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Cutting Your Home’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Apr 25, 2014

The typical homeowner may not realize it, but their home’s greenhouse gas emissions are a greater source of pollution than even their car. According to ENERGY STAR®:

  • American homes are responsible for 21% of the nation’s energy use.
  • The average home releases twice as much harmful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as the average vehicle.
  • The residential sector contributes 335 million metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere each year.
  • The typical American household spends $1,900 per year on energy bills, half of which are for heating and cooling costs.

However, there are simple steps you can take that will cut your home’s greenhouse gas emissions, save energy and money, and increase your home comfort.

1. Switch to Energy Efficient Lighting

Identify the five most frequently used light fixtures in your home and either replace them with ENERGY STAR qualified light fixtures or energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Energy efficient lighting generates 75% less heat, uses about 75% less energy than standard lighting, and lasts from 10 to 50 times longer. Not only is this good for the environment but you could save up to $70 annually on your energy bills as well.

2. Invest in ENERGY STAR Appliances and Electronics

ENERGY STAR qualified products are certified to save energy without sacrificing features or functionality. ENERGY STAR labeled products can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 130,000 pounds and save you $11,000 on energy bills. There are over 60 kinds of products that carry the ENERGY STAR label, including appliances, lighting, heating and cooling equipment, electronics, and office equipment.

3. Maintain Your Heating and Cooling Equipment

Nearly half of your energy costs can be attributed to heating and cooling – nearly $1,000 annually! However, taking action like changing air filters regularly, using a programmable thermostat, and having your heating and cooling equipment serviced regularly by a certified RESNET contractor can save energy, increase comfort and help protect the environment.

4. Properly Seal and Insulate Your Home

Comprehensive air sealing and proper insulation can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 20%. Caulking, weather stripping and adding insulation where needed will reduce air leaks and stop drafts.

5. Practice the Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

One of the most effective ways to conserve energy, and reduce pollution and greenhouse gases is by practicing the three R’s in your home: reduce, reuse and recycle. This means:

  • Recycling newspapers, beverage containers, paper, and other goods.
  • Composting food and yard waste to reduce the amount of garbage going to landfills, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

6. Conserve Water in Your Home

Saving water reduces greenhouse gas emissions; in fact, 3% of the nation’s energy is used to pump and treat water. There are simple measures you can take to reduce your water consumption, such as:

  • Don’t run the water when shaving or brushing teeth.
  • Repair all toilet and faucet leaks immediately; a leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day.
  • Run your dishwasher only with a full load to save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide and $40 per year.
  • Invest in products carrying the WaterSense label.

7. Green Your Yard

By composting your food and yard waste, you can reduce the amount of garbage that you send to landfills, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The amount of greenhouse gases produced by a home is tied directly to its energy efficiency; a more energy efficient home has fewer greenhouse gas emissions. To learn more about making your home energy efficient, contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor for an energy audit. An energy audit will show you where your home is losing energy and provide you with cost-effective solutions to make your home more energy efficient.