Shopping Tips for Energy-Saving Appliances
All electronic devices, even if not in use, continue to draw power when plugged in. This is known as phantom power, vampire power, or phantom loads. By leaving electronics plugged into an electrical socket, you could be wasting (and paying for) energy that you aren’t using.
To minimize your energy loss, unplug electronics when not in use. Another solution is to utilize power strips, so you can plug in multiple items and switch them all off at once when you leave the room.
Weatherization is a way to help save money and energy by making energy-efficient improvements to your home. Weatherizing your home can include many things, including improving ventilation, adding insulation or weather-stripping, or upgrading heating and cooling systems. Not only do these improvements lower your utility bill, but they help waste less energy, improve health and safety in homes, and reduce overall environmental impact.
Wondering how energy-efficient your home is? Ask your utility provider to complete a home energy audit – they are often done for free.
Learn about Weatherization Best Practices from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: www.myfloridahomeenergy.com/help/library/weatherization/weatherization-practices
What is CO2 and why is it important?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the major greenhouse gases, which trap heat in our atmosphere. Actions such as burning fossil fuels and removing trees for development release large amounts of CO2. As population and fossil fuel use increases, so do the amount of greenhouse gases released into our atmosphere, which increases warming.
We each have a carbon footprint. What does this mean?
Our lifestyles and daily activities have an effect on the environment. Carbon footprint refers to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are released into the atmosphere by someone or something, such as a building, vehicle, etc. By driving cars or using electricity in our homes, we are directly or indirectly contributing to the release of carbon emissions into the air.
In what ways do we release carbon emissions?
Transportation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Every time we drive or ride in a vehicle, we are directly emitting CO2 through the burning of gasoline. It is estimated that about 20 lbs of CO2 are emitted per gallon of gasoline burned. This means for a car that gets about 24 mpg, a round-trip from Tallahassee to Miami would release about 780 lbs of CO2.
We also use fossil fuels indirectly. Every time we plug our phone into an outlet, watch television or take a hot shower, we are indirectly using fossil fuels. This is because the electricity we use is typically generated from the burning of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and oil. It’s easy to forget this impact when we don’t physically see it happening. On average, a single American home produces roughly 2,204 lbs of CO2 each month!
Curious about your carbon footprint? Try using EPA’s Household Carbon Footprint Calculator to estimate your household’s annual impact.
What can we do to reduce our impact?
We can become more mindful in our everyday activities – this can also lead to other benefits, like cost savings and increased health, too!
- Conserve energy. Follow tips to reduce energy use, such as turning off lights when leaving a room, unplugging electronics not in use, and using your A/C and heating systems wisely (keep the temperatures reasonable – 76-78 in the summer and 68-70 in the winter, or avoid using the system altogether when the weather is nice outside).
- Use water wisely. It may seem like an endless resource, but it’s actually becoming more and more scarce – and using water indirectly uses energy, as well. Try reducing your shower time to 5-7 minutes, not letting the faucet run while washing dishes or hands, and fixing any leaks found in pipes or faucets. You can also capture rainwater and use it to irrigate your lawn instead of running water from the hose.
- Reduce your waste by avoiding, reusing and recycling. It takes massive amounts of energy to extract and manufacture products that often only have a single use – not to mention the negatives associated with transporting garbage, landfilling (costs, pollution, environmental harm, reduced space), and wasted resources. The best thing to do is to use less stuff, and to reuse items as many times as possible before disposing or recycling them. Try purchasing a reusable water bottle, using reusable bags, and storing things in reusable containers instead of disposable plastic baggies. Reusable dining ware is also great, since it can be washed and doesn’t have to be thrown out. Learn more in our Waste Reduction section.
- Think before you drive. Before hopping in the car, ask yourself: Is this trip necessary? Can I walk, bike or carpool there instead? Transportation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, so it is one of the biggest ways to make an impact. Taking alternative transportation can actually increase health, offer opportunities for social interaction, and save money.
- Be a conscious consumer. When we buy things, the energy and resources needed to create the item and get it to the store is typically not at the top of our minds. Use your best judgment when purchasing items in effort to reduce waste, energy, and support local businesses. Buying local is not only beneficial for the local economy, but it also can mean less fossil fuels used in the process of transportation (and a smaller carbon footprint)! Read more about green purchasing.
Get involved locally
Sustainable Tallahassee, supported by Leon County, is a local non-profit organization working to promote environmental, economic and social sustainability in the Tallahassee area. They provide an opportunity for citizens to contribute to carbon reduction through the Community Carbon Fund. The Community Carbon Fund accepts donations, which are then used to assist other local non-profit organizations (specifically those that serve low-income or disadvantaged individuals) with energy-saving retrofits to their facilities. The retrofits not only reduce greenhouse gas CO2 emissions – they also help non-profits benefit from an immediate reduction in utility costs, freeing up more of their funds to serve clients.
Be sure to visit their page to learn more!