April 22 marks the 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970. While environmental awareness and sustainability have come a long way since then, the fight to save our planet is by no means over. The good news is that each of us is capable of decreasing the production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by thousands of pounds each year. But what you may not realize is that going green can actually save you green. Here are six great ways to reduce your carbon footprint – and your energy and gas bills while youre at it!
- Upgrade your old cooling systems. If you invest in central air conditioning with a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) of 14 or higher, you could reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1,500 pounds a year. If you use a window air conditioner in your home, consider replacing it with a new unit that meets Energy Star qualifications. Doing so could reduce your homes carbon dioxide emissions by more than 100 pounds a year – and cut your energy bills by as much as $300 a year.
- Invest in a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat will cost you anywhere from $30 to $100, but youll save far more than that in a year on your energy bills. Because a programmable thermostat allows you to adjust your homes temperature on a predetermined schedule, you wont waste energy when no ones home (or when youre sleeping). And thats as good for your wallet as it is for the environment.
- Rethink your laundry. Horizontal-axis (front-loader) washing machines use far less water and 60 percent less energy than top-loaders. Whether you own a front-loader or not, you can save energy and money by selecting cold water instead of warm or hot. Wait to use your dryer until you have a full load of clothes to dry, and do two or more loads in a row to make the best use of the heat thats already in the dryer. Better yet, skip the dryer altogether and air-dry your clothes. Not only is air-drying 100% eco-friendly, its 100% free. It also extends the life of your clothing. Now thats some serious savings.
- Slow down. Driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph can improve your gas mileage by about 15 percent – and significantly reduce your cars emissions. For even better gas mileage, avoid quick starts and sudden braking whenever you can.
- Map out your errands. Instead of driving to and from your house several times in the same day to run your errands, plan your trip ahead of time and do multiple errands on the same morning or afternoon. By consolidating drives to locations that are close to each other, you can park your car in one spot and walk when you get there. Less driving means less emissions – and less money for gas and parking.
- Take a break from driving. Just because you own a car doesnt mean you have to use it all the time. Consider taking public transportation or carpooling whenever feasible. Walking and biking are also great (and free!) alternatives to driving, and provide the added bonus of exercise. If you have more than one vehicle, drive the one with the best gas mileage whenever you can. The less you drive, the less youll spend – and the better off our planet will be.