10 ways to reduce your carbon footprint and 9 of them will save you money

October 15th, 2007

10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint (and 9 of them will save you money!)

Today is Blog Action Day, when over 14,000 blogs across the blogosphere all write on a common topic: the environment. I usually write about money: finances, debt, saving money, frugality… and today is no different. But today I’ve given things a specifically environmental twist. And the other unusual thing today is in honor of Blog Action Day, this will be the only post here today. It may be the first day I’ve only posted one post!

I’m going to focus on the Reduce part of the environmental “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra and give you 10 ways to reduce your carbon footprint. What is a carbon footprint, you ask? According to the Carbon Footprint website:

A Carbon Footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide.

Limiting your own carbon footprint can help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced and slow down the negative effect excess carbon dioxide has on our climate. These 10 ways to reduce your carbon footprint are brought to you from StopGlobalWarming.Org and if you click on the link, you can explore how much your carbon footprint is reduced by taking different combinations of steps, as well as how much money you can save. I chose the 10 “Everyday Cheap and Easy” steps to highlight, but there are even more steps you can take on the website relating to transportation, housing, money, and smart choices. As I said, 9 of the 10 listed here will save you money (with limited to no initial outlay of funds), and the one that doesn’t – it won’t cost *that* much more. Depending on where you shop.

Without further ado: 10 Everyday Cheap and Easy Ways to Reduce your Carbon Footprint:

  1. Replace 3 frequently used light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Save 300 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $60 per year.
  2. Keep the tires on your car adequately inflated. Check them monthly. Save 250 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $840 per year. If everyone in the United States did it, gasoline use nationwide would come down by 2 percent. If every household in the United States did it, we would save a trillion pounds of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere!
  3. Check your car’s air filter monthly. Save 800 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $130 per year.
  4. Run your dishwasher only with a full load. Save 200 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $40 per year. Use the energy-saving setting to dry dishes and don’t use heat when drying.
  5. Make sure your printer paper is 100% post consumer recycled paper. Save 5 lbs. of carbon dioxide per ream of paper. The paper industry is the third greatest contributor to global warming emissions.
  6. Move your heater thermostat down two degrees in winter and up two degrees in the summer. Save 2000 lbs of carbon dioxide and $98 per year.
  7. Keep your water heater thermostat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Save 500 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $30 per year.
  8. Air conditioner check. Save 175 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $150 per year. Clean or replace dirty air conditioner filters as recommended.
  9. Take shorter showers. Save 350 lbs. of Carbon Dioxide and $99 per year. Showers account for 2/3 of all water heating costs! Using less water in your shower means using less energy to heat the water which means less pollution.
  10. Install a low-flow showerhead to use less hot water. Save 300 lbs. of carbon dioxide and $150.

So far, I do 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9, and I plan to add 3, 5, and 10 in the near future. We made a drastic 5-10 degree shift in our heating and cooling (from 70 in the summer to 79, and from 72 in the winter to 67, I am aiming for 65) and we have over 30 CFL bulbs in our house. Otherwise we are just making small changes and adding them up for a big savings (and a lower carbon footprint for our whole family). You can too!!

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15 Responses to “10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint (and 9 of them will save you money!)”

  1. Very nice. I know a low-flow shower head would be good, but they don’t seem to get my very thick hair clean. *sigh* Plus I really enjoy showers. But I try to take them quickly.

  2. When it comes to numbers 9 and 10, look into getting a Navy shower style showerhead. These have a switch on the showerhead to stop the flow of water. After all, who needs the water running when using the soap or shampoo?

  3. Great! I’ve switched 1 light bulb in my apartment to CFL, and I plan to switch a few more when the bulbs burn out.

  4. My spouse just informed me our shower head is low flow already. Who knew?

    And then he said we’re not lowering the therostat to 65.

    And then he said if our flow isn’t low already he refuses to go lower.

    he may chime in, he’s been commenting randomly lately.

    Yay for switching to cfls SD :)

  5. Hi,
    Great post and contribution to Blog Action Day. I just wanted to throw in some more ‘green’ ideas.
    1) Bring your own bag or bags to the supermarket. I’ve been doing it for over a year and it’s really better than plastic or paper. Of course sometimes I do get the plastic bags because I need some around the house.
    2) Recycle your ink toner cartridge at Office Depot. You get either a discount coupon or a pack of recycled paper. I haven’t had to buy paper in ages!

  6. Another idea: Use a push-reel mower instead of a gas-powered mower. I’ve been doing this for three years now. It takes a little longer, but it’s good exercise… and you never have to worry about running out of gas. :-)

  7. Thanks for the additional tips!

    I am allergic to grass so my spouse mows. I don’t think he’ll go for it. lol

  8. I’m all for ‘saving’ the environment BUT…

    I’ve come to the belief that CFL’s are worse for the environment than traditional incandescent bulbs. The carbon footprint measures the ENTIRE life cycle of a product. The ‘savings’ proported in cfl’s over incandescent bulbs only consider the amount of electricity consumed while the bulb is in operation. Those figures do not consider the collection of raw materials and manufacture of cfl’s AND it’s ultimate disposal (the entire life cycle) … which, cfl’s have some very nasty elements we SHOULD NOT LET ENTER OUR LANDFILLS. So … the first question is, how do we dispose of cfl’s? and the main question is, what is the carbon footprint of a cfl and what is the carbon footprint of an incandescent bulb? I’ll wager a lot that the cfl is in actuality, worse for the environment (has a higher carbon footprint). Like I said, sure, a cfl uses less energy when the 2 are side by side, but what about the entire carbon footprint (lifecycle) of the two products … so far I haven’t seen any data to show these true measures. But one can deduce the cfl is more than incandescent. Think of it … incandescent is comprised of a little glass, a little steel, a filament etc … while a cfl has all sorts of exotic and poisonous materials, for the ballast, mercury, plastics etc. It’s a very harmful product.

    I can’t fault any of the other suggestions OTHER than to suggest the ‘savings’ amount is speculative as we don’t have a baseline to justify saying “you can save $500″ if you do this or that (lower thermostat on the hot water tank etc.)

    Anyway, my thoughts, not yours. Just lets see if the bandwagon is constructed well before we jump on.


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