A carbon footprint. We’ve all heard the phrase and how we should be more conscious of it, but what does it actually mean to have a carbon footprint? According to timeforchange.org, a carbon footprint has been historically defined as the total amount of greenhouse gases produced by an individual, event, organization, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent. In other words, when you drive a car, heat your home, charge your phone or even purchase items from the grocery store, you are generating CO2, which ultimately affects the planet.
While walking to and from work or buying an electric car might not be realistic for your lifestyle or budget, it’s important to acknowledge how harmful wasting energy is on both the environment and your wallet. One place that you can easily start, is right at home. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your usage, lower your energy bill and make your home more suitable to our frigid Canadian climate.
Give Up Fast Fashion
Many major retailers practice what is known as “fast fashion”, which essentially means selling an endless cycle of those must-have trends at an extremely low price. Whether it’s a new style of sweater, or an end table, as consumers, we often see design or fashion as disposable and something that is constantly changing.
Rather than updating your living room with brand new items to reflect the latest trends, try repurposing or refurbishing what you already have, or even looking for items at a thrift store.
Unplug Rarely-used Devices
The Government of Canada recommends reducing your standby power consumption. From pulling the plug on the toaster oven to your electronic devices on “sleep” mode, unplugging these devices can help account for a five to 10 percent cut down on your electricity bill.
Follow the Energy Star
Does your home have ENERGY-STAR certified windows and doors? How about appliances? Aging windows and doors are susceptible to air leaks and drafts. This means your air conditioner or heater—depending on the season—has to work twice as hard to do its job. New energy-efficient windows and doors keep your home insulated. By trapping heat in the during the winter and blocking out UV rays during the summer, your cooling and heating units won’t have to work as hard. This will make for a lower energy bill and a more comfortable home year-round. Keep an eye out for the ENERGY STAR label on your home appliances as well. Energy-efficient toilets, sinks, fridges, stoves, washers and dryers, can help reduce your water and electricity bills.
Take the DIY Approach
In addition to purchasing energy-efficient products, there are a number of affordable ways to make your home more cost and energy effective. Such as purchasing a programmable thermostat to ensure your heating or air conditioning isn’t running while you aren’t home. Insulating your home with the proper caulking and weather stripping is an excellent way to reduce air entering or escaping through leaks and cracks. As well, using compact fluorescent light bulbs to lower your electricity costs is another affordable solution.
Be Conscious of Your Actions
Last, but not least – be aware of how your day-to-day habits affect the earth. One of the simplest ways to start making a significant change in your home is to take matters into your own hands. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Don’t take excessively long showers or leave the tap running. Try running your thermostat a few degrees warmer in the summer and a few degrees cooler in the winter. You might not even notice the difference, but you will certainly see it on your monthly utility bill.
Whether you’re overhauling your entire home with renovations, building a brand-new house, or just looking to make a few small changes, consider making energy-efficient upgrades. Not only will it help lower your bills and overall consumption, updates as such can really add value to your home.
To learn more about reducing your home’s carbon footprint with ENERGY STAR-approved windows and doors, visit our energy efficiency guide.