Although most people have probably heard of Global Warming, few understand the serious consequences we face if we do not start to make changes in the way we live. Global warming happens when gases that are
emitted, mostly by cars and power plants, trap heat within our atmosphere. This trapped heat causes rises in air and water temperatures, which in turn causes climate changes that can be drastic. Switching to cleaner energy sources is an example of a large scale solution, but as we know this is still in the works and is almost impossible for everyone to do yet, but there are many other changes you can do individually to help make a difference, and help ensure that your children and grandchildren can enjoy a clean world to live and grow in.
Home energy use accounts for approximately 1/5 of global warming pollution, so here are some tips to help save energy and money in your own home. Start by looking at the appliances you use daily throughout your home. Are they really suited for what you need? When shopping for large appliances especially, you should only buy big enough to accommodate your needs. For example, do not buy an oversized refrigerator when there are only a few people in you home that will be using it. This is the same for smaller appliances as well. If the appliance is too large or too small it will expend extra energy trying to accommodate its size. This will also hurt you when you look at your energy bills later. If you shop for Energy Star Products also, this will conserve energy and money as they offer the best energy savings. You may not realize this, but something as simple as unplugging appliances, or turning off power strips for items such as toasters, cell phone chargers, and even you cable box or game boys can save energy, as your meter is still counting kilowatt hours on these, even when they are not in use.
Check you light bulbs next, as lighting accounts for 12% of home energy use. We have all grown up hearing our parents tell us again and again that we need to turn off the lights when we are not in a room. Well they were right. Opening your shades and letting in natural light from outside will cut your electric bill and keep your home cooler in the summer, as light bulbs emit quite a bit of heat. You know this if you have ever touched a light bulb after it has been on for a while. You can also install motion lights to ensure they are only on when some one is in the room. Another change that may seem minor to some can drastically cut energy use and save you money on you energy bill, is to change your bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Changing just one 75 watt bulb to a CFL can cut roughly 1300 pounds of global warming pollution. These bulbs are more expensive to buy initially, but their life span is approximately 15 times as long as a regular bulb so you save money in the long run with these.
Next you should check your home to be sure it is adequately insulated, especially in basements and attics where there is usually little to no insulation and a lot of heat lost. Caulk and insulate any gaps around windows and doors to prevent drafts. If you are losing heat to these areas, you are wasting energy and money also.
So we have covered a few tips to save energy in your home and now let’s talk about our driving and how a few simple changes can help save our environment. Fist, if you must drive on a regular basis, keep you vehicle running at its peak performance by scheduling regular tune-ups. Making sure your spark plugs, oxygen sensors, air filters, hoses, etc., are changed regularly, can save you up to 165 gallons of gas per year. Also drive less aggressively, as rapid acceleration and braking lowers gas mileage by as much as 33 % on the highway and 5% in town. Another way to cut pollution from vehicles is to combine your trips. Plan your errands so you can do more than one in the same area, at the same time. Here are some ideas to help you get away without driving as much or at all. Contact friends and co-workers and set up a carpool or use public transportation whenever possible. This means fewer cars, less emissions, and lower gas expenses.
If you feel like you can not change any more, and that you have done all you can, think again. One more way to help is to purchase what are called “Offsets”. Basically this means that you can pay someone else to reduce or remove global warming pollution in your name. For example, you can purchase 10 tons of offsets and the seller guarantees to eliminate or remove 10 tons of global warming pollution from the atmosphere. If you are interested in purchasing offsets, you should research them on your own and chose the one you feel suits what you are looking for the best. The following offsets have been evaluated by Environmental Defense and offer different options for reduction and removal of global warming pollution.
e-BlueHorizons’s projects capture heat-trapping gases from landfills in New England. One project in Massachusetts uses the recovered gases to generate electricity. Another, in New Hampshire, uses the captured gases to treat wastewater from the landfill. A portion of the proceeds is also used to plant trees along the lower Mississippi River Valley
Natsource LLC – DuPont – Blue Source
Natsource LLC represents select DuPont and Blue Source GHG emission reduction projects. The projects are located in Kentucky, Maine, Texas and Wyoming. They reduce emissions by preventing pollution, switching to cleaner fuels, and capturing and storing carbon.
Carbonfund.org works with dairy farms in California. Manure from 14 farms is collected daily and processed in a closed environment that captures greenhouse gases. In addition, the recovered gases are used to power a nearby groundwater clean-up system.
DrivingGreens projects work with livestock farmers in Mexico. Greenhouse gases from animal waste are captured and used to generate energy. The projects can also improve local air quality and help reduce the risk of groundwater contamination.
AtmosClear Climate Club
AtmosClear works with a landfill in Illinois. Greenhouse gases from the landfill are collected so they do not escape to the atmosphere and used to generate electricity. In addition, the project reduces odor and the potential for groundwater contamination.
Although it may seem like these tips could not possibly help, simple steps like changing a light bulb, and slowing down when you drive, can help reverse the effects of global warming. It is not too late to make a change and a better future for our family and friends to live in.