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Free Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Updated on April 24, 2011

What is a carbon footprint?

Carbon footprint (Co2 footprint), as defined by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is “a measure of the greenhouse gases that are produced by activities of a person, a family, a school or a business that involve burning fossil fuels.” Today, the average North American's individual carbon footprint is ~40,000 pounds of CO2 per year. This is twice as much as the average in England and three times as many as that of an individual in France. With global climate change occurring, people need to do everything they can to reduce their impact on the environment. The trouble is, the majority of people don’t know how they can reduce their impact. Also, many people are currently going through economic troubles and don't know that reducing your carbon footprint can not only be free, but can save money as well (some of these steps will cause noticeable immediate savings)!

Free Ways To Reduce Your Individual Carbon Footprint (Co2 Footprint)

The free ways to reduce your carbon footprint are simple household lifestyle changes that seem miniscule, but actually have a drastic impact on the environment. In the long run, following these steps will reduce your impact on the environment and will save you money. By following these steps, you can reduce your carbon footprint by ~7,500 pounds of CO2 per year.

Turn off all electronics when they are not in use. This reduces your home’s energy expense, which in turn reduces the amount of CO2 you’ve produced. Turning one television off when not in use can save an average of ~600 pounds of CO2 per year and can shave ~$100 off of your energy bill (numbers may vary depending on actual use of the television throughout the year). Simply powering down your computer before going to sleep is 10x more energy efficient than leaving it on.

Turn down the central air conditioner in the home by a few degrees. The air conditioner in the home accounts for 16% of residential electricity consumption. When figuring out savings, the average equation used is every one degree is equivalent to three percent energy savings. Efficient control over air conditioning and heating can result in an average saving of ~4,000 pounds of CO2 per year.

When doing dishes or laundry, only use the appliances when running a full load. Large appliances like dishwashers, clothes washers, and clothes driers require a significant amount of energy for each use. Instead of doing half-loads on a whim, wait until you've got a full load of laundry or a full dishwasher before running the machine. Using the "full-load" system not only saves water, but also decreases your carbon footprint by ~350 pounds of CO2 per year. (The energy spent in using the washing machines comes primarily from heating the water.)

Recycle. Recycling has a number of beneficial qualities in regards to carbon footprint and reducing global climate change. Recycling not only saves energy and decreases CO2 emissions, but also creates jobs, promotes sustainability, and conserves natural resources. Doing research on recycling in your area can be the easiest way to find out what exactly can be recycled and the processes of going about it (perform a Google search for "recycling in city, state"). If a person recycled everything they possibly could throughout the year, it would lead to a savings of ~2,000 pounds of CO2 per year.

When grocery shopping, shop for long periods of time. What I mean by this is, instead of buying groceries for one night, try buying for the next two weeks. This will reduce the number of times you have to go to the grocery store. Also, shopping locally reduces the number of miles driven, which in turn reduces the amount of CO2 burned. CO2 savings will vary based on cars, distances traveled, and performance.

Fully inflate the tires on all automobiles. This raises the car’s miles per gallon rating and can save you a ton of money on gas (as of this writing, premium gas in my area is $4.00 a gallon). Keeping car tires fully inflated year round can save an average of ~300 pounds of CO2 per year.

Using the techniques discussed above will not only lower your monthly energy bills, but will also lower your carbon footprint (Co2 footprint), which lowers your impact on the environment. How can you afford not to?

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    • Mark Sparks profile image

      Mark Sparks 6 years ago from Charlottesville, Virginia

      nice tips, I wish more people would follow them. voted up and useful!