Green Business Bureau Blog
Save Money by Knowing Your Carbon Footprint – and Adjust It
Carbon dioxide is harmful to the environment. Sure, some people do not believe in global warming, and everyone has a right to their opinion, but global warming or not, the fact is that carbon monoxide is dangerous and we humans are sending it into the atmosphere far faster than the life giving vegetation on our planet can remove it. We need every person, across the globe, to take steps to reduce their own carbon footprint. This means, every person needs to be more aware of how much carbon they are producing in the world and then take action, finding ways to minimize this production.
Recognize Your Carbon Footprint A carbon footprint refers to how much CO2 a person (building, company, machine, etc.) puts off into the atmosphere. A minivan driven about 20,000 miles a year (a U.S. average) puts off about 22,000 pounds of C02 each year. Given that a single mature tree can remove about 13 pounds of CO2 from the air each year, this means that it takes over 900 trees just to offset the C02 from a single vehicle. The more sobering fact is that our buildings emit much more C02 than our vehicles, which shows a bit of the scope of each person’s carbon footprint.
There are a variety of online calculators where you can input your personal habits and calculate your individual carbon footprint. You will find that Americans tend to average 20 metric tons of C02 per year, according to an MIT study, which is about 40,000 pounds of C02 emitted into the air – average. That means it takes nearly 3,100 trees to offset the C02 created by a single American. Do you have 3,100 trees in your backyard? Probably not. People in developing countries such as India emit literally a fraction of the C02 that Americans do. Thus, we need to work to minimize our carbon footprint and do our fair share to care for our planet.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Reducing your carbon footprint is good for the environment and for the entire world. The best way to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to stop sending so much carbon dioxide off into the atmosphere. Some people, however, prefer to live life as they wish and then purchase carbon offsets. This can be helpful and is a good practice to offset carbon that simply cannot be changed. For example, some celebrities will purchase carbon offsets to reduce the impact of their air travel. The most common type of carbon offsets include paying a company that plants trees in forests around the world. It is important, however, that you do research and find a reputable carbon offset company as some companies have been found to take money without ever planting a single sapling.
An even better way to offset your carbon is to not create it in the first place. This can be accomplished by reducing the energy that you use, which saves you money rather than costing you. You reduce your carbon footprint when you drive a more energy efficient vehicle, or better yet if you use public transportation.
You can also reduce your footprint by turning off the lights, using dimmer switches, unplugging your television and other electronics when not in use, lowering your thermostat and more. The great news is that all of these things not only reduce the amount of carbon that you send into the air, but they also result in an energy savings to you – less money spent. Following are some easy ways that you can lower your carbon footprint while also saving money:
- Adjust your thermostat. By keeping your building cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer you can save a lot. Just a couple of degrees can save a hundred dollars a year.
- Turn off lights when not in use. You can save up to $50 a year just by keeping the lights out when you are not home or not in that room.
- Use dimmer switches and timers. Dimmers and timers can help you get the light you need without paying for light that you do not need.
- Install thick curtains and blinds. Thermal curtains and cellular blinds can literally save you $100 a month in heating and cooling bills, keeping out cold drafts and hot sun rays.
- Do your wash on cold. One of the biggest energy consumers in most homes is the hot water tank; by doing laundry in all cold (which is usually fine given today’s quality laundry detergents) you can save on every load.