Our homes, for many people, are one of the most significant sources of greenhouse gas carbon emissions, responsible for around 25-30% of our total footprint. This is because our homes are constantly using electricity, created by power plants far away from us, predominantly powered by coal, oil, or natural gas.
Here are the main sources of electricity use in the home:
1. Heating and Cooling - 46% of total energy use
The vast majority of our home’s electricity is consumed by our air conditioning and heating units. So the easiest way to reduce the emissions in our home is to limit their use as much as possible. People live all over the world in different climates, but setting your AC unit to 78 degrees in the summer, and at 65 degrees in the winter, will generally limit these units from unnecessary use. Dressing for the weather outside, lighter clothes in the summer, and heavier clothes in the winter, while inside will make your house more comfortable overall. Of course, turning your AC and heating off permanently is ideal, but that is not really realistic in areas with extreme weather.
2. Water Heater - 14% of total energy use
Surprisingly, the water heaters in our homes consume a fairly large portion of household electricity. To decrease this amount of energy, the first step is to identify where your water heater is located, which will either be in a tucked away closet, or somewhere in the basement of your house. You should then turn it down to 120 degrees or lower, which will decrease the energy needed to keep your water hot. You can then put an insulated blanket around it to reduce the heat needed to keep your water warm.
3. Appliances - 13% of total energy use
Washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, etc., all add up to around 1/6th of your home’s energy usage. The best thing you can do to reduce your emissions, is to only do full loads with the washer, dryer, and dishwasher.
4. Lighting - 9% of total energy use
Obviously, we all know that LED lights are the most energy efficient bulbs that are out there. Go room by room and check your light bulbs to make sure they are LEDs, because they use around 16% of the energy incandescent bulbs use. And of course, turn out the lights when leaving the room!
5. Other - 4% of total energy use
Energy vampires can be responsible for consuming significant amounts of a household's energy, even when not in use. These devices are often characterized by bricks and wall warts; big blocky devices that continuously pull power from the wall socket, and by a standby light or clock. A simple way to limit this energy drain is to unplug them when not in use, or use a power strip so that you can turn it off and on when you need to use those devices.
We all love our homes. They are our refuge, and provide us with comfort. While they are responsible for a significant amount of our emissions, there are steps we can take to reduce them. Carbon Down was founded to empower you to reduce your avoidable emissions, and offset your unavoidable emissions and we hope you join our growing community of climate champions working together to reverse the climate crisis, one home at a time.