Heating, cooling, and hot water.
Keeping a home heated and cooled comprises about half of the energy use in a typical American house, while water heating represents about 18 percent. There are simple ways to lower those figures. Use a programmable thermostat and make sure your water heater is insulated against heat loss. You may want to go further and invest in new, more efficient systems, which can often save more money than the purchase price in just a few years. In addition, solar water heaters are eligible for tax credits through 2021.
Any place with an outlet.
The average household owns dozens of consumer electronics, which add up to 12 percent of a home's electricity use. Consider updating to more efficient options, which you can find at Energy Star.
It is estimated that if every TV sold in the U.S. was EnergyStar-certified, 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions would be averted each year.
Planting the right trees around your home will help clean the air—and can add valuable shade that can reduce energy bills. Tree cover can naturally trim summer air-conditioning bills by up to 35 percent. Consider starting a compost pile, which helps save the energy used to transport food waste and keeps decaying organic matter from contributing methane emissions to a landfill.
Garage or driveway.
First, leave the car behind as often as you can. There are also several ways to improve your carbon footprint when using your vehicle, such as avoiding idling and keeping your tires inflated to the right pressure, which can save up to 10 percent on fuel. When it is time to replace your current vehicle, choose a more efficient option, ideally an electric vehicle.
Research available federal tax credits for EVs at fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxevb.shtml.