4 Ways to Help Stop Climate Change at Home

While it’s great to encourage your family, friends, and community to be more climate conscious, it’s important you, yourself, practice what you preach.

July 10, 2017
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Adapted from Al Gore's new book An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

You should lead by example by shrinking your carbon footprint and making climate-friendlier consumer choices. People will expect it, and they should. Furthermore, it will help you understand the intricacies of sustainable living and better inform your decisions.

More From Al Gore: How to Talk to Climate Change Deniers

utility bills
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1. Evaluate your current impact and set a target

Calculate how much energy you use by looking at your utility bills and setting a specific goal for reducing it: for example, 10 percent in six months.

It might help to use the EPA's Carbon Footprint Calculator.

recycling
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2. Audit your home

Search your home for opportunities to reach your goal. Inspect each room, making a list of everything that is plugged in. Look for and note any outright energy drains, such as drafts. 

Consider bringing in a professional to conduct an even more thorough evaluation, including inspecting major appliances and identifying areas that are missing insulation. The Department of Energy estimates that following a professional auditor's recommendations for efficiency upgrades can result in saving up to 30 percent on your energy bill.

Learn more at Energy Saver.

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3. Look for ways to save

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.

Garden.
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.

solar panels home
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4. Make the switch: consider going solar at home

You should start by asking your electric utility to switch to clean energy. Google has a great tool called Project Sunroof which shows you your solar options. 

 

Al Gore served as the 45th vice president of the United States; is the chairman of The Climate Reality Project, a nonprofit devoted to solving the climate crisis; and is the author of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power and the subject of a new documentary about his work on the Paris climate agreement.

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