Our homes played a significant role in our lives during 2020, and it seems that the trend is continuing into 2021. Although it has been a challenging year for many, some positives were derived from it. Many of us have transitioned into working from our homes, acquiring new hobbies, and revisiting old ones, spending quality time with ourselves and our immediate families, connecting with mother nature, and genuinely doing our best to find joy in slowing down.
Although we are lowering our costs and energy use by cutting back or eliminating our commute to work and the need for office space, we are merely displacing some of it by spending so much time at home and ensuring we are comfortable. Our households are significant environmental polluters, especially now that we are under a global pandemic. Many of the polluters in our homes are costly and play a key role in our carbon footprint. Below is a chart that breaks down the top 5 household energy users with their estimated related costs per year, kilowatt-hours used, and pounds of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
*The information in the below chart is collected from the US Energy Information Administration.
Top 5 Household Energy Users
Five Easy Ways to Save
Several factors contribute to the amount of energy individual households use, such as climate and geographic location, type of home, the type/amount/efficiency of energy-consuming devices, duration of use, and how many people occupy the household.
Of course, if you are a homeowner, there are significant energy and cost-saving changes you can make to your home, such as reinsulating, winterizing, or replacing old units. However, there are also smaller changes that both homeowners and renters can take advantage of. Below, we break down five easy ways to reduce your household emissions.
1. Smart Thermostat/Programming Thermostat
Smart thermostats are growing in popularity. Not only do they make it possible to adjust your heating and cooling system settings from virtually anywhere using your computer, tablet, or mobile phone, but additionally, they generate significant energy and cost-saving benefits. Since energy use is a primary polluter, adjusting or programming your smart thermostat while asleep, at work, on vacation, or away from home can dramatically minimize your environmental impact and reap cost-saving benefits of up to 10% per year.
We understand that not all homes have a heating or cooling system easily programmable or operated with a smart thermostat. If your home uses alternative sources, such as a heat pump, electric resistance heating, steam heat, or radiant floor heating, there are still options for cutting down your energy use and utility bills. You can find additional information on these systems and your options here.
2. Clean Refrigerator Coils
Refrigerators are one of the main energy-hogging appliances in our homes. Reducing the energy used to keep it running efficiently is simple, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and will result in savings on your electric bill.
The best option to save energy when it has to do with your refrigerator is to clean the coils. This task can reduce the amount of energy it uses to keep your food fresh and cold by up to 30 percent!
Keeping your fridge and freezer clean and organized is an additional way to cut back on energy and cost. Try to be mindful that your fridge and freezer are neither jam-packed so that air can circulate adequately, nor empty, so there is something to retain the cold when the door is open.
3. Showerhead Swap
Standard showerheads use about 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Of course, there is the option of either taking a bath or limiting your shower’s length to cut down on your water bill and the energy used to heat the water. However, a quick and easy switch to install a low-flow showerhead is most effective.
A common misconception is that these showerheads do not have the same water pressure and temperature capabilities as a standard showerhead; however, this misconception is merely untrue. With the use of technology developed over the years, you can now have a satisfying shower experience while saving money, thousands of gallons of water each year, and being kinder to our planet.
Pro-tip: Look for the WaterSense label when shopping for a new showerhead.
4. Using Cold Water for Laundry
You can cut your laundry’s energy use in half by making the effortless switch to cold water instead of using warm or hot. There are plenty of cold-water detergents available to ensure your wash is sanitized effectively if that is concerning.
Bonus: Cold water will prevent your clothing’s color from fading so quickly, and you will see the saving’s in your bill, just like the tips previously mentioned.
5. Weather Stripping & Insulation for Attic/Crawl Space Hatches
As anyone with an attic or crawl space knows, there is typically a direct pathway for cold or hot air to naturally travel into the occupied areas of your home, which in turn leads to energy loss. Although this upgrade to reducing household emissions might not be as simple as tips 1-4, it is still relatively easy and effective in minimizing wasted energy and saving money.
The attic hatch is a panel in the dry-walled ceiling, often located in your home’s closet or hallway. To learn more about how to install weather stripping insulation in your home, click here.
A great way to be part of the solution to a cleaner and greener planet is by carbon offsetting. Carbon offsetting is the act of compensating for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the purchase and application of certificates representing an equivalent amount of GHGs voluntarily reduced by another entity that has invested in carbon reduction sequestration projects. Each carbon offset represents one metric ton (approximately 2,205 lbs.) of carbon dioxide reduced. By calculating your household emissions, you will better understand what you are emitting into the Earth’s atmosphere. By purchasing offsets to mitigate your footprint, you can support a project of your liking, reach your sustainability goals, and be part of the fight against climate change. Learn more about how to calculate and offset your carbon footprint by visiting ClimeCo Green.
Making these small changes in your lifestyle can significantly impact your savings account and, more importantly, our beautiful home, planet earth. Start by creating a list, placing each item in order of priority, and checking off each one until you reach your personal goal of reducing your household emissions.