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It turns out some of the best ways to cut carbon emissions and reduce your environmental footprint are the easiest - and can make a huge difference.
Wood Mackenzie consulting found switching light bulbs, and upgrading washing machines and air conditioners has reduced carbon emissions as much as increased use of solar, wind and natural gas. Indeed, scaling efficiency is critical to meeting US emissions targets and allows us to grow the economy while reducing CO2 and energy costs. A 2015 study found: For much of the past five decades, global energy demand has been tightly intertwined with economic growth – but clear signs of a decoupling are emerging...driven by big improvements in energy efficiency and intensity (the amount of energy required per GDP output).
Small changes in some or all of these areas can dramatically reduce your environmental impact.
Your footprint will vary depending on where you live and work, but roughly stacks up something like this:
Everyone knows more sustainable solutions pay for themselves in cost savings, longer product life, and significantly better performance. But they also change markets.
For instance, lighting makes up about 5% of a home’s energy use. Energy efficient LEDs use up to 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 50 times longer.
Since 2008 they’ve fallen in price 94%. The footprint savings from manufacturing one versus 50 bulbs has fundamentally changed the industry. As purchasers turn to LED’s, they’re projected to make up 100% of the light bulb market by 2030 and are on track to reduce U.S. CO2 emissions by 100 million metric tons a year. Goodnet automatically calculates energy, CO2 and dollar savings from using LEDs. Here are some ideas to get started:
Renewable energy solutions continue to improve as costs come down. Since 2008, distributed solar photovoltaics have fallen 54%, and land based wind fell by 41% in cost.
An alternative to large installs, smaller scale solar and wind and even a combined install can make a home or office significantly more energy efficient. A geothermal system or something as simple as skylights to increase natural light and air flow can also make a major difference.
Built environment factors like insulation, double glazed windows, weather stripping, and HVAC systems matter, and so does energy automation.
Depending on your climate, region, and home or office layout, smart thermostats can reduce heating and cooling costs 10% to 30%. Second and third generation devices are now less expensive and integrate with home assistants.
Home assistants can now work with smart lights, switches, thermostats, and smart accessories to improve and automate energy use and increase efficiency.
An Energy Star certified refrigerator uses less energy than a 60-watt bulb. Energy Star certified clothes washers can cut your energy costs by about a third and water costs by more than half. Energy Star certified dishwashers, on average are 10% more energy efficient and 20% more water efficient than standard models, while saving on average 1,900 gallons of water over their lifetime. Most Energy Star appliances are also LEED recognized.
Environmental performance rated electronics are becoming more common. Energy Star, EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) and RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances, also known as Lead-Free) are a few of the leading ratings. Here are some rated electronics to consider:
Changing the way we manage our environmental footprint has a larger effect than people realize.
The products we choose send a powerful signal to upstream companies working to make sustainability a competitive market value. As new solutions become available for wider adoption entire industries can fundamentally change to reduce their ecosystem costs by several orders of magnitude. Getting started is as simple as setting goals for the year to own and reduce the main elements of your footprint. Every purchase is a vote for either the old or the new economy. As progress accelerates, we can transform consumer culture and entire industries in a single generation.
This post outlined the main components which make up our environmental footprint along with some solutions to improve energy efficiency. We’ll tackle other areas in future updates. To find thousands of independently rated sustainable solutions, visit www.goodnet.co.