Take Action

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that if U.S. households implemented a number of simple actions—from carpooling to changing the temperature on the washing machine— annual carbon emissions could be cut by 123 metric tons. That's more than emissions from petroleum refineries, iron and steel works, and aluminum smelters combined. (Source)

To see the impact of your household activity on the environment, go to Green Progress or The Nature Conservancy and calculate your carbon footprint.

Daily Habits

  • Wash laundry in cold water to save energy from heating the water.
  • Line dry your laundry instead of running your clothes dryer. It will save you energy and reduce power plant emissions.
  • Set your thermostat lower in the evenings when you sleep and during the day when you are not home. A programmable thermostat helps facilitate temperature changes automatically once it is programmed. Many are now reasonably priced and can easily replace non-programmable thermostats.

Home Improvements

  • Install low-flow showerheads to save on your water bill and your water-heating bills. This will reduce electricity used to heat the water, thereby reducing emissions from electricity-generating plants.
  • Turn down the temperature on your water heater.
  • Insulate your water heater with a blanket specific to the size of your water heater tank. If you have to replace your water heater, buy one with an ENERGY STAR rating or one that heats water on demand.
  • Have your HVAC [Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning] equipment serviced every year to make sure it is running efficiently, thus using less power.
  • If replacing appliances, buy ENERGY STAR appliances. 
  • Installing weather-stripping around doors and windows.
  • Add insulation in your attic.
  • If you need to replace your windows, replace them with energy-efficient ones.

Transportation

  • Combine car trips: Go to all of your needed destinations in one trip rather than making separate trips.
  • Carpool when possible and schoolpool not only to school but to school events, such as athletic games, band practice, etc.
  • Use mass transit whenever possible;
  • Try telecommuting instead of driving to work.
  • Inflate your tires to the proper level. It should save you about 15 percent in miles per gallon, which saves you gasoline.
  • Buy a fuel-efficient vehicle such as a hybrid when considering a new vehicle. A Gas Mileage Impact Calculator can be helpful in comparing a current vehicle to new hybrid electric model.