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HOW TO: Use a Carbon Footprint Calculator to Maximize Energy Savings
At one time or another, you’ve probably used a carbon calculator to find out how you’re impacting the planet. But what’s next? What happens after you know how many tons of emissions you’ve caused? Your carbon footprint is tied directly to how much energy you consume. By reducing one, you effectively reduce the other. It’s time to leverage the information gained calculating your carbon footprint to save energy and money each month – read on to learn how.
In your car
One of the biggest contributors to your carbon footprint is your car. Every gallon of gasoline used emits 24 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. That’s why the first questions asked when you calculate your impact usually have to do with travel. The number of miles you drive each year and your gas mileage play a big role in your environmental impact. Once you have that information, you can take educated steps to significantly reduce your car-related expenses and lower your carbon footprint.
A few simple changes to your driving habits should do the trick. For example, avoiding aggressive driving — speeding or rapid acceleration and breaking — could improve your fuel efficiency by 33 percent in some cases, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Depending on your vehicle, you might be able to save $1.09 per gallon and keep pounds of emissions out of the atmosphere.
On a plane
Driving isn’t the only thing that can drive up your carbon footprint. If you travel by plane you likely have a bigger environmental impact than someone who doesn’t. The Guardian reports that one transatlantic flight could cause more emissions than an entire year’s worth of driving. As you calculate your footprint, keep tabs on the number of flights you’ve taken each year.
Although it’s still environmentally taxing, there are ways to reduce your travel impact on a plane. Because planes use the most energy during takeoff and landing, nonstop flights help eliminate unnecessary emissions. You could also choose to cut down on your travel or vacation somewhere closer to home to reduce your carbon footprint. And if you reduce the number of flights you take each year, you should see a drastic decease in your total carbon emissions and you’ll save some money too.
In your home
Another common question asked when you calculate your carbon footprint is how much energy you use or how much your average electric bill is. This helps determine the environmental impact of day-to-day living in your home. While it may be discouraging to see how much of an impact you make, knowing provides a huge opportunity. A few simple changes around your home can earn you big bucks from energy savings.
Because your electricity consumption plays a big part in your carbon footprint, finding ways to conserve power in your home can help you mitigate environmental harm. And as a bonus, you’ll probably save money on your energy bill. You might choose to switch out your light bulbs. Swapping out old incandescent bulbs with efficient LED bulbs could knock up to 75 percent of your lighting costs. Or you might want to try changing the temperature on your air conditioner. Keep it at 78 degrees or higher in the summer for maximum efficiency.
Paul Batistelli freelances in the energy field for the promotion of a greener society and energy means. He works to raise awareness on ecological issues, energy dependency, and reducing carbon footprints.
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