What can I do to reduce my home's carbon footprint?

Asked by Kathryn Stewart, New York, NY

What can I do to reduce my home's carbon footprint?


Eric Corey Freed

Answered by Eric Corey Freed

San Francisco, CA


July 31, 2007

If you want to shrink your household’s carbon footprint, the best place to start is with the heating and cooling systems, which account for 44 percent of the average home's energy use.

  • Cut the energy used to cool and heat your home by 10 percent and you will have reduced your overall household energy use by 4.4 percent.
  • (For the sake of comparison, a corresponding improvement in lighting efficiency will cut your energy use by 1.1 percent.)

Here are three summertime tips for efficiently cooling your home that you can act on immediately.

  1. Raise your thermostat. For each degree you raise the thermostat setting, you can expect to cut your cooling costs by at least 3 percent. You can do this manually or install a programmable thermostat.
  2. Let the cool air in and keep the hot sun out. To beat the summer heat without driving up your energy bills, draw the shades during the day (particularly on the west-facing side of the house) and open windows at night to bring in cooler air.
  3. Tighten the envelope. First, seal the leaks around windows and doors with foam strips and caulking. To find leaks, Flex Your Power recommends, "On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick next to windows, doors, electrical boxes ... and other locations where air is likely to leak outside." Next, make sure your attic and walls are well insulated. Adding a few hundred dollars worth of insulation can reduce your annual heating and cooling bill by 10 to 30 percent.


For more information:

Check out "10 Ways to Beat the Heat" for more straightforward advice to keep you cool.

Tagged In: heating cooling, green tips, summer energy

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