Few people realize that the energy used in a home causes more greenhouse emissions than a car.
Most of the electricity used in a home is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas, which release carbon dioxide – the world’s largest contributor to global climate change – into the atmosphere. As a result, it is the energy choices people make at home that may have the greatest effect on the environment.
The typical household spends $1,400 a year on energy bills, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. By following simple energy saving tips and purchasing products that are Energy Star-qualified, a typical household can save up to 30 percent or more than $400 per year on utility expenses and accompanying pollution.
Following are seven simple tips that will help keep the environment on the up, and energy bills on the down:
* Dirty air filters in a home’s heating and cooling system can lead to higher costs and early equipment failure. Clean or change these filters monthly.
* Energy Star-qualified windows and doors can help reduce home energy bills up to 15 percent. Many manufacturers, such as Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors, offer a variety of attractive Energy Star-qualified products for significant energy cost savings.
* Air leaks can overwork a home’s heating and cooling system. Seal air leaks in walls, ceilings, and around windows and doors, and add insulation to the attic or basement to improve the comfort and durability of your home.
* Replace the most frequently used light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. Look for the Energy Star logo. These use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than normal bulbs. Changing just five can save more than $60 a year in energy costs.
* Make sure to turn off all lights and electronics when you leave a room, and don’t keep the refrigerator door open any longer than needed.
* When buying heating and cooling devices, shop during the off-season to take advantage of many manufacturers’ seasonal sales promotions and rebates.
* Planting a tree for shade can reduce cooling costs by up to 25 percent. For best results, plant leafy shade trees to the south and west and evergreens to the north. Trees also help to reduce the greenhouse effect, not to mention beautify a front or back yard.
The less energy people use, the less energy power plants need to generate, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves the quality of our air. Energy efficiency helps the economy, too, by saving homeowners up to 30 percent in energy costs each year.