How You Can Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Smoke and Coal plant smokestacks
Martyn Goddard / Getty Images
of 08

Pro Tips to Lower Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Mick Wiggins/Ikon Images/Getty

Global warming is due to the increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. To know where to focus our efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we need to understand where they come from. The top greenhouse gas emitting sector in the United States is electricity production, with 32% of the total emissions. Mostly responsible are coal, and increasingly, natural gas fired plants. Next follows transportation, with 28%, industrial processes (20%), commercial and residential heating (10%), and agriculture (10%).

So, what are some concrete steps we can take to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions?

of 08

Conserve Energy: Use Less Electricity

Fans can handle a lot of the cooling duties in summer. Bob Thomas/E+/Getty

Choose appliances with low energy needs. Turn off computers, monitors, and printers at night. Unplug phone chargers when they are not in use. Use low-watt LED lights when replacing old incandescent or compact fluorescent lightbulbs. When you leave a room, turn off the lights.

Pro Tip: In hot weather, keep cool with fans instead of air conditioning. 

of 08

Conserve Energy: Use Less Electricity (II)

Save your laundry chores for sunny days, and dry your clothes outside. Marisa Romero/EyeM/Getty

Carefully think about the use of your high-energy appliances. Do you really need that extra refrigerator in the basement? How about the water heater for the pool? Another serious offender: the electric dryer. 

Pro Tip: Instead of using a dryer, hang your clothes outside. Even in cold weather, your laundry will dry.

of 08

Conserve Energy: Use Less Fuels for Heating

A programmable thermostat help reduce energy use for heating. George Peters/E+/Getty

If your heat comes from any of the fossil fuels (and the same goes for those heating with electricity), keep thermostats lower at night, in unoccupied rooms, and when you are out of the house during the day. Have an energy audit conducted at your home, it will tell you where your house is loosing heat. Remedy the situation by properly caulking doors and windows and by insulating the attic, for example.

Pro Tip: Use a programmable thermostat which allows you to preset temperatures for different time periods. 

of 08

Make Good Transportation Choices: Drive Smart

Combining errands to one trip a week cuts down on vehicle use. UpperCut Images

Keep your vehicle well maintained, and pay special attention to engine efficiency and to the emission systems. Keep your car tires properly inflated. Gentle acceleration, smooth driving, and staying at or below the speed limit will reduce emissions. If you must replace your vehicle, select a model that is fuel-efficient. Take advantage of car-pooling opportunities.

Pro Tip: Consolidate errands into one weekly trip.

of 08

Make Good Transportation Choices: Drive Less

David Palmer/E+/Getty

If possible, work from home. An increasing number of companies allow employees to work from home one, two or more days a week. Use public transportation. Consider using a car share program for weekend trips, instead of owning one.

Pro Tip: Commute to work by walking or riding a bike instead of driving your car.

of 08

Make Good Food Choices: The Right Fruit and Vegetables

With canning, you can enjoy your local harvest all year long. Ron Bailey/E+/Getty

Choose fruit and vegetables grown locally, and those that are in season. This way you can avoid much of the environmental costs associated with long-distance transport, plus you can actually go see how your food is grown. Choose a farmer that you trust, and join their Community Supported Agriculture program to get your produce directly from the farm. 

Pro Tip: Can, dry, or freeze produce that is available (and cheap) in season, and continue enjoying it the rest of the year. 

of 08

Make Good Food Choices: The Right Dairy and Meats

Jan Scherders/Blend Imahes/Getty

Purchase eggs, dairy, and meat from a responsible, preferably local producer. Eat less meat. When you do eat animal protein, choose pastured meats over grain-fed meats. Support environmentally responsible growers.

Pro Tip: Know your farmers, and how they grow your food.