10 ways you can make an individual contribution to cut carbon emissions

on November 21, 2018

The challenges we face as a result of global warming can seem overwhelming. Even as countless states, communities, and companies take a lead—investing in renewable energy and efficiency—individual action can seem ineffective. But, it's not!

Everyone can contribute and help make and impact. There are countless ways to participate. Check out these ten individual ways you can do your part to help support clean energy, and push back against climate change.

1.Reduce your dependency on your car.

This one is pretty simple to follow; use your car less (whenever you can). Look, we’re not here to tell you never use your car again. If everyone cut out one short trip, or carpooled one day a week, the combined impact could be huge. If you can, ride, bike, or walk instead.

If you have to use your car frequently, but still want to make an impact on your commute, check out what making the switch to a hybrid or all-electric vehicle can do.

2.If you are behind the wheel, don’t speed.

Not only is speeding against the law, but the extraordinary and unnecessary acceleration could end up hurting your car's efficiency. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15 percent to 30 percent at highway speeds and 10 percent to 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic.”

3.Make sure your car tires are properly inflated.

Keeping your tires filled with air can improve your gas mileage up to 3 percent, per the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. When your tires aren’t properly inflated, your gas mileage can lower .2 percent for every 1 psi drop.

Keeping your tires inflated is needed to maintain good gas mileage, which will help your vehicle cover more ground on a full tank of gas–savings the air and your wallet together.

4.Try to avoid traffic at all costs.

No one wants to get stuck in traffic. The good news: avoiding traffic can help the environment too! Try Google Maps, Waze, and other GPS tracking systems as a great place to start.

Being stuck in traffic leads to wasted gas and unnecessary carbon emissions. Next time you head out somewhere, put the location into a GPS program. You’ll get there on-time, while also limiting your carbon emission.

5.Conduct a home energy audit and insulate your home.

If you’ve never conducted a home energy audit, you might not be fully aware of a few easy improvements to conserve energy. Faulty insulation is one of the biggest culprits to inefficiency in home energy use.

Cracks along the windows, faulty insulation in the attic, and bad duct, are just a couple ways you may be able to improve your home and save on future energy bills. For a more in-depth look on home energy audits, check out our article, “How to conduct a home energy audit to save money.”

6.Upgrade old appliances to ENERGY STAR models.

New appliances can be costly, but the investment is well worth the savings. Energy star models will draw much less energy over time, saving you big time on every one of your electric bills going forward.

Old appliances usually require a lot more energy in order to function properly, and even then, they still don’t function as well as ENERGY STAR models.

7.Replace your old bulbs for new LEDs.

As you replace your appliances, keep your light bulbs in mind too. Incandescent bulbs and CFLs are inefficient—far inferior compared to new lower cost LED bulbs.

Incandescent bulbs and CFLs emit heat on top of the light they produce. This effect makes it that much harder to keep your home at the temperature you desire. Having the lights on with incandescent bulbs, will only warm your home—forcing you to rely even more on your AC unit. This domino effect creates more heat, while also burning more fossil fuels.

8.Limit your thermostat use.

Controlling your urges to lower the thermostat so you feel even more cozy, will go a long way in reducing your carbon footprint. We’ve all taken the thermostat for granted. Most of the time we just want the AC to be at a temperature that’s comfortable for us at that very moment. Rarely do we think, what the repercussions are for the environment.

Well extra AC usage to keep your home cool even when you’re not there, means more fossil fuels are being burned. So control yourself around the thermostat, and watch your carbon footprint shrink.

9.Eat less red meat.

Limit your weekly consumption of meat. Just choosing a single day a week to cut out red meat can make the difference. Join the meatless Monday movement as a great start.

According to the World Resources Institute, reducing meat consumption by half, can reduce your carbon footprint by at least 40 percent. Rather than eating a steak dinner three nights out of the week, save your delicious rib-eye for Saturday nights.

10. Make sure your energy is coming from a renewable source.

Buying a solar panel for your home is one way to make your home and life more sustainable—but not the only way.

If buying a solar panel is not an option, then join a Community Solar or wind REC program, which can help ensure that your electricity is sourced or supporting a renewable resource.

There’s no reason why you can’t do your part in reducing carbon emissions. The 10 tips we mentioned above are easy to follow methods that will help you achieve a smaller carbon footprint.