25 Acts on Climate Change: The Way We Use Energy

(Photo: Beamie Young/NIST)

(Photo: Beamie Young/NIST)

How much do you use energy in your home? When we use electricity or gas from our electronics, devices, and appliances, greenhouse gas emissions are produced. In these days of high reliance on tech products, are not using any electronics could be an option?

The alternatives is by using more energy-efficient electronics. In theory, by making your home more energy-efficient, it will cause the power plants to expend less energy, which leads to fewer carbon emissions. It also reduces pollution and saves you money.

So, consider it and try making some or all of these changes. Whether it has a small or huge impact on your household use of energy. You should do any way you can to cut down your household energy usage. To act on climate change, we should change the way we use energy.

Calculate and Audit

1. Calculate your carbon footprint

Calculating your carbon footprint is the very first easy and important step to act on climate change. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it! By calculating your carbon footprint, you will know how much is your impact on the planet.

There are many carbon footprint calculators online. Some of them are UN Carbon Footprint Calculator, Carbon Footprint Calculator, and CoolClimate Network Calculator.

To know how you use energy, you can focused on the household category. You’ll calculate your consumption of electricity or from any other source of energy like natural gas, heating oil, or wood.

2. Get a home energy audit

Doing a home energy audit can show you how much your home energy consumption. It can identify in which areas you can make the most energy-saving gains. Most assessments could help save 5 to 30% on your energy bills, and of course, reduce your home’s carbon footprint.

Electronics and Appliances

3. Unplug electronics when not in use

Use less electricity by unplugging your computers, TVs and any other electronics and devices from the wall socket when they’re not in use. If an electronics appears to be off, it doesn’t mean it’s not drawing power.

Devices when on “sleep mode” or in an idle power mode consume a quarter of all residential energy consumption. Group your devices on power strips to be able to turn them off at the same time.

4. Replace electronics and appliances with more energy-efficient ones

Like your heating unit, cooling unit, light bulbs, washing machine, dishwasher, and showers.

5. Clean or replace HVAC filters regularly

Regularly change and clean your air conditioner filters every three months. Dirty filters make the system work harder and also waste energy.

6. Buy appliances with the Energy Star label

When buying new or replacing old appliances, choose that’s Energy Star certified. Energy Star-certified products are more energy-efficient.

7. Run washing appliances only when full

Run the washing machine or dishwasher only when full to save electricity.

8. Install a programmable thermostat

A smart automatic thermostat will assess when you’re home, how quickly your property heats up, and the weather. It can help you reduce your energy usage. To save energy, try to adjust your thermostat to run 2 degrees warmer in the summer and 2 degrees cooler in the winter. There are many products available like Nest or Ecobee.

Lights

9. Turn off lights when not in use

Turn off lights when not in use. Instead of using electric lighting at noon, use natural light from the daylight.

10. Replace your light bulbs with LEDs

90% of the energy used by traditional light bulbs is wasted to produce heat. A quality LED light bulbs are more durable than traditional bulbs. It also could last 25 times longer and use at least 75% less energy. So start to change your bulbs to LEDs!

Home temperature

11. Warm: Glaze windows and doors

10% of your home heat escapes through the windows. Double or triple-glazed your windows to make the house warmer and reduce outside noise. Replace your doors with well-insulated ones.

12. Warm: Insulate your home walls

One-third of your home heat escapes through the walls. You could install loft insulation, cavity-wall insulation or insulated wallpaper. Loft insulation is simple and cheap. You can install it on your own or get a professional. Fit it to a depth of 270 mm.

For cavity wall insulation, get a professional because it’s harder to insulate solid walls. It will cut 20% of your bills and emissions. Insulated wallpaper is not as good but it’s much cheaper.

13. Warm: Draught-proof your home

15% of your home heat is lost through draughts. In the winter, draughty doors, windows, and floorboards make your home chilly and wasting heat. Install it by yourself or get it done by professionals.

14. Warm: Install low-carbon heating

In the winter, a well-insulated house still needs heating. Instead of a conventional heater, opt to the eco-heating ones. A heat pump could cut 60% of your emissions. Heat pump work by extracting heat from the air outside and transferring it to another place. It even works below freezing.

15. Warm: Keep heating to 18°C or cooler

Turning down your heater to 18°C or cooler will saves you around 10% of energy per degree. 18°C is recommended as the minimum temperature for people over 65 and those with a medical condition by health professionals.

16. Cool: Keep your home cool

You can keep your home cool in the summer by closing your blinds and curtains, cooling yourself before your home, giving your oven a break, and using fewer appliances during the day.

17. Cool: Keep air conditioner to 24°C or warmer

Ease off your air conditioner by turning it up to 24°C or warmer. But try to just use a fan. Also regularly change your dirty AC filters.

Water

18. Use less water

According to the 2019 UN-Water policy brief, climate change increases water cycle variability which makes extreme weather events more frequent. It threatens billions of people’s access to water and sanitation services.

Using less water means less treatment and pumps of so much water, so less money spent on energy, additional reservoirs, and chemicals. Reduced energy usage in the pumping of water means reduced carbon emissions. Less chemicals used for water treatment means less energy and materials used in the production.

19. Wash clothes in cold water

Laundering in warm water costs more money and energy. The process of warming the water accounts for 75% of the produced greenhouse gas emissions and total energy use by a single load of laundry. Also, studies show that washing in cold water is as effective as using warm. Wash your clothes in cold water and dry them outdoors when possible.

20. Hang-dry your clothes

If all Americans line-dried their clothes for half a year, US total residential output of CO2 could be cut by 3.3%. Instead of using the dryer, consider hang-dry your clothes. When you can’t hang-dry, use dryer balls.

21. Take a shorter showers

The average American uses 25,300 gallons of water a year (69.3 gallons daily) according to Boston University. An average shower uses about 5 gallons of water per minute. If you try to shorten it by 2 minutes, you can cut 10 gallons of your water use.

By making this kind of simple changes in your daily routine, you can help reduce wasting this precious resource. So, let’s try to have shorter showers to save energy and water!

22. Install a rainwater harvesting system

This activity in Indonesia can cut 30% of the water used during the rainy season and benefit over 20,500 people directly. It has engaged 40 households to utilize a school’s communal rainwater harvesting system that sits next to the neighborhood.

A rainwater harvesting system could be an alternatives for clean water during a drought. It works by catching and collecting rainwater in a water tank.

Energy sources

23. Find out where’s your electricity comes from

Contact your utility company and ask them to find out the supplied electricity sources if it’s possible. Is it coming from renewable energy or coal plants? If it’s possible, see if you can opt-in “green pricing“. Green pricing means paying slightly more in exchange for renewable energy sources of electricity.

24. Install solar power panels

For now, the cleanest form of power we can use is from renewable energy. Solar power price is plunging and there are many products available from increasingly diverse companies. The market growth rates are exceeding 10% and expected to resume in the early 2020s.

U.S. Department of Energy has a homeowners guide to going solar that you can look at. Meanwhile, Project Sunroof by Google could help you calculate your solar savings potential.

25. Install a solar water heating system

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, most American homes and businesses use electricity, natural gas, or oil to provides hot water. Up to 14% of the US average household energy use and nearly 4% of total US energy consumption accounts from heating water.

Solar water heating (SWH) tech is cost-effective, reliable, and simple. SWH systems work by collecting sun’s energy to heat air or fluid, then it transfers solar heat to your water supply. Across the US, there are currently more than 300,000 installed SWH units.

An SWH system can meet the hot water needs of a typical household by 50 to 80%. SWH system installation help reduces the demand for fossil fuels as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

References:
Australian Psychological Society. 101 Things You Can Do To Help Address Climate Change.

David Suzuki Foundation. 2018. Top 10 Things You Can Do About Climate Change. July 3.

Friends of the Earth. Saving Energy at Home: Heating and Insulation.

New Zealand Ministry for the Environment. What You Can Do About Climate Change.

Sisson, P., Barber, M., Walker, A. 2019. 101 Ways to Fight Climate Change. Curbed. October 9.

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