carbon footprint

With a Little Planning (and Money), You Can Shrink Your Carbon Footprint Even More

If you’ve read Part 1 of Knowing Your Carbon Footprint Can Inspire Energy Savings, you’ve probably now calculated your carbon footprint and have begun practicing the tips from our Beginner’s Guide to Reducing Your Carbon Footprint.  If so, you are now expert recyclers. You may now enjoy the coziness of that dimly lit room.  And just maybe, you’ve trained the kids to turn the faucet off while brushing their teeth. Are you enjoying the energy savings on your bill as well? Are ready to do even more to reduce your carbon footprint and trim your bill?

Carbon footprint-reducing actions in Part 2 involve a little planning, and in some cases, money.  Remember, any actions you take to reduce energy use are helpful. It may not be practical to take on all these suggestions.  See what you can do now. You can always adopt more later.

Below you’ll find two lists of money/energy savings ideas.  The first focuses on household-related actions for savings. The second list focuses on transportation-related actions.

Do you want to focus on more household savings to continue to shrink your carbon footprint?


  • Switch out your incandescent light bulbs for CFL (compact fluorescent lights) or LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs.  CFL bulbs use 25% less electricity and LED use at least 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs.  Plus, CFL bulbs last 10 times longer and LED bulbs 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. While CFL and LED bulbs are more expensive to purchase, over the life of the bulb, you’ll be saving on bulbs and electricity.  According to, you can save $75 each year just by switching your five most used light fixtures over to ENERGY STAR®, bulbs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat.  After just minutes to program, you can pre-set your thermostat to suit your needs 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  You can set it and forget it to take control of your energy use and your heating/cooling budget. According to, homeowners can save an estimated $180 a year on their energy budgets when using a programmable thermostat correctly. Thermostats with the most flexibility to schedule each day independently are costlier and more complex to program than a thermostat that only schedules weekdays vs. weekends, for instance.  Whether you select a digital or SMART thermostat, make sure you assess your needs and your system’s needs by talking to your HVAC professional first.
  • Use a surge protector with a switch to truly turn electronics off.  Electronics use standby power and continue to draw electricity unless unplugged.  Instead of the hassle of unplugging each electronic, plug electronics that you typically use together into a surge protector with a switch.  In the office: computer, printer, lamp, phone charger, shredder. In the family room: TV, game system, cable box, DVD, stereo. This makes “unplugging” as simple as the flip of a switch.
  • Air dry clothing in warmer/dryer weather instead of using your dryer.  “Clothes dryers use more energy than any other household appliance, contributing to higher energy bills and unwanted carbon pollution,” states  With a little more time and no additional cost, you can save big. Plus, in warmer months, not running the dryer also keeps your house cooler, which can increase your savings.
  • Air dry or towel dry dishes from the dishwasher to avoid using energy for the dry cycle.
  • Schedule regular maintenance of your heating/cooling system and water heater to ensure peak efficiency.
  • Plant a tree.  Plants help filter the CO2 out of the air.  Plus, when planted strategically, they can also provide shade or wind protection to your home, decreasing  your energy spending.
  • Have a yard sale or donate to charity.  This keeps useful items out of the landfill and decreases the need for natural resources to re-manufacture new goods.  Get kids excited about selling or donating their old toys as one way they can help shrink your family’s carbon footprint.
  • Use the library.  Instead of buying books that will later collect dust on your shelf, borrow books or e-books from your local library.
  • Upgrade to ENERGY STAR® certified appliances.  When you’re ready to upgrade, or your old appliance tells you it’s ready, shop for an ENERGY STAR® certified appliance.  Savings vary by appliance, but consider this.  An ENERGY STAR® washer can save 25% on energy and approximately 33% on water…an ENERGY STAR® dryer can save about 20% on energy, states  
  • Install solar panels on your roof.  If your home has the correct sun exposure, you can find significant money/energy savings here.


Ready to Trim Your Transportation-Related Carbon Footprint?

  • Put air in your tires and schedule a tune-up.  Low tire pressure makes your car work harder, which uses more gas.  Regular tune-ups keep your car operating most efficiently.


  • Combine errands.  With just a few minutes of planning, you can schedule your errands strategically to use the least gas, and probably save you precious time, too.


  • Carpool or public transportation.  The less you use your car, the less you’ll be spending on gas (and car maintenance) and the fewer carbon emissions you’ll be emitting into our air.  Plus, you’ll have more time to catch up on email, the news, or a little shut-eye during your commute.
  • Buy an electric vehicle (EV), especially if you drive a high number of miles per day.  According to, “On national average, it costs less than half as much to travel the same distance in an EV than a conventional vehicle.”  Plus, EVs run more efficiently and costs of electricity are more stable than gasoline.


Feeling overwhelmed?  There are lots of energy saving tips to consider.  While every strategy might not work for you, pick the strategies that you can consistently commitment to (or that will save you the most energy) to trim your energy budget and shrink your carbon footprint the most.  Every little bit helps!

For more energy saving ideas click here.