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  • Carol Jin

4 Effortless Ways You Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint At Home



Introduction

Environmentalism can look like a lot of things: cutting out meat from diets, regularly recycling, taking public transportation to work, etc. Typically, people who resist adopting green lifestyles have the preconception that they just cannot accommodate the time or effort required of sustainable practices. However, environmentalism does NOT have to be a struggle—in fact, there are so many ways that you can effortlessly reduce your carbon footprint, which is the amount of carbon dioxide your lifestyle produces. This article will list just 4 of those simple ways!


1. Delete Useless Emails (Yes, Sustainability Can Be This Simple!)

Many people are not aware that old emails cluttering their inboxes still require energy to be stored. This energy is provided at the cost of colossal carbon dioxide emissions by power plants, not to mention the tons of water spent to cool down the energy-generating machinery. If you think about it, these emissions are so wasteful and unneeded because in the end, their generated power is invested into storing irrelevant emails sent years ago and spam mail.


Here’s the math (don’t groan, it’s actually pretty fascinating!): If every single one of the ~2.3 billion email users in the world all deleted just 10 unneeded emails, it would reduce CO2 emissions by 39,035 metric tonnes, or 19,356 tonnes of coal burnt every day [1]. That translates to 43,011,215 pounds of coal burned or 4,392,371 gallons of gasoline [2]. Another mind-blowing statistic is that “spam filtering alone saves 135 TWh of electricity per year. That’s equivalent to 13 million cars off the road” [1].


I hope that you are as motivated to declutter your inbox as I was when I first read about these numbers. But how do you start? I personally filtered my Gmail inbox from oldest to newest and started deleting 50 emails at a time (because that is how many conversations show up at once on my laptop screen). Thankfully, I had labeled relevant emails throughout the years, so I was able to exclude those emails from my deep cleanse. Yes, the task is tedious and time-consuming, but it is relatively such an easy, yet effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. I strongly suggest that you at least delete the spam emails you have in your inbox.


See? Environmental sustainability can be pretty easy at times; in this case, it is only a few clicks away!


2. Dad Is Right—Don’t Touch The Thermostat

Recently, there have been a couple of memes circulating around the Internet about how fathers can’t stand when others adjust the temperature on the household thermostat. Well, depending on the temperature they want to maintain, it might be best to listen to them!



According to the Department of Energy [3], the ideal thermostat temperature is 68℉ (20℃) during colder months and 78℉ (25.6℃) during warmer months. The basic idea is to get to a comfortable indoor temperature that is as close to outdoor temperatures as possible, thus cutting back on unnecessary energy usage.


Winter is approaching fast, but keep in mind that reducing your heating by about 2℉ (1℃) can lower your energy consumption by 8% and “for an average household gas bill of 12,500 kWh this will reduce your CO2 emissions by 184 kg!” [4].


That being said, everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to temperature, and factors such as clothing or the time of day can also affect how cool/warm your surroundings feel. For more details on those specifics, here is a video from the Department of Energy that is only 2 minutes long!


3. Can I Get A “Watt Watt” For LED Lighting?

An analytical company called IHS Markit [5] released a report in 2017 stating that LEDs reduced the total carbon dioxide emissions of lighting by 570 million tons in that year: this is equivalent to closing 162 coal-fired power plants!


Since 2017, LED lighting’s popularity has skyrocketed and it is now used in everything from trendy, color-changing room lights to medical devices such as laryngoscopes. This versatility is partially thanks to LED’s energy efficiency, which is very environmentally friendly.


Courtesy of Lighting Ever


LEDs use about 40% less power than fluorescents and 80% less power than incandescents to produce the same amount of light [5]. This efficiency takes a huge load off of power plants and thus helps cut down the carbon footprint that comes from light fixtures. The next time your incandescent bulb flickers out, consider twisting on an LED light in its place!


4. Spend Less Time In The Shower—Every Minute Counts!

Most people have an inner Beyoncé side that loves to sing in the shower. And while it’s always fun to imagine your own concerts, consider keeping them short and sweet!


Reducing your shower time by a single minute can save 23 kg of CO2 per year (calculated under the conditions that you shower once a day and use 9 kWh of energy for each shower) [4]. And that’s assuming you have the water turned on for the whole duration of your shower—another easy practice that could reduce your carbon footprint would be to turn off your water whenever you don’t really need it (essentially, turning your water on only when you need to rinse off shower products and at the very beginning of your shower). Hopefully, this doesn’t stop you from fitting an encore into your shower concerts!


Thank you for reading! With our help, the world can make a U-Turn for the better.

Note: Bracketed numbers next to certain texts (e.g. [1], [2], etc.) indicate that the aforementioned information in the article is derived from the corresponding source in the References below.



References

[1] Garg, P. (2020, October 12). What if deleting emails could save our planet? https://medium.com/@parthgarg19/what-if-deleting-emails-could-save-our-planet-8667584367ee.

[2] Environmental Protection Agency. (2018, October 15). Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. EPA. https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator.

[3] Thermostats. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats.

[4] Carbon Reduction. Carbon Footprint. https://www.carbonfootprint.com/minimisecfp.html.

[5] LEDs Took Half a Billion Tons of Carbon Dioxide From the Sky in 2017, IHS Markit Says. News Release | IHS Markit Online Newsroom. (2017, December 21). https://news.ihsmarkit.com/prviewer/release_only/slug/energy-leds-took-half-billion-tons-carbon-dioxide-sky-2017-ihs-markit-says.

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