“Carbon footprint” – It’s the latest buzz word being thrown around by everyone from politicians to college kids but what exactly is it? Well, roughly defined it’s the amount of green house gas emitted by a person or population over a certain period of time. To make a long story short, the more of these gasses that we let into the atmosphere, the worse it is for the environment. Before moving onto the list, however, we would like to point out that no matter what your stance is on global warming/climate change these ideas at least stand the chance of saving you money. Most of them don’t take that much effort and at the end of the month you may notice less coming out of your bank account to pay for utilities.
Take a shower
Taking a shower uses about 1/5 of the energy as taking a bath, and as long as you don’t fall asleep it should use less water too. If not, you can always install a “low flow” shower head to limit the amount of water being used.
Unplug your phone charger
When you’re not using it that is. According to the US Department of Energy, appliances consume a significant amount of electricity even when they are switched off. Ever notice how your phone charger can get hot with no phone on it?
Use the top shelf of the oven
Of course, this depends on how technical you want to get with your food but generally speaking hot air rises. The heating mechanism is usually on the bottom of the oven but because it emits bursts of heat the top of the oven tends to be consistently hotter. While this will cook your food faster you may have to sacrifice some crispiness.
Wash with cold water
This is especially true if you are washing or rinsing clothes. About 90% of the energy used in the process goes towards heating the water. So unless you are trying to kill all the germs on your clothes with boiling H2O, this could save you some cash and win you some green points.
Buy a laptop instead of a desktop
Laptops can use up to 80% less energy than a desktop, and unless you are a die hard tech junkie that needs to have the fastest processor on the planet, a modern laptop will suit your needs just fine.
Avoid black trash bags
Because of the black pigmentation these trash bags cannot be recycled. A better option is to use white trash bags and the best option is of course…none.
Filter your own water
This one is huge. Most tap water (in western countries) is safe to drink and by filtering it you can do a lot of saving. First of all, the water is usually flown in from far away which requires fuel and then the packaging itself uses a lot of energy. Besides, buying bottled water only feels good until you check your bank account.
Once again, if you keep things local it will reduce the amount of fuel that is required to get the food from the farm to your fridge. The same concept goes for other goods and services as well.
Replace lightbulbs with CFL bulbs
CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs can last up to 15 times longer and use up to 8o% less energy than regular lightbulbs. Again, this could certainly have the added benefit of streamlining your electric bill.
Shift gears sooner
If you drive a manual, shift into a higher gear as soon as you can. On most cars this would mean before 2,500 rpm but on diesel it would be before 2,000 rpm. If you do this right you will find yourself saving some gas because your engine is maintaining a higher speed without working as hard.
Take a train
Sure, it takes longer than flying and as of yet there are no trans-oceanic railways but if you can stand a bit of patience and your destination is on the same continent as your point of departure you will save a bit of gas and money with this option.
Switch to clean, renewable energy
There are several ways to go about this. Although one way would be to research your energy providers and find one that uses green energy, there are also some DIY options available such as installing your own solar panels.
Create a wormery
Yea, we know, this one sounds weird. The truth is though, that worms love your trash, and they can help you turn it into fertilizer for # 11.
As you may have noticed by now, a lot of these ideas pertain to your vehicle. So, beyond keeping your tires inflated and not carrying unnecessarily heavy loads, one of the best things you can do is not use your car at all. If you really need it though, there are websites out there that will help you find a ride. Besides, who wouldn’t want their own lane?
Plant an organic garden
Not only does growing your own food make you a more conscientious global citizen, it brings you a sense of satisfaction and if done right, monetary savings.
photo – the daily green
Buy certified wood
Certified wood comes from responsibly managed forests. This means that the logging in those forests is being monitored to prevent deforestation and maintain biodiversity. One of the largest certification programs is the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
Close your curtains
In winter you can help your space heater out by opening your curtains during the day and closing them at night while in summer you should leave them open at night and close them during the day. By remembering to do this you can save up to 75% on your bill.
Use rechargeable batteries
Using rechargeable batteries can shave almost 1,000 pounds off of your carbon footprint by the time the batteries die for good.
Drive a hybrid
Although they run a little pricier, over the lifetime of the vehicle you will find yourself more than covering the difference in gasoline savings.
Microwave your food
There are several variable at play here, but generally speaking your microwave is more energy efficient than your stove. Of course, using a microwave is not nearly as classy and for large meals an electric stove would probably be a better option, but on average this modern marvel can save you a lot of energy.
Buy energy efficient appliances
On the topic of stove and microwaves, there are several ways you can tell whether an appliance is energy efficient or not. One of these ways is to look for the “energy star” logo. This was a program started by the US government in 1990 to help consumers identify energy efficient appliances.
Eat in-season produce
Out of season produce increases the costs of refrigeration significantly. Not surprisingly it also comes with a hefty fuel related price tag in order to get it from where it is in-season to where it is being consumed.
Read the newspaper online
This one is a no-brainer. By getting your daily fix of news online rather than in print you are saving a lot on paper printing costs.
Install ceiling fans
Using ceiling fans instead of air conditioning is sure fire way to rack up your savings. If you live in a climate where you rely heavily on your A/C this could save you up to a ton in CO2 emissions.
Plant a tree
The age old classic, we all did it in elementary school, but it is still the most efficient way to help the environment. Not only do they provide shade and oxygen but they consume CO2 at the same time. Doesn’t get much better than that.
David is the editor-in-chief of List25. He has a Masters degree in International Business from University of Florida. He loves to break dance, do flips, play guitar, and everything else that is fun. Follow him on Twitter @iamdpegg