BE GREEN – What You Can Do
You release greenhouse gases as a result of everyday activities such as driving, using electricity in your home or office and heating or cooling your building. In fact, residential and commercial energy use accounts for more than 35 percent of all carbon emissions in the USA. Greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced or abated through a range of measures as simple as changing light bulbs, buying EnergyStar rated appliances or purchasing shade-grown coffee. Below are several easy steps you can take to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, reduce air pollution and increase our nation’s energy independence.
Making a few small changes in your home and yard can lead to big reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and save money. Explore our list of steps you can take around the house and yard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
- Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products when buying new appliances for your home. Get the features and performance you want and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products in appliances, home electronics and air conditioners.
- Heat and cool smartly
Simple steps like cleaning air filters regularly and having your heating and cooling equipment tuned annually can save energy and, at the same time, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When it’s time to replace your old equipment, choose a, EnergyStar model and make sure it is properly sized.
- Insulate your home
Adding more insulation to your home and sealing air leaks is a great fixer up project that anyone can do themselves. The biggest leaks are usually found in the attic and basement. If you are planning to replace windows, choose EnergyStar- rated windows for better performance. Seal and insulate any ducts in attics and crawlspaces to improve the efficiency of your home. A home energy audit can help you find air leaks, areas with poor insulation and evaluate the overall energy efficiency of your home. On Long Island,.LIPA provides energy audits via approved contractors: http://www.lipower.org/efficiency/homeperformance.html
- Use sustainable solar or wind power
Sustainable environmentally friendly electricity that is generated from renewable energy sources such as wind and the sun is the ultimate green power. You can modify your house to generate your own green power, providing environmental and economic benefits over conventional electricity, including lower greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, you help increase clean energy supply. If you are interested, there are a number of ways to reduce installation costs, including a credit from LIPA or your local utility, as well as tax rebates and credits. In fact, Long Islanders (New York) in 2009 can save upwards of 75% of the installation costs and virtually eliminate your annual electricity bills based on LIPA rebates and both state and federal tax credits, depending on your tax bracket. Check with your accountant to confirm your tax savings.http://www.lipower.org/efficiency/solar-home.html
- Certified Wood products
When purchasing wood products such as furniture or raw lumber, try to find sources that are made from wood that has been harvested using sustainable management practices such those certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The use of certified wood products helps preserve forests in perpetuity, thus reducing the need for clear cutting of forests and general deforestation.
- Shade-Grown Coffee & Cocoa
Buy only shade-grown coffee and cocoa to help preserve tropical forests. Traditionally grown coffee and cocoa results in clear cutting of critical forests and contributes to global warming. However, shade-grown coffee farms resembles a forest because they consists of several layers of trees, such as fruit and hardwood trees, and other assorted plants. As a result, they also provide excellent habitat for numerous species of birds and other animals
- Change light bulbs
Change a light bulb and you help change the world. Replace conventional bulbs in your five most frequently used light fixtures with bulbs that have the ENERGY STAR and you will help the environment while saving money on energy bills. If every household in the U.S. took this one action it would prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to nearly 10 million cars.http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/index.html
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Support recycling markets by buying products made of recycled materials. This practice helps conserve energy from resource extraction, manufacturing and disposal, reduces emissions and creates green jobs.
- In your yard
Use a push mower or a rechargeable electric mower. They not only work great, but eliminate produced by gasoline-powered mowers. Remember to unplug during the winter or other long periods of non use. Composting food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage that you send to landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. See EPA’s Green Spaces link for tips on how to improve your lawn or garden to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.GreenScapes program
- Use water efficiently
There are also simple actions you can take to save water and the energy it takes to purify and pump clean water: Be smart when irrigating your lawn; only water when needed and do it during the coolest part of the day; early morning is best. Repair all toilet and faucet leaks right away; they can waste 200 gallons of water per day.
WHEN YOU DRIVE
The burning of fuels releases carbon dioxide and contributes to climate change, but these emissions can be reduced by improving your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. You can take several actions to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the nation’s dependence on oil and save money including:
- Consider a Hybrid
Hybrid vehicles recapture energy during braking (among other things) yet still run on gasoline. Many people do not realize that hybrids recharge automatically while driving; they are not charged externally. Many hybrids come with extended warranties for the batteries, upwards of 100,000 miles, making that less of a concern.
- Buy smart
Before buying any new or used vehicle, check out EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide and the EPA/DOE Fuel Economy Guide. These resources provide information about the greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy performance of different vehicles and models including side-by-side fuel economy comparisons and a customized fuel cost calculator. There are a wide range of cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles available on the market today that produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions. EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide & EPA/DOE Fuel Economy Guide
- Drive smart
Many factors affect your car’s fuel economy. To improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, go easy on the brakes and gas pedal, avoid hard accelerations, reduce time spent idling and unload unnecessary items in your trunk to reduce weight. If you have a removable roof rack and you are not using it, take it off to improve your fuel economy by as much as five percent. Use overdrive and cruise control on your car if you have those features.
- Tune your ride
A well-maintained car is more fuel-efficient, produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, is more reliable and is safer! Keep your car well tuned, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and use the recommended grade of motor oil. Also check and replace your vehicle’s air filter regularly.
- Check your tires
Check your tire pressure regularly. Underinflation increases tire wear, reduces your fuel economy by up to three percent and leads to higher greenhouse gas emissions and release of air pollutants. If you don’t know the correct tire pressure for your vehicle, you can find it listed on the door to the glove compartment or on the driver’s-side door pillar.
- Give your car a break
Carpool, use public transportation, walk or bike whenever possible to avoid using your car. Leaving your car at home just two days a week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year. Whenever possible, combine activities and errands into one trip. For daily commuting, consider options like telecommuting from home via phone or over the Internet.
Hugh Parkhurst, an Energy and Environment committee member, discusses his experience of going almost two months without a car early in the summer of 2010 and offers some tips and thoughts – “Getting Around on Long Island for Two Months Without a Car“.
Business and home offices use a significant amount of electricity for heating and cooling, lighting and operating equipment. Here are easy ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help make the air cleaner:
- Manage office equipment use
Office equipment uses energy even when idle or on stand-by. To save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at work, always activate the energy saving features on your computer and monitor, unplug laptop power cords when not in use and turn off equipment and lights at the end of the day.
- Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products for the Office
When buying new products for your office at work or at home, get the features and performance you want and help reduce greenhouse gases and emissions of air pollutants. Look for ENERGY STAR qualified office equipment, such as computers, copiers, and printers, including lighting, heating and cooling equipment and commercial appliances.
- Ask your office building manager if your office building has earned the ENERGY STAR.
ENERGY STAR-labeled buildings provide safe, healthy, and productive environments that use about 35 percent less energy than average buildings. Their efficient use of energy also reduces the total operational cost of the building.
- Use less energy for your commute
Switch to public transportation, carpooling, biking, telecommuting and other innovative ways to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on your way to and from work. Encourage your employer to offer commuter benefits that address limited or expensive parking, reduce traffic congestion, improve employee recruiting and retention and minimize the environmental impacts associated with drive-alone commuting.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Recycle office paper, newspapers, beverage containers, electronic equipment and batteries. This helps your office conserve energy and reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from both manufacturing, and disposal. Use two-sided printing and copying; buy supplies made with recycled content; and recycle used printer cartridges.