When it comes to climate mitigation, the bulk of the work should be done by those with more resources, such as government institutions and large corporations. But as individuals, we can also do our part to make whatever contributions we can. Our article ‘The Intersectional Humanitarian — Pursuing Sustainability’ reports that by 2050, there will be twice the number of people who require humanitarian assistance due to environment-related disasters. That’s 200 million people. Unfortunately, those who are most vulnerable to the climate crisis belong to countries that do not have carbon emissions as high as developed countries. Meanwhile, America is the second largest carbon polluter in the world.
As a homeowner, you can do your part to mitigate the country’s carbon footprint. In the United States, residential energy use is responsible for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. To reduce your contribution to this number, you can change your home in a couple of ways to make it more eco-friendly. Below are a few such changes you can consider:
Install solar panels
Solar panels can do more than just lower the carbon emissions you may be producing due to the fossil fuels powering your home. They also allow you to save costs on energy bills when traditional energy sources are so prone to price fluctuations. This way, you can become energy-independent, even amid inflation. Hoymiles explains that solar panels today are much safer for homeowners, too. Today, microinverters allow you to forego string systems. Depending on how many panels you connect, the latter can run on as much as 1,000 to 1,500 V, making it a fire hazard. Microinverters, on the other hand, only carry 40 V, significantly reducing the risk of fires. It also allows you to monitor individual panels so you can easily detect and address any problems.
Adopt tankless water heaters
Pumping, treating, and heating water can take a lot of energy, so it’s crucial to adopt alternative heating systems to supply your home. A tankless water heater is more expensive than a standard heater but can save you more money in the long run due to lower monthly electricity costs. In addition, an article from Stanford discusses that tankless heaters are more efficient, burning fewer fossil fuels per gallon of hot water than their conventional counterparts. Usually, that’s around 18% less carbon than traditional storage water heaters.
Use eco-friendly appliances
Eco-friendly appliances can significantly reduce your carbon footprint, especially those you’re likely to use daily. This is particularly important since appliances are the biggest energy consumers in your house next to heating and cooling. Today’s eco-friendly appliances reduce their environmental impact by using energy and water more efficiently and utilizing easily recyclable materials such as brass, steel, or glass. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that these appliances use 10% to 50% less energy and water than their conventional counterparts. You can identify these appliances by looking for ENERGY STAR labels, which signify their compliance with EPA standards, reducing costs and energy and water usage. For instance, ENERGY STAR cooling and heating systems can cut costs by more than 20%, while washing machines use 25% less energy and ten fewer gallons of water.
Cultivate a home garden
Planting trees and other native plants in your home is one of the best long-term investments you can make for the environment. Trees naturally offset carbon emissions by absorbing carbon and turning it into oxygen. Trees can also provide shade, thus reducing the need for cooling systems in hotter seasons. You can also plant vegetables and spices, reducing your reliance on commercial sources that emit carbon from production to transportation. By composting food scraps, you can even produce your own fertilizer and reduce waste sent to landfills that generate methane, another greenhouse gas.
American homes can be a significant driver of carbon emissions. Adopting these changes can help you reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to climate change mitigation.
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Alicia Kurt is a freelance writer and a human and environmental advocate. Despite being a full-time mom of two kids, she still finds time to write and share her opinions on her causes to prompt changes even from home.