15 Concrete Steps You Can Take to Green Your Life
Courtesy of the US Environmental Protection Agency
Actions You Can Take at Home
- Change 5 lights
Change a light, and you help change the world. Replace the conventional bulbs in your 5 most frequently used light fixtures with bulbs that have the ENERGY STAR and you will help the environment while saving money on energy bills. If every household in the U.S. took this one simple action we would prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from nearly 10 million cars.
- Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products
When buying new products, such as appliances for your home, get the features and performance you want AND help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products in more than 50 product categories, including lighting, home electronics, heating and cooling equipment and appliances.
- Heat and cool smartly
Simple steps like cleaning air filters regularly and having your heating and cooling equipment tuned annually by a licensed contractor can save energy and increase comfort at home, and at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When it’s time to replace your old equipment, choose a high efficiency model, and make sure it is properly sized and installed.
- Seal and insulate your home
Sealing air leaks and adding more insulation to your home is a great do-it-yourself project. The biggest leaks are usually found in the attic and basement. If you are planning to replace windows, choose ENERGY STAR qualified windows for better performance. Forced air ducts that run through unconditioned spaces are often big energy wasters. Seal and insulate any ducts in attics and crawlspaces to improve the efficiency of your home. Not sure where to begin? A home energy auditor can also help you find air leaks, areas with poor insulation, and evaluate the over-all energy efficiency of your home. By taking these steps, you can eliminate drafts, keep your home more comfortable year round, save energy that would otherwise be wasted, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Use green power
Green power is environmentally friendly electricity that is generated from renewable energy sources such as wind and the sun. There are two ways to use green power: you can buy green power or you can modify your house to generate your own green power. Buying green power is easy, it offers a number of environmental and economic benefits over conventional electricity, including lower greenhouse gas emissions, and it helps increase clean energy supply. If you are interested, there are a number of steps you can take to create a greener home, including installing solar panels and researching incentives for renewable energy in your state.
- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
If there is a recycling program in your community, recycle your newspapers, beverage containers, paper and other goods. Use products in containers that can be recycled and items that can be repaired or reused. In addition, support recycling markets by buying products made from recycled materials. Reducing, reusing, and recycling in your home helps conserve energy and reduces pollution and greenhouse gases from resource extraction, manufacturing, and disposal.
- Be green in your yard
Use a push mower, which, unlike a gas or electric mower, consumes no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases. If you do use a power mower, make sure it is a mulching mower to reduce grass clippings. Composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage that you send to landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
- Use water efficiently
Saving water around the home is simple. Municipal water systems require a lot of energy to purify and distribute water to households, and saving water, especially hot water, can lower greenhouse gas emissions. Look for products with EPA’s WaterSense label; these products save water and perform as well or better than their less efficient counterparts. There are also simple actions you can take to save water: Be smart when irrigating your lawn or landscape; only water when needed and do it during the coolest part of the day, early morning is best. Turn the water off while shaving or brushing teeth. Do not use your toilet as a waste basket – water is wasted with each flush. And did you know a leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day? Repair all toilet and faucet leaks right away.
- Spread the Word
Tell family and friends that energy efficiency is good for their homes and good for the environment because it lowers greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Tell 5 people and together we can help our homes help us all.
Actions You Can Take on the Road
- Buy smart
Before buying a new or used vehicle (or even before renting a vehicle), check out EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide and the jointly-run EPA/DOE Fuel Economy Guide Web site. These resources provide information about the emissions and fuel economy performance of different vehicles. The Green Vehicle Guide provides detailed information on emissions (including Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas scores for each model) and the Fuel Economy Guide focuses on fuel efficiency (including side-by-side fuel economy comparisons and a customized fuel cost calculator). These Web sites are designed to help you choose the cleanest, most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your needs. There are a wide range of cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles available on the market today that produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
- Drive smart
Many factors affect the fuel economy of your car. To improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, go easy on the brakes and gas pedal, avoid hard accelerations, reduce time spent idling and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you have a removable roof rack and you are not using it, take it off to improve your fuel economy by as much as 5 percent. Use overdrive and cruise control on your car if you have those features. For more tips to improve your gas mileage, visit the Fuel Economy Guide Web site.
- Tune your ride
A well-maintained car is more fuel-efficient, produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, is more reliable, and is safer! Keep your car well tuned, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, and use the recommended grade of motor oil. Also check and replace your vehicle’s air filter regularly.
- Check your tires
Check your tire pressure regularly. Under-inflation increases tire wear, reduces your fuel economy by up to 3 percent, and leads to increased emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. If you don’t know the correct tire pressure for your vehicle, you can find it listed on the door to the glove compartment or on the driver’s-side door pillar.
- Give your car a break
Use public transportation, carpool or walk or bike whenever possible to avoid using your car. Leaving your car at home just two days a week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year. Whenever possible, combine activities and errands into one trip. For daily commuting, consider options like telecommuting (working from home via phone or over the Internet) that can reduce the stress of commuting, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save you money.
- Use Renewable Fuels
Both E85 and biodiesel are renewable fuels that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from your vehicle. E85 is a fuel blend containing 85% ethanol that can be used in certain vehicles called Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs). FFVs can be fueled with E85 or with traditional gasoline. There are approximately 6 million FFVs on the road today. To find out if you own one of them, check the inside of your car’s fuel filler door for an identification sticker or consult your owner’s manual. If you own a diesel vehicle, consider filling up with a biodiesel blend such as B5, a fuel blend containing 5% biodiesel. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from agricultural resources such as vegetable oils. The Department of Energy’s Alternative Fueling Station Locator can help you locate both E85 and biodiesel fuel stations in your area.
These Action Steps are courtesy of the authorities at the US Environmental Protection Agency. Please visit their site for more info: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/actionsteps.html