According to the EPA’s Household Carbon Footprint Report, Amanda and I generate about 10,000 lbs of CO2 emissions per year between our home energy, transportation and waste.
We have taken some steps to green our home and lifestyle by lowering the waste-, water- and carbon- footprints and I suspect it has reduced our annual CO2 emissions by about 6,100 lbs*.
- Renewable electricity supplier
- Avoiding automobiles
- Water saving toilet
- Water saving shower heard
- EnergyStar windows
- EnergyStar fridge
- EnergyStart furnace
- LED lights
It’s hard to determine the individual impact of the changes, but each step helps.
Perhaps the single most impactful change was switching to a 100% renewable energy supplier, since much of our electricity comes from burning natural gas. It costs about 10% more. I’m ashamed to admit that I was convinced to switch at one of those cheeky mall kiosks. Our LED lights use around 1/10th as much electricity as the halogens we replaced, and they last longer. In our case, we save around $250 per year, since we replaced 8x indoor floodlights.
2,800 pounds CO2 saved
Our water-saving toilet is great. It has 2 flush settings, both of which work better than my parent’s full flush toilets, while using remarkably less water. The same can be said for our water-saving shower head, which I actually prefer over our previous shower head. Reducing water consumption reduces our footprint at wastewater treatment facilities. Our EnergyStar windows and furnace save a good amount by reducing the amount of heating our home requires.
1,500 pounds CO2 saved
We avoid automobiles when possible and instead prefer to walk to errands and take public transportation to Downtown. We have a car and in the future we’d like a get a hybrid, or ideally an EV. For now I often get around on my electric skateboard. We still fly occasionally.
1,000 pounds CO2 saved
Recycling and composting avoid waste disposal, which results in about 6% of Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions. We strive curb uncontaminated recycling that is free of prohibited materials like plastic bags, food and “tanglers,” which reduces the amount that must be disposed of. We participate in Boston’s “Project Oscar” for composting, making use of some great compostable bags and the convenient drop-off near the subway station. We donate used clothes and make rags out of what we can’t donate. Reusing also avoids waste disposal, which we do primarily in the form of reusable bags for everything, but also getting almost all our home furnishings on Craigslist and many of our clothes on eBay(/similar.)
800 pounds CO2 saved
Above all else, reducing consumption is our preferred way of lowering our footprint. We have a small home, we turn down the thermostat, we avoid automobile trips and we avoid unnecessary stuff.
Among the steps we haven’t been able to take are switching to a hybrid heat-pump water heater, a mini-split heat pump HVAC system, a hybrid/electric car and limiting our air travel. All of those would lower our footprint significantly, but they are costly or impractical.
*Note: I use 1 lb/mi driven, 1 lb/kwh from natural gas, 10 lb/therm natural gas and 50 lb/mi flown.