Making the Carbon Footprint Smaller: the First Steps


Reducing levels of carbon emissions has to be more than just an opinion. Society will literally choke in a fog of chat if nothing is done by individuals. While it is true that large corporations need to do a lot of the heavy lifting, it is at the local micro – level where a lot of positive steps can be made to reduce the size of the carbon footprint we leave behind. It does take a commitment to making positive movement forward. The question then remains what type of step and how big it ought to be.

The good news is that the first actions do not have to be major ones to make a sizable difference. The beginning effort is not much more than well-organized house maintenance with energy reduction in mind. A homeowner can use a benchmark of reducing the number of kilowatt hours of electricity expended by a given percentage (e.g. 10 to 20 percent annually), and work to meet that goal. Air filters ought to be changed on a quarterly basis and all heating ducts should also be kept clean. In reducing energy consumption, thermostats are a very valuable tool. A programmable thermostat can monitor the amount of heat in a room, and if any space is not used regularly simply closing the heating vents in the area will reduce consumption. Space heaters and installed heating pads can also cut down on the wasted energy in rooms not always in use.

Windows and doors are notorious for being escape passages for heat. There’s no reason to warm or cool the outside and a little insulation along the frames can stop the door drafts from happening. There are number of options that a green DIY enthusiast can use for the windows. Winter based Low-E Window film is an energy saver that reflects considerable amounts of heat back into the room, but this incurs the expense of the professional installer if you do not want to install it yourself. Insulation can easily be placed on the borders of the window frames, and simple plastic sheet coverings can also prevent heat from escaping through the window. The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy have partnered in the Energy Star program to help conserve energy. Windows that have the Energy Star seal are designed to conserve heat, and these can be installed immediately or when the older windows need to be replaced. The Energy Star program, by the way, has a number of strategies and alternatives on its web site that a DIY person can use.

These are all fairly low cost, small effort means of cutting down on energy consumption. Doors can be simply draft proofed with spray foam insulation, and with the exception of window installation all of these improvements can be Saturday projects for the homeowner. People often are intimidated by cost of energy saving equipment and hesitate to do anything because of it. What is important to know is that of none of the ideas mentioned are overly expensive. Materials are available from a number of sources, and will make a noticeable improvement in the use of electricity or other fuel in the house. Making use of them will cut consumption which in turn reduces carbon emission, making for a smaller carbon footprint and a more environmentally friendly residence.

Comments (0)