren’t a part of everyone’s budget, installing solar panels allows you to make use of the sun’s renewable energy. Some states and power companies offer incentives to help offset the cost of installation. Even if you can’t go solar, some power companies offer an option to purchase electricity produced from renewable sources for a small fee added onto your power bill.