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Everyday Sustainable Living: Three Simple Steps for Going Green

Updated on December 14, 2010

Thinking about reducing your carbon footprint? Don’t know where to start? Here are three super-easy, cheap tricks that will help you reduce carbon emissions and save you money:

Replace standard light bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs.  Florescent bulbs have nearly three times the lifespan of regular bulbs saving you from those annoying frequent bulb changes.  They use considerably less energy than the old bulbs which saves you money on your electricity bill. Consider this: for every bulb you replace you will save nearly $40 on your electricity bill over the life of the bulb (energystar.gov). Not to mention that they also emit a fraction of the greenhouse gases of standard bulbs, which is the ultimate goal of reducing your carbon footprint, right?  (Find out more at energystar.gov).

Stop buying bottled water. We are hearing a lot lately about how plastic water bottles are contaminating the oceans and taking up valuable landfill space. According to the New York Environmental Protection Agency, only 10% of all water bottles sold are recycled. With over 31 billion water bottles bought by Americans each year, that’s a lot of plastic bottles being thrown away.

But what happens after the plastic water bottles are thrown away is only one part of the story. Tons of green house gases are emitted through the manufacturing of plastic water bottles. Billions of gallons of crude oil are used each year just to make these little polluters. Then, of course, the bottles have to be shipped to stores, requiring even more oil and gasoline for the trucks. (Find out more at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/materials_minerals_pdf/waterbottles.pdf).

An easy solution: Start carrying a stainless steel water bottle and fill up with tap water, instead. It’s cheap (about 1/100th of the cost of bottled water) and easy. If you are worried about the quality of your tap water, consider installing a home filtration system. There are many easy-to-install, affordable options available.

Lower your thermostat. The U.S. Department of Energy encourages us to set our thermostats at 68° (F) in the winter and 78° in the summer (http://www.energysavers.gov). They also suggest lowering your thermostat even further at night or when you won’t be home for an extended amount of time (four hours or more).  The saving can add up: lowering your thermostat 10°-15° can save anywhere for 5-15% on your heating bill. An average homeowner could save nearly $150 a year.

By turning down your thermostat and adding a blanket or two to your bed, you can save thousands of pounds of carbon emissions each year. Turning it up in the summer can have the same effect!

 

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    • KateMcGregor profile imageAUTHOR

      Katie Griffith 

      7 years ago from Cheyenne, Wyoming

      Another great resource from the Environmental Protection Agency: How to Clean-up a Broken Compact Florescent Light

      Check it out at: http://epa.gov/cfl/cflcleanup.pdf

    • KateMcGregor profile imageAUTHOR

      Katie Griffith 

      7 years ago from Cheyenne, Wyoming

      Hi tmbridgeland. Check out this link: http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/reviews/news/...

      Popular Mechanics tested seven types of compact florescents. It helped us to decide which brand of bulb to put into our house. We've had more luck lately with these kinds of bulbs than in the past.

    • tmbridgeland profile image

      tmbridgeland 

      7 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      I have had bad luck with the coiled bulbs. They break easily, and burn out a lot faster than the advertised life. Then you have to wonder about the mercury.

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