Here are some easy ways to lead a more climate-friendly life.
Audit Thyself Check out The Home Energy Saver. This nifty tool helps consumers find the best ways to save energy in their homes. The more info you provide (like household size or age of major appliances), the more the site customizes results—such as what it’s costing you to light your spare bedroom.
Wrap It Up Try wrapping an insulation blanket around your water heater: it can conserve 1,000 pounds of CO2annually. Also consider installing a whole-house tankless water heater, which instantly heats water when a shower or faucet is turned on. Not only can it save you up to 50 percent on utility costs; you’ll earn a $300 federal tax credit.
Go for Two Move your thermostat down two degrees in winter and up two degrees in summer. That saves about 2,000 pounds of CO2per year. Plus, clean or change furnace and air conditioner filters once a month. Clogged ones restrict air flow, forcing the furnace to work harder. If your budget allows, replace any single-pane windows with high-performance low-emissivity coated glass.
Fly Right Airplanes are major polluters, but you can offset CO2emissions generated by your flight. Travelocity’s Go Zero program (add it during checkout) makes a donation to The Conservation Fund, which plants trees that absorb carbon dioxide; $25, for example, negates air travel, a four-night hotel stay, and a rental car for two. Expedia has partnered with TerraPass, which funds a variety of greenhouse gas-reduction programs. Just $5.99 offsets a flight of up to 2,200 miles (roughly 1,000 pounds of CO2). To check the quality of these programs—they’re fairly new, so standards haven’t been set yet—go to www.cleanair-coolplanet.org.
Pick Green Hotels CO2-friendly hotel choices include Marriott, Fairmont, Kimpton, and Wyndham, all of which are designed for energy efficiency and eco-friendliness. Their methods range from heat-recovering power systems to energy-efficient lighting. For more green travel opportunities go to GreatGreenTravel.com.
Rent Clean Cars EV Rental Cars (877-387-3682) is the first U.S. rental-car company whose entire fleet consists of hybrids, which produce less pollution and get better mileage than gas-powered cars. Enterprise Rent-A-Car (866-502-1260) is adding hybrid cars to its fleet, starting in California.
Farm Out CO2 Shop at a local farmers’ market. Not only do you reduce the amount of energy used to get food from grower to supermarket, but the food tastes better. Or grow your own vegetables.
But Wait, There’s More…Hundreds of books and websites offer practical ways to deal with global warming. It’s Easy Being Green by Crissy Trask ($12.95, Gibbs Smith, 2006) is loaded with eco-friendly tips.The Center for Alternative Technology presents practical solutions to environmental problems in a fun way. Climatecrisis.net boasts a wealth of info on greenhouse gases and includes a calculator to measure how much CO2you produce each year. You can also measure your ecological footprint at www.earthday.net.