We all dream of being homeowners - whether we are purchasing a home for the first time or designing our dream retirement house. There is a tremendous sense of achievement in realizing that dream and stepping into your new house for the first time. According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, nearly 70 percent of all Americans own their homes. That's nearly 73 million households.
Did you also know that according to the EPA, the average US household is responsible for emitting nearly 60 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air each year? Carbon dioxide is a green house gas that contributes to global warming. To put this into perspective, it's the same amount of CO2 put in the air by driving nearly 133,333 miles in a year, or the equivalent of nearly 11,000 cars driving an average of 12,000 miles in a year. Multiplied out by 73 million households, that's a lot of pollution.
The good news is there are three very simple, yet powerful choices we can make as homeowners to reduce the amount of CO2 our household puts into the air each year. According to the EPA, nearly 32 percent of the CO2 emissions a household emits into the air each year is controllable by following these three simple procedures:
- Making smart energy decisions
- Making smart transportation decisions
- Reducing, Reusing, Recycling and Re-buying
Smart Energy Decisions
Electricity generation is one of the dirtiest industries nationwide and is the leading cause of industrial air pollution. Electricity generation causes thousands of tons of CO2 to be emitted into the air each year. By making smart energy decisions, homeowners can reduce their households' impact on the environment and save money at the same time. As a matter of fact, making smart energy decisions can reduce your household's impact on the environment by nearly 20,000 pounds of CO2 - almost double the amount a car produces in a year of driving.
Making sure your home is properly insulated is one of the first steps in reducing the amount of electricity needed to cool or heat your home. By reducing the amount of electricity needed in your home, you are reducing the amount of electricity that is generated, and in turn reducing the amount of CO2 into the air. Additionally, when your heating system or cooling systems runs less, your electricity bill is less as well.
Another way to help reduce CO2 emissions is by purchasing renewable energy from your local utility or renewable energy marketer. Renewable energy comes from sources such as wind, water, and the sun. Most renewable energy sources produce little to no CO2 emissions when they are generated, making them clean energy sources that cause no harm to the environment. In Texas, for example, purchasing a 100 percent wind product can reduce your households CO2 emissions by nearly 17,000 pounds - similar to taking a car and a half off the road for a year. To learn more about renewable energy availability in your area, visit: http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/powpro/screen1.html
Other smart energy choices include purchasing compact fluorescent light bulbs and energy efficient appliances as well as conserving electricity by turning off lights and adjusting thermostats.
Smart Transportation Decisions
Driving our cars is another big factor in our households' contribution to CO2 emissions. As a matter of fact, by making smart transportation decisions, homeowners can reduce their CO2 impact by nearly 14,000 pounds. Both Honda and Toyota offer hybrid vehicles that produce practically no emissions while at the same time getting nearly 50 miles per gallon in the city. With rising fuel costs, these new vehicles serve double duty by helping the environment and saving homeowners' money by reducing visits to the gasoline pump. A 5-mile per gallon difference equates to about 2,800 pounds of CO2 a year.
To learn more about green vehicles, visit: www.epa.gov/greenvehicles
Reduce, Reuse, Rebuy and Recycle
By recycling, reducing our waste and reusing items, a household can trim nearly 4,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the air each year. According to Keep Texas Beautiful, Texans throw away enough trash to fill the Astrodome in less than ten days. Each ton of recycled paper saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space; 7,000 gallons of water; 17 trees; and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity.
Check to see if there are recycling programs in your area, or if your city has a recycling center where you can bring aluminum cans, plastics, glass and paper. Before throwing that item away, check to see if you can use it again - maybe even in a creative way.
Being a homeowner is a great dream. And hopefully these three tips will make your homeownership more enjoyable, better for the environment, AND less costly.