Learning Center

Find the answers to your home improvement questions.

Top 20 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home

While installing solar panels and buying energy-efficient appliances are great for reducing your carbon footprint, they’re also expensive. Luckily, there are easier and cheaper ways of minimizing your impact on the environment.

1. Hang Laundry to Dry

Clothes hanging outside

Image via Flickr by Peter Blanchard

If you hang your laundry to dry instead of using your dryer, your eco-friendly home can save around $20 every month and greatly reduce your emission of greenhouse gases. If you don’t want to hang clothing outside, a drying rack is an inexpensive option.

2. Run a Full Dishwasher

Make sure you have a full dishwasher before you run it. If you have an ENERGY STAR dishwasher, you can save even more water and money. An ENERGY STAR dishwasher can trim your utility bills by more than $40 a year and save around 5,000 gallons of water a year, when compared to hand washing.

3. Place a Brick in Your Toilet Tank

It sounds strange, but placing a brick in your toilet tank can actually displace about half the water in the tank, which equals a water savings of up to two gallons for each person every day. However, clay bricks aren’t the best for your plumbing. Instead, put a brick in a waterproof bag to save water and protect your pipes. You might also consider using a heavy rock.

4. Walk or Ride a Bike

Man riding a bike on a country road

Image via Flickr by Jamie McCaffrey

If you need to leave your house and your destination is less than a mile away, consider walking or riding a bike there instead. You’ll greatly reduce emissions from your car and it will help you stay in shape, too.

5. Replace Your Light bulbs

Ecological light bulb

Image via Flickr by mattwalker

Simply switching out your regular light bulbs for a CFL bulb can cut around 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution during the lifetime of the bulb. If every household in the United States switched to CFL bulbs, we could lower the amount of electricity spent on lighting by half.

6. Don’t Use Your Garbage Disposal

It takes water and energy to run food scraps down the garbage disposal. Instead, keep a bucket next to your sink to help create a compost pile. Since compost is rich in nutrients, you can use it once it decomposes to fertilize your garden.

7. Stop Junk Mail

Mail box with "No Junk Mail" sign

Image via Flickr by Jocey K

The average adult gets around 41 pounds of junk mail every year. This unwanted mail is a waste of trees and water. Contact the companies directly and ask them to take you off their mailing lists, or sign up for a nonprofit service that contacts direct mailers and gets your name off their lists.

8. Reset the Thermostat

In the winter, setting your thermostat back 15 degrees for eight hours when you’re at work for the day can save you up to 15 percent on your yearly heating bill. Similarly, in the summer, turning off your AC while you’re away will also save you money in energy bills

9. Turn Off Your Lights

Get into the habit of turning off your lights when you leave a room. Likewise, turn off computers, televisions, and radios when you’re not using them. If you’re not using these devices for a long time, unplug them to keep them from using electricity even when they’re off.

10. Turn Off the Water

Water coming out of a faucet

Image via Flickr by Joe Shlabotnik

Turn off the water when you’re brushing your teeth or shaving. Letting perfectly clean water run down the drain while you’re completing these tasks wastes water and money.

11. Shop Local

Pineapples at a farmers' market

Image via Flickr by oldandsolo

Instead of driving to the grocery store to buy fruits and vegetables that are shipped in, head over to your local farmers’ market and buy produce that’s locally grown. Not only will you help your local economy, but you’ll also cut down on carbon emissions from the vehicles used to transport produce from all over the country.

12. Clean Your Plate

Mom always said to finish your food. Every year, about one-quarter of all the food made in the United States is thrown away. This increases carbon emissions from transporting it to the landfill and increases methane gases when it rots there. Follow Mom’s advice to clean your plate and you’ll be helping save the environment.

13. Stop Buying Bottled Water

Water splashing in a mug

Image via Flickr by Yashna M

Bottled water leaves behind a massive ecological footprint. There’s an environmental toll caused by the initial creation of the plastic for the bottle, the transportation of the water to the store, and when the bottles sit in landfills instead of being recycled. To lower your footprint, buy a filtration pitcher and filter your tap water.

14. Take a Shower

Outdoor shower

Image via Flickr by wiennat

While leisurely soaks in the bathtub are nice, they’re also a waste of water. Showers usually take one-fifth of the energy required to run a bath. You can save even more energy and water by installing a low-flow shower head.

15. Plant Some Bamboo

Bamboo brances hanging in the sky

Image via Flickr by pfly

Not only does bamboo grow incredibly fast, but it also sucks up four times more carbon dioxide than other trees. If you need a privacy fence or windbreak in your yard and you live in a favorable climate, consider planting bamboo.

16. Use Your Curtains

Curtains hanging on a bright day

Image via Flickr by Diego3336

When it’s not cold outside, open your curtains to use natural sunlight instead of lamps. In the winter, open the curtains on your south-facing windows to let the sun naturally heat your home. Then close them when the sun sets to lock in that heat.

17. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water

Thermometer reading 19 degrees Celsius

Image via Flickr by trekkyandy

Nearly 75 percent of the energy you need to do one load of laundry goes toward heating the water. Switching to cold water will help you save money and also help keep your clothes looking like new. Using cold water also reduces the likelihood of shrinking clothes in the washer.

18. Use the Top Shelf of Your Oven

S'more cookies baking in the oven

Image via Flickr by how lucky we are

For faster and more energy-efficient baking, put your food on the top shelf of the oven. The bottom heating element doesn’t stay on after preheating so food actually cooks faster on the top half because heat rises.

19. Switch to White Trash Bags

The pigment in black trash bags isn’t biodegradable, so you can’t recycle them and they will never break down in the landfill. Simply switch to white trash bags to help reduce your ecological footprint.

20. Switch to a Laptop

Laptop with a leafy wallpaper

Image via Flickr by Sir Stig

Not only are laptops smaller and more portable, they also use up to 80 percent less energy than a desktop.

Reducing your ecological footprint at home doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Many of these tips simply require a small change in your habits. However, they can have a big impact on waste and consumption.

Tell us about your own eco-friendly tips and tricks in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You can use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.