Make your home energy and water efficient.
The energy we consume to maintain our residences comprises a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. If you own or plan to own a home the EPA maintains a web site on how to buy an EnergyStar-labeled building or upgrade your building's energy efficiency to EnergyStar level, and where to purchase high-efficiency appliances and office equipment that are EnergyStar labeled (i.e., among the top 25% most efficient). Taking advantage of EnergyStar-compliant products provides a very good return on your purchase, typically providing a 30 percent return or better on investment through lower utility bills.
And even if you rent instead of own, there are actions you can take to reduce your energy consumption impact. The Department of Energy has developed a website for tenants that describes a number of low cost energy efficient options for hot water use, kitchens, refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and window air conditioners, including a 106-page book you can download, called Your Energy Savings - A Resident's Handbook. In addition, you can urge your building owner to take steps to upgrade your building to EnergyStar status and save your landlord money in the long run.
ARTICLE: Climate Change Compromises Our Security.
Some actions require no cost outlay, but yield immediate savings. For example, heating and cooling represents the biggest chunk of a home's energy consumption. Just by turning the thermostat down three degrees in the winter and up three degrees in the summer, you can prevent the emission of nearly 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
ACT: Calculate your carbon emissions now.
Also, be sure to replace incandescent bulbs in your residence with high-performance, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Even though a CFL initially costs significantly more than an incandescent lamp, a CFL lasts 13 times longer, consumes 75 percent less electricity, and over the 10,000 hours of operation will net roughly $50 in savings. It also prevents the release of half a ton of greenhouse gas emissions. Lighting represents about 5-10% percent of residential electricity costs, and CFLs can cut that in half or more.
Similarly, capture low-cost, good-yielding savings by replacing inefficient water devices with high-efficiency models. Retrofitting a conventional inefficient showerhead with a hi-efficiency model at a cost of $10 to $20, and two faucets retrofit at a cost of $2 to $5 for each hi-efficiency sink aerator, will reduce water usage by 50-70 percent, while maintaining the same user experience. The retrofit cuts both water and heating bills, providing a 3 to 12 month payback on the investment.
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