Carbon Week: Reducing Your Carbon Emissions

As we mentioned yesterday [], we’ll be dedicating this week to a few of the ins and outs of carbon emissions: what you need to know about your impact on climate change, how you can learn more about your footprint, and what you can do to cut it back without moving to a cave or sitting around in the dark. Today, we’ll take a peek at the things that TreeHugger has covered to help reduce your personal impact on global warming.

Reducing the energy use in your home is one of the most effective ways to cut back; the short answer for why this is so is that the majority of our energy utilities burn coal to generate electricity, which is a dirty, carbon-intensive process. Cutting back doesn’t mean you can’t watch television or use your computer, though; there are ways to insure you get the most out of your electricity use. Devices like the Kill-a-Watt [] home energy monitor show which appliances use the most energy, which can help contextualize your home’s usage. Another handy device is the PowerCost [] home energy use monitor (pictured, right), which provides a real-time readout with your home’s current energy usage, along with what it’s costing you. TreeHugger also has tips on how to reduce your computer’s energy use [], which can be helpful for us all (since you wouldn’t be reading this without the benefit of a computer).

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: changing incandescent lightbulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs [] (CFLs) is a great way to reduce your energy usage. Each bulb uses about 2/3 less energy than a conventional incandescent and can last five to ten times as long; though slightly more expensive to buy, each bulb can save you about $30 over its life. It may seem trivial, but changing a bulb really can make a difference; change two bulbs, or four, or ten, and it really starts to add up.

Beyond reducing your home’s energy use, signing up for green power (which was also mentioned on this blog []) is a great way to keep your carbon footprint down. TreeHugger has a handy primer here []; essentially, you pay a little premium to help your utility buy more power from alternative, renewable sources like wind and solar. Though they can’t insure that the “green electrons” that you’ve helped provide go directly to your home, they’ve done the math so that your investment matches up with your home’s energy use. Plus, more renewable energy is better than less, we always say. Beyond that, TreeHugger’s How to Green Your Electricity [] guide offers a myriad of tips for reducing, saving and otherwise greening your electricity use (and your carbon footprint). Tomorrow: the pros and cons of carbon offsets.