Many people have become aware of the impact that small choices can have on the planet. While industrial and commercial sources make up the bulk of the world’s carbon footprint, home utility consumers can make a measurable difference in the health of the planet.
Reducing your carbon footprint at home is simpler than you may think. Ontario Green Savings explains how the average homeowner can increase their energy efficiency and prevent the excess release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the environment.
The Effect of Home Utility Use on Greenhouse Gas Emissions
In Canada, almost one-quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions are the result of heating, cooling, and lighting buildings. In order to meet climate targets, these numbers need to drop. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions doesn’t have to be complicated. There are simple steps that any homeowner or renter can accomplish to keep their home running smoothly and to reduce the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
While energy use in business and industry has gone down due to the coronavirus pandemic, homes are using more energy. Many families are sheltering in place together, working and going to school in their own homes. When people are home for more of the daylight hours, running appliances like air conditioners, dishwashers, and washing machines, their utility bills will rise. This increased home use of utilities may offset the gains that stem from reduced transportation and industrial use, but the effect should be minimal.
One of the best ways to start making a difference in the world’s carbon footprint is weatherizing your home. When your home is properly insulated, with windows and doors that keep the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, you can be sure that you are not wasting fossil fuel energy on heating or cooling your home. This will reduce your overall carbon footprint.
Improving a home’s insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. According to insulation experts, the attic and basement are the best places to start. These areas can represent from 15 to 30 percent of your home’s total heating and cooling losses.
Replacing Old Appliances
People may believe that using an appliance more than 10 years after it was purchased saves money and energy. Many homeowners prefer to repair old appliances rather than buying new ones. Energy experts know that this is misleading and that an old appliance can have damaging effects on the environment.
A newer appliance will produce better, more energy-efficient results. Having a new appliance means that you will save not only energy but in many cases water as well. New appliances run more efficiently because their parts work better together. A new refrigerator has a better-quality seal around the door, meaning that it does not run excessively to keep itself at the proper temperature. A new clothes dryer has better-functioning sensors so that it does not run well past the time when the clothes inside are dry.
The experts at Ontario Green Savings can help homeowners and renters choose new appliances that fit into a green footprint, saving energy while improving performance.
Use Renewable Energy
One of the most dramatic ways to reduce home greenhouse gas emissions is to turn to renewable energy. Home solar energy set-ups are surprisingly affordable and can even pay for themselves through energy savings over time. There are also tax incentives available in some cities and provinces that can help to pay for solar energy installation.
Another type of renewable energy that homeowners should consider is geothermal energy. Geothermal energy works by bringing air up from the underground which is always at a constant temperature.
Heat pumps are another eco-friendlier means of heating a home that does not rely on fossil fuels. A heat pump works by extracting heat from the air outside the home and then increasing its temperature by passing it over refrigeration coolant.
Other Ways to Reduce Fossil Fuel Use
Experts recommend doing laundry in cold water only. If you wash two loads of laundry weekly in cold water instead of warm water, you can save up to 225 kilograms of carbon dioxide per year.
Lowering the temperature of your hot water heater is another good way to reduce energy use. Lowering the temperature of your hot water heater from 60 degrees Celsius to 50 degrees Celsius will not only prevent injuries from scalding water, but it will also help you save up to 15 percent annually on energy costs and lower your carbon footprint.
Reducing Electricity Usage
Saving electricity does take some discipline and education for all members of the family, but when proper energy-saving methods are followed, your home’s carbon footprint can be lowered. Everyone should be instructed to turn off a room’s lighting when leaving. Everyone should know that they should unplug high-energy equipment like computers when they are not in use.
Doing Your Part
Reducing your home’s carbon footprint doesn’t have to be complicated. When following these simple suggestions from Ontario Green Savings, it is possible to save on utility bills and recognize that you are helping to lower Canada’s carbon footprint.