Solutions Sustainability

10 Ways to Stop Your House from Contributing to Climate Change

A conceptual image of three Earths offset and superimposed over each other

Sometimes life gets away with us, and before we know it, leading an environmentally-friendly lifestyle slips lower down the priority list. However, the effects of climate change are more upon us now than ever before, and we no longer have time on our side.

The good news is that where we spend a lot of time–our homes–is entirely within our control, and the more we believe that, the more we can contribute to helping the planet. Therefore, spending a little time assessing how we’re currently running them is absolutely possible and reasonable. Take the following post-assessment steps to ensure you’re not contributing to climate change in entirely avoidable ways.

1. Power Down Your “Idle Load”

Have you considered how many active energy outlets you have running in your house? Well, your home will likely power around 65 separate devices at any one time – even when the devices are not switched on.

This “idle load” across all the homes in the US amounts to the output of over 50 major power plants, so don’t be complacent about fully charged devices, rarely used devices, and those on standby. Unplug wherever you can, or plug your devices into power strips or timers.

2. Go Plant-Based

Meat eaters consume over 7,000 animals in one lifetime: 11 cows, 27 pigs, 2,400 chickens, 80 turkeys, 30 sheep, and 4,500 fish. Each animal and its by-products require a tremendous amount of land, fuel, and water to reach the diner’s plate, so the most straightforward way households can stop contributing to climate change is by going plant-based or eating less meat.

3. Cut Down on Water Waste

While following a vegan lifestyle will indirectly reduce the water you consume, you can also save water directly in your household. Saving water reduces your home’s carbon footprint by reducing the energy expended to pump, heat, and treat water. Easy ways to save water include taking shorter showers, moving to WaterSense fixtures, and limiting baths.

4. Reuse, Recycle, and Compost

We use so much “stuff” that we can even throw more of it away. This applies to packaging, food, electronics, and many more. This ends up in a landfill, decomposing and releasing harmful gases such as methane.

Think before you throw something out – can you repurpose it for something else in your household? Can you “upcycle” it or sell it? If not, recycle it as appropriate and put organic waste into composters. Nitrogen is harnessed in a useful form instead of released into the atmosphere as methane.

5. Compact Fluorescent Lamps

It most likely will not be the first time you’re hearing this, but energy-efficient light bulbs consume 80 percent less energy compared to standard incandescent – while they’re more expensive to buy at the outset, they are far cheaper in the long run. If every home in America replaced only five bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps, greenhouse gas emissions would decrease by as much as off-roading 10 million cars.

6. Energy Star Your Appliances

Like your light bulbs, your white appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, and other electronic devices consume electricity, which causes greenhouse gases. If your appliances are getting on (think five years or more), it’s time to replace them with Environmental Protection Agency-approved Energy-Star-rated products. These products are energy efficient, and refrigerators also use fewer refrigerants.

7. Take a Long, Hard Look at Your HVAC System

As HVAC systems typically use energy in the way of natural gas or electricity, unfortunately, you are indeed making your home non-sustainable. Almost 90 percent of US homes have air-conditioners, which release over 100 million tons of carbon dioxide annually and contain refrigerants. The same goes for heating appliances. While you may not be able to replace your home heating system entirely, you can save money and reduce climate change effects by supplementing with active solar heating.

8. Hold a Climate Change Awareness Neighborhood Brunch

Talking with your friends, family, and neighbors are surefire ways to spread the benefits of living sustainably. Moreover, it reinforces the importance of curbing your contribution to climate change.

Holding neighborhood brunches or coffee mornings as info sessions are wonderful ways of living an environmentally-friendly way of life with your community.

9. Go Full Throttle on Renewable Energy

Opt for a utility company that has been Green-e Energy approved, as it will most likely be generating at least half of its power from wind and solar if so. If this is unavailable to you, scrutinize your electricity bill and assess how else you could support renewable sources.

10. Have You Heard of Weatherizing?

HVAC systems were discussed above, but did you know that building heating and cooling are among the most significant energy uses? Turn your space into a tighter envelope by sealing up cracks, window space gaps, and insulating your home to ensure you’re not wasting energy.

There are so many ways we can lessen our home’s contribution to climate change, and many of these methods support companies that are also actively changing the world around us as we speak. Do some good today, and don’t be complacent about how you run your home.


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