Summer is here and living green is as hot as the weather. We all want to do our part to live lighter on the planet while enjoying the summer months, when global warming seems so much more obvious.
Our two major sources of personal energy use are home and transportation, and air conditioning and travel mean that both go up in the summer. The good news is that simple steps can add up to big savings to both the environment and your wallet when it comes to summer energy use.
At home, turning up the thermostat just two degrees can save you up to eight percent on your power bill. Installing a programmable thermostat that automatically cuts down air conditioning use while you are not home can save even more. Better yet, put a fan in the window at night and let the cooler night air lower the temperature for free.
Before you hit the road, get a tune up. This simple step will improve gas mileage between 4% and 14%, while changing you air filter can improve mileage between 5% and 10%. Check tire pressure weekly, since maintaining optimal tire pressure can improve mileage another 3%. Slowing down also helps. According to the DOE, every 5 miles per hour that you drive above 65 mph costs 7% in fuel efficiency. Finally, you can gain an infinite increase in fuel efficiency simply by not idling the car just to run the air conditioner, a zero mpg activity.
After reducing what you can, offset the rest of your carbon footprint with carbonfund.org or terrapass.com. Each of these services invests in offset activities like efficiency projects or renewable energy to counterbalance the carbon impact of a specific trip or even an entire household. Now that’s a cool idea for summer.