Tuesday, 9 June 2009

How to Reduce Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Although the climate changes naturally on its own, humans contribute heavily to pollution of the environment. More and more people are wondering how they can do their part to help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. While change won't happen overnight, here are steps that you can take against global warming.

  • Steps

House & Garden

  1. Grow your own food. Planting things like berry bushes, garden vegetables and herbs will help you eat locally so you won't have to worry about food miles.
  2. Eat locally. Fruit and vegetables in supermarkets and most markets are often shipped or flown from distant countries, even if they can easily be grown locally. This requires the burning of fossil fuels for transport, so buying locally grown produce can save a lot of oil.
  3. Redecorate with Eco-products. If you need to repaint your house, use latex paint rather than oil-based. Latex paint releases significantly fewer harmful fumes while drying and smells a lot better - it's healthier for you, too.
  4. Buy energy-efficient appliances with the "Energy Star" label. These will require less energy to do their job, meaning lower bills and less fossil fuels being burned.
    • If you can't do this, use your existing appliances efficiently; make sure the dishwasher and washing machine are full before running them to save energy and money.
    • Hang-dry your laundry rather than putting it in the dryer and put them outside on a clothesline on dry days. Hang-drying will also make your clothes last much longer.
  5. Sign up for renewable energy. Some companies in the UK, such as Good Energy Limited and Ecotricity, are 100% renewable electricity companies. A lot of normal energy companies also offer "green tariffs" - if they don’t offer clean electricity, ask them why not.
  6. Reduce your heating.
    • Weather-proof your home. Caulk and weather-strip your doorways and windows. Add insulation, especially to the roof, it drastically cuts heating and cooling expenses. Change your windows for double glazing. Add outside shades to use in summer. Not only will all this save energy, it will save you money too!
    • Check your thermostat. Chances are you don't need the heating on at all in the summer, and in the winter you can turn it down a little and wear extra layers.
  7. Reduce your electricity use.
    • Unplug your cell phone charger, TV and other electronics from the wall when you are not using them, because they use energy when plugged in and on standby. The process can be made easier if you have everything plugged into a surge protector with its own switch.
    • Turn off lights and other energy-sucking devices when they aren’t being used.
    • Replace older light bulbs with energy-saving fluorescent bulbs. Fluorescent light bulbs are a little more expensive, but much more efficient - they use about a seventh of the power and last about 12 times longer.
      • Replace fluorescent light bulbs with Ultra Compact LEDs (UCLEDs). These use less energy and last longer than fluorescent light bulbs. Additionally UCLEDs do not contain any dangerous mercury. Even though LED light bulbs are currently more expensive, remember that your money is spent for a good cause: it will pay for the development of cheaper and more effective generation of LEDs.
    • If you're leaving your computer for a while, put it on stand-by. You'll be able to restart it quickly, and it'll take less energy than shutting it down and then restarting it.
    • Set bSaves - Saving Energy Search Engine as your homepage in order to minimize your computer monitor display output. The website is a black version of the Google search engine and was designed to conserve energy.
  8. Try alternative energy devices. Windmill kits are inexpensive and a great source of electricity in windy areas. Solar energy, especially solar collectors for water heaters, is possible for most homes. Some companies will buy back excess electricity.
  9. Buy durable goods. As much as possible buy items that will last instead of buying the same item several times in a decade. It will save on transport and manufacturing emissions.
  10. Install a hot water heat recycling unit to significantly reduce either electricity or the fuel burned for domestic water heating. Water heat goes to waste as it leaves dishwashers, clothes washers or the shower. This heat energy can be recovered to lower the energy needed and save on water heating costs.
  11. Reduce the usage of refrigerants and air-conditioners.
  12. Pack your refrigerator more tightly to reduce cooled air.
  13. Use a reel (cylinder) lawnmower. This needs no power supply, and is also much quieter for you and your neighbors.
    • If you can't do all of your tasks by hand, there are rechargeable electric mowers.
  14. Reduce your fully vented septic tank greenhouse gases by using a septic vent pipe filter.

Water Conservation

These tips will help save money on your bills as well as water.

  1. Take short showers and share bathwater. Showers use much less water. The other choice is to fill a bucket with water and take a can or a jug, and keep filling it with water from the bucket and pouring it over your head - if you have some extra water save it for some other person to use. You can lather yourself up with the water turned off in the middle of the shower.
  2. Pollute less. Soap pollutes less than a shower gel. When washing dishes, wash greasy pans last to keep the water clean.
  3. Turn off taps properly. Especially when brushing your teeth - every little bit helps.
  4. Fix dripping taps. The constant drip wastes water, energy and money, so repair them as soon as possible. You can also save by installing an inexpensive "flow control" device in shower heads and faucets.
  5. Turn down your water heater. The water heater is the second largest energy consumer in the home and using it efficiently can reduce emissions. If your house will be vacant for two or more days, you can lower the temperature of your water heater or even switch it off until you return.
    • If you have a new water heater, drain a few gallons from your tank every six months to remove sediment that accumulates and reduces the heater's efficiency.
    • If you only use your hot water once or twice a day, consider installing a timer on your hot water heater and set it up to run two hours in the morning and the evening.
    • The hot water heater setting can safely be lowered to 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit or 60 Celsius.
    • Wrapping a fiberglass blanket around your water heater and securing it with duct tape, or installing a ready-made insulation kit, can save up to 10% on water heating costs. Most new water heaters are already insulated, so this tip is most effective for heaters that are more than five years old. Also, insulate hot water pipes to reduce heat loss as the hot water is flowing to your faucets.
  6. Use appliances efficiently. Running the clothes washer with a full load and using cold water (30 degrees Celsius) whenever possible can lead to big energy savings. Use detergents that clean clothes effectively in colder water.
  7. Use an efficient dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. The more efficient models of dishwasher use less water and power than washing dishes by hand, which uses many bowls of hot water. Only run it when it's full.
    • When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for models that require less hot water. Dishwashers differ in the number of gallons of hot water used in the wash cycle.
    • Many new dishwashers have an internal water heater that raises the temperature of the incoming water to 140 degrees. This device allows you to turn down the temperature on the water heater in your home and still have your dishes washed thoroughly.
    • Take advantage of the energy saving control on many dishwashers. It turns off the heat during the drying cycle. Opening the dishwasher after the rinse cycle and letting the dishes air dry is another way to save energy.


It may take up to one year for one tree to fix the amount of CO2 found in 3 litres of gas, so:

  1. Buy a bike and use it. With gas prices so high, it will pay for itself. Ride it to work, to run errands, or to have fun. Everyone benefits when you ride a bike. You help conserve our limited oil resources, you are not polluting, and you are exercising. Encourage your spouse, kids, co-workers and friends to join you. Some companies have even started offering incentives to employees who bike to work. Ask your employer about installing a shower at the office for longer, or hotter, commutes. Bikes can be loaded on buses to extend its range.
  2. Buy an electric bike or an electric motor add on kit for a regular bike. This is a significant benefit for those who aren't in shape, have a long way to cycle, have to bike on hot days or don't want to sweat, or have to ride through lots of hills.
  3. Walk short distances rather than drive. It may be convenient to drive, but let's face it, it probably takes longer than walking would, and emits pollutants to boot.
  4. Use public transportation or carpool for long trips. These options may take a little longer, but you can read, listen to headphones, work on computer or craft projects, or talk to people instead of having to stare straight ahead for the length of your commute. There are many carpool and ride share websites on the internet for both regular and one-time trips, such as craigslist.org for one-time trips. Your city government/county council might also facilitate carpool trips.
  5. Consolidate your trips. If you must drive to do laundry, shopping, etc., plan to do all weekly errands on one day. You can get everything you need in one trip, saving you money and time. It's also more fuel efficient to start a car if it's already warmed up.
  6. Use less gas. The gas you pump into your car or SUV is derived from fossil fuels which, when burnt, release a good share of greenhouse gases into the air. Read the Related wikiHow articles on How to Save Money on Gas and Increase Fuel Mileage on a Car.
  7. Consider ditching the car altogether.
  8. Research biodiesel. This is a diesel made from a percentage of plant and animal fat (in some cases reused fat). This is not suitable for all diesel engines.
  9. Research energy efficient, electric, hybrid and diesel engines when buying a new car, motorbike or scooter. You can get a reduction in tax and congestion charges in some countries.


  1. Eat low on the food chain. This might mean becoming vegetarian or even vegan. On average, it takes nearly 10 times as much fossil fuel to produce animal protein (including commercially caught or farmed fish) compared to plant protein, like beans and grains. According to a 2006 University of Chicago study, a vegan diet contributes 1.5 fewer tons of CO2 or CO2 equivalents to the atmosphere each year than the average North American diet.
  2. Buy local produce when you go to the grocery store rather than items trucked in from far away, and bring it home in reusable bags. There can be exceptions, as when imported food has been produced in a more sustainable way than local and then shipped (energy efficient) rather than flown (very energy inefficient).
  3. Buy sustainable or organically-produced food. Conventional farming uses massive quantities of petrochemicals in the manufacture of artificial pesticides and fertilizers and to run farm machinery. Organic and other traditional or natural farmers use minimal fossil fuel inputs. Some even use draft animals instead of internal combustion engines.


  1. Buy only post-consumer recycled paper products, including toilet paper and tissues. The paper industry is the third greatest contributor to global warming emissions. Buying recycled is as important as recycling - it's called "closed loop" recycling.
    • Don’t buy from companies that refuse to make post-consumer paper! Producing new paper, glass, and metal products from recycled materials saves 70% to 90% of the energy and pollution that results from products made from virgin materials.
  2. Buy certified FSC wood to support sustainably managed forests. This includes garden furniture, wooden-handled hair brushes and bird boxes.
  3. Take corporate action. Tell the companies you invest in that you care about global warming and you will pull your investments if they don’t address the issue. Don’t like a company’s stance on global warming? Go to shareholder meetings and speak up!
  4. Look for the CarbonCounted logo. There is a logo called CarbonCounted that companies can put on their products to communicate their carbon footprint. Look for products that have a low Carbon Counted footprint number.
  5. Avoid using plastic bags from grocery stores. The 5-cent solution has gone into action in many stores, which is charging a 5 cent fee on a plastic bag. Use reuseable bags, boxes, or just carry your items. If you need a plastic one, make sure you use it again and again!


  1. Look into Transition Towns. This is an initiative that focuses on the strength and sharing of community to cope with the peak oil phenomenon.
  2. Knowledge is power. Learn everything you can about global warming. What is it? How does global warming work? Why is it happening? What are the causes? What are the critics saying?
  3. Write to the editor of your local newspaper about the dangers of global warming.
  4. Start a petition. Then hand this over to the local politicians.
  5. Call a local radio talk show to tell them you care about global warming or to question a skeptic.
  6. Join a national or local environmental group that is fighting the climate crisis everyday, so their membership numbers swell and their voice has more power.
  7. E-mail relevant articles to your friends and family to get them up to speed about global warming.
  8. Write to your local council to ask for environmentally minded services such as recycling collection. If they write back with a negative reply, give the letter to your local paper.
  9. Educate yourself, you family, your friends, your co-workers and everyone you meet. Our culture is just waking up to issues that have existed for years. The more people are aware of the issues the more likely they are to make decisions that will be constructive!


  • Before turning on any electrical, oil or gas-powered machine, think: "Is there another way to do this task?" Be creative!
  • To better keep track of your greenhouse gas emissions use a greenhouse gas calculator.
  • Go Home-made. In need of a gift? Make one using stuff you don't use anymore, that way you don't have to throw it out, thus wasting what you could save.
    • You could also calculate your "Footprint". This is often calculated in acres. Try to reduce your "footprint" as much as possible, as it is good for the environment. You can do this on several websites, including this one. In addition to calculating your footprint, you can learn more about Global Warming, climate change, and "going green".
  • Encourage architects and builders to use more natural resources when building houses, e.g. solar energy to heat water.
  • Get a home energy audit. Many utilities offer free audits, which may reveal simple ways to cut emissions.
  • Explore ways to reduce energy consumption at home, work and at travel. Reducing energy usage, lowering cost, saving money


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