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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint and Save Money!!

Whether you believe global warming is our biggest issue or a government hoax I think we should all agree that it is a good idea to try and make our life a little more enjoyable by reducing some of the carbon in the atmosphere.

I think some of the liberal elites and more radical conservationists would have us believe that costs a lot of money. That doesn't always have to be the case. It can be as simple as shutting off the lights when you leave a room!

created a list of twelve ideas that cost very little (or are smart financial decisions) but can make a large impact. I've listed my thoughts after each item!

1. Skip a trip. Did you know that forgoing a single international trip just might offset all of the carbon emissions produced by running your car and your home over the course of a year? On top of that, you’ll save a decent chunk of money by sitting tight (unless, of course, it’s a business trip that you’re skipping). That's an interesting number - we aren't planning on traveling internationally anytime soon. The last major trip I took included some carbon saving portions such as public transportation and taking the Megabus.

2. Hire someone to seal up your house. Simply sealing leaks around windows and doors and insulating ducts could save you upwards of $100/year and reduce your carbon emissions by at least 1,000 pounds per year. If you’re too lazy to do this yourself, hire someone. We rent, but our landlords pay the gas bill! They actually did get all the windows replaced or sealed or something before we moved in!

3. Work from home. Instead of carpooling or taking mass transit, a much easier and more effective way of reducing your time in transit (and the resulting cost and environmental impact) is to telecommute. While this isn’t always possible (consider blue collar jobs, or those in the service industry) doing this just once a week cuts you commuting costs by 20% straightaway. Moreover, companies like American Express have apparently found that telecommuting actually increases worker productivity. Not everyone can sit in their pajamas all day at home! I take public transit every day to work and we reduced Christy's commute mileage from 50 - 8 by moving here and we walk to a lot more places.

4. Drive a fuel-efficient car. Spend a bit of extra time picking out a fuel-efficient car and you’ll automatically save a decent chunk of gas money, and pollute considerably less, over the life of your car. Our Honda gets over 30 mpg and sometimes close to 35!!!

5. Use cruise control. With the possible exception of driving in hilly terrain, cruise control is a great way to save gas. Indeed, tests have found that using cruise control can improve mileage by as much as 7%. I’ve seen this myself in real life, as I’m a big fan of cruise control and my wife isn’t. Guess who gets better mileage on long roadtrips? Me. By a long shot. Even better: adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjust speed to keep you at a safe distance from cars around you. Blah, blah, blah... I don't really buy some of these things. This one might actually work but the whole slow down thing bunk in my opinion. On a recent trip to Indiana when I drove at about 80 I got better mileage than when I drove at 80 and our friends drove at 70 or 75. It is more about where your car runs most efficiently. "Sorry officer, I was trying to improve gas mileage by speeding up!"

6. Cool your water heating bills. Check the temperature on your water heater and, if necessary, lower it to 120 degrees. Beyond this, whenever possible you should wash your clothes in cold instead of hot water. Landlord pays for it and we are all on the same unit.

7. Don’t wash the dishes. While it’s possible to wash your dishes by hand using a relatively small amount of water, most people keep the faucet running while they do this chore. Instead, load up the dishwasher and run it. Assuming that it’s full, you’ll save about 30% of the water that you would’ve otherwise used. Moreover, you should skip the pre-rinse (take that, Mom!) and just let the dishwasher do its thing. We do this now!! But our washer doesn't get all the gunk off so we still have to pre-wash.

8. Use a laptop, and let it nap. Replacing a desktop computer and display with an energy-efficient laptop, and setting it to go to sleep when not in use, can save a substantial chunk of money — and reduce carbon emissions by as much as 500 pounds per year. That's an interesting stat.. we both have laptops although her HP doesn't automatically sleep when you shut the top like mine. I wonder if some brands are better than others...

9. Drink tap water. Why lug bottles of what is essentially tap water home from the store with you when you can just open the spigot and pour a glass? You’ll not only save a ton of money, but you’ll also save the carbon emissions associated with bottling that water and hauling it to its ultimate destination. Do this most of the time! Hope I don't get cancer or whatever from reusing the bottles.

10. Stay married. Converting one household into two means bigger utility bill and more greenhouse gases. Not to mention mountains of legal bills. A recent study out of Michigan State University estimated that divorced families consumed and extra 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, corresponding to an extra 6,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per household. Yea I was planning on that!! I guess this is another good reason to stay married :)

11. Consider carbon offsets, but be careful. If you’re too lazy to do any of these things yourself, you can always pay someone to offset your emissions for you. Just be sure to work with an entity that actually does what it says. Here’s a nice summary. Nah... that costs money!

12. Support carbon taxes. A variety of experts on both sides of the aisle have argued that imposing a carbon tax on gasoline, coal, and other fuel sources would be the simplest and most efficient way to reduce carbon emissions. In essence, this would be a surcharge that’s based on the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a given amount of fuel. Because this will place yet another burden on businesses and consumers, some have argued that the revenue should then be used to fund income tax cuts or direct rebates. I doubt it would really change anything in the short-term.

1 comment:

Douglas said...

Slowing down by 10 mpg makes a huge difference because wind resistance goes up with the square of speed. While there is something to be said about operating in your vehicles most efficient speed range, the relationship of efficiency to speed is not exponential, so that's a losing battle overall. I don't know of any vehicle that operates most efficiently at 80 mpg. Slowing down to somewhere between 60 and 70 mpg would certainly save you money and reduce your carbon footprint.