There are nearly 8 billion people in the world, and each individual leaves behind an energy footprint. Our energy footprint is part of our carbon footprint, and electricity, gas and water usage all affect our carbon footprint. Lowering energy use, therefore, can decrease our environmental impact.
If everyone makes small changes to lower our energy consumption, we could make a huge impact. While children might have a smaller carbon footprint, they still leave tracks behind.
Here’s how to decrease your family’s energy footprint and leave fewer tracks on our world.
Measuring Your Energy Footprint
There isn’t a single tool that can measure your energy footprint. However, the U.S. Department of Energy has created a tool for commercial facilities to track their energy footprints. For household purposes, use the Environmental Protection Agency’s Carbon Footprint Calculator, which gives you a broader look at how your family’s habits affect the environment.
This calculator takes energy use as a measurement of your overall footprint. The tool will prompt you to enter your monthly utility costs; this information will then give you an estimation of the pounds of carbon dioxide that these energy sources contribute on your behalf. A monthly electricity bill of $140, for example, represents an emission of more than 25,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. If you have a really high electricity bill, you likely have an equally high amount of CO2 emissions.
Understanding this figure then leads to a cost-savings plan. The tool lets you see how little changes in your energy consumption can help decrease your CO2 emissions and your carbon footprint. The tool reveals that turning up your thermostat by two degrees during the hot summer months lowers your bill and also represents a more than 400 pound decrease of CO2.
How Can Children Decrease Their Footprints?
The calculator provides numerous environmental savings suggestions like choosing Energy Star lighting, washing clothes on cold and skipping the dryer. However, these are all adult-oriented changes. Of course, parents should embrace as many energy-savings options as possible, because every change means less CO2.
Kids need to understand, though, that they can make a difference at a young age. Here’s how to help kids learn to leave a smaller energy and carbon footprint:
- Set up a family recycling center and teach kids to recycle plastic, aluminum, paper and glass. Every item that’s recycled helps lower our carbon footprint.
- Make sure children turn off the water when washing hands or brushing teeth.
- Remind children to turn off all lights after they leave a room.
- Get in the habit of unplugging all chargers when they aren’t in use.
- Open up the curtains to use natural light instead of flipping on a lamp or other electric light source.
- Walk or take a bike ride with parents (instead of going for a drive!)
- Use a refillable water bottle—don’t buy disposable bottles!
Other Ways to Embrace the Green Life
While saving energy can lower our carbon footprints, other positive changes can, too. As a family, plant a tree or start a garden. All greenery helps reduce carbon dioxide while infusing our environment with oxygen. If you plant a garden, you may decide to cultivate fruits or vegetables. Harvesting your own produce can make you less dependent while also helping the planet.
Your family also can make a compost pile. Not only does compost enrich the soil, but it also keeps biodegradable waste out of landfills.
Make a Family ‘Green Pact’
Make a ‘Green Pact’ as a family and create a list of ways that your household plans to help lower energy costs and decrease your family’s carbon footprint. Your plan can be as simple or as comprehensive as you want. Every positive change you make together can help the environment.
To seal your ‘Green Pact,’ type up your plan and hang it somewhere visible. This helps you stay accountable and keeps the plan in front of everyone. Once you’ve outlined your green initiatives, put your words to work.
If you want to begin a home recycling program, go to the store and buy colorful bins. Let kids label and decorate the bins so everyone knows what color corresponds with which material.
Check with your municipality to find out what recycling services are available. Not every area may provide comprehensive recycling services. You may need to investigate your options.
Take a Selfie…A HomeSelfe
Understanding your home’s energy use can be as simple as taking a home selfie! Download the app HomeSelfe to help find out ‘watts up’ with your energy consumption. HomeSelfe will prompt you to take a photo of each room in order to better understand your home’s unique layout. The app will give you tips on how to further decrease your energy use and can even help your family find money-saving rebates.
Every person in your household can help improve the energy efficiency of your home and help decrease your family’s carbon—and energy—footprint. There are so many small changes that can make a difference on carbon dioxide emissions. Create a Green Plan today and start leaving less of an imprint on our environment!