5 Winter Energy-Efficiency Tips for All of Us A few simple steps go a long way toward reducing our collective carbon footprint
Climate change is a very real threat today. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report reveals that the world is on a dangerous path, with the effects of climate change already becoming more widespread. An infographic published by the World Resources Institute, states, “Without significant emissions reductions, global temperatures could rise well above 4°C from pre-industrial levels, exposing communities around the world to crippling sea level rise, water shortages, ecosystem degradation, and other impacts.”
In these times, being energy-efficient and doing your part to maintain our environment is more important than ever. Here, we will look at a few simple actions we all can take, whether at home or in the office, to conserve energy and minimize excess energy use.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Heating accounts for the most energy use during winter. The U.S. Department of Energy states that “Space heating is the largest energy expense in the average U.S. home, accounting for about 45 percent of energy bills.”
During the winter, one of the easiest ways to save energy and money on heating is to update your HVAC system and manage temperature via a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat gives you the ability to control your temperature settings for different time periods during the day. As stated by experts at Direct Energy, “Remembering to adjust your thermostat daily can be a challenge. A programmable or smart thermostat lets you set your schedule and forget about it!”
The latest programmable thermostats can be controlled from anywhere, usually with a smartphone app. So for instance, rather than keeping the heat on all day so that your house is warm and toasty for when you come home from work, you could program the thermostat to automatically turn on half an hour before you return, consuming much less energy with the same result. Switching to a programmable thermostat will not only make you a more responsible consumer, but The Department of Energy calculates that these thermostats could save you about 10 percent on your energy bills every year.
Use LED lighting
It’s a well-known fact that wintertime brings short, dark days, with sunlight hours reduced to a minimum. Using a light-emitting diode, commonly known as an LED light, is a great way to ensure that your space is brightly lit, without using up too much electricity. LED lights are an energy-efficient solution for all sorts of spaces, whether you’re at work or home, and they can contribute to major savings in terms of both energy and money.
As opposed to traditional incandescent lighting, LEDs can emit light in a particular direction. This eliminates the need for reflectors and diffusers, making LEDs much more efficient than traditional lighting where light must be reflected to a desired direction, and where a majority of the light may never even leave the fixture. Additionally, LEDs produce very little heat in comparison to that release 90 percent of their energy as heat. The Department of Energy states that LED lighting can potentially revolutionize the future of lighting in the U.S., with residential LEDs (especially ENERGY STAR rated products) said to “use 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.”
One of the most adaptable ways to be energy-efficient at the workplace is to choose to go paperless. Consider using a whiteboard or blackboard to take notes instead of using a notebook, and utilize digital applications and online communications rather than resorting to printing unless absolutely necessary. During lunch and break times, avoid paper towels and bring your own reusable cloth napkins from home. Even these small actions can make a difference when it comes to safeguarding our forests.
Today, forests are being depleted at the alarming rate of 4281 acres per hour. According to an article by Global Good Magazine, “Going paperless will reduce CO2 emissions, which means a better environment for us and future generations.” While the obvious benefit of going paperless is combating deforestation and saving the trees, there are supplemental advantages that come with decreasing paper usage too.
For instance, shifting from paper records to digital storage can minimize supply costs by reducing the need for stationary, printer ink, office supplies, and even file cabinets and other office furniture. Additionally, an article on Forbes lists other benefits of going paperless including cleaning up clutter, having everything available at one’s fingertips, and the ability to effectively transfer knowledge amongst employees boosting teamwork and collaboration.
Every working American spends approximately 47 hours per year commuting through traffic. Due to this, traffic accounts for 3.7 billion hours and 23 billion gallons of gas wasted each year. Choosing to drive green is an easy way to save time, money, and most of all, reduce the emissions resulting from our dependency on gas.
To reduce the stress on the environment, consider carpooling, using a bicycle, or using public transport options. If you are in the position to do so, consider walking to work and back. Not only does this help the environment, but walking is also a great form of exercise and can be especially helpful during the winter time to get in some much-needed sunlight. If your employer allows it, you could also telecommute. Working remotely negates the need to commute to work altogether, and it can make a significant difference when it comes to cutting down emissions related to traffic and transportation.
Follow the Principles of Sustainability
Following basic sustainability principles in your everyday life goes without saying, but it is especially important to incorporate sustainability into your corporate vision too. Not only does responsible corporate policy help curb excess emissions, but it also appeals to the next generation of consumers looking to support companies & brands trying to make a difference.
Experts at Appnovation state that “Connecting your brand to a social cause reveals its human nature.” They draw upon the examples of Stella McCartney and her dedication to source materials responsibly and ethically, as well as Starbucks striving to serve 100 percent ethically sourced coffee. Abiding by the basic principles of sustainability in the everyday workings of a company can appeal to sustainably-minded audiences, and positively impact the bottom line.
This winter, use these five tips to do your part and become a more responsible consumer. Energy efficiency is the key to safeguarding our environment from future destruction.