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We all strive to live a sustainable life, but sometimes we are not aware that we have the resources to reduce our carbon footprint at our fingertips. In this article, Ask Dr. Ben , partnered with Emma Croft, shows you how to use everyday technology to lead a greener, more sustainable life. These tips are easy to implement and will significantly reduce your environmental impact while saving you money in the long run.
Digitize Paper Records as PDF Files
Going digital is an efficient way to get rid of paper clutter and store important information electronically. Converting paper records to PDF files not only saves physical storage space, but it also makes document searches quick and easy. However, large PDF files can take up a lot of storage space on your computer or in the cloud. In such cases, trying a PDF compressor can be helpful as it reduces the size of the files without compromising their quality. This makes it easier to store, transfer and access your digitized documents whenever you want.
Install a Smart Thermostat
Installing a smart thermostat is an excellent way to keep your house comfortable and save energy. Not only will it allow you to control your home's temperature precisely, but it can also learn your schedule and preferences to optimize energy usage. The smart thermostat will adjust the temperature automatically based on the time of day, the weather, and your routine, saving you money on your electric bill and helping the environment.
Brighten Up Your Home and Save Money with LED Bulbs
If you're looking for a way to brighten up your home while saving money, LED bulbs may be the answer. These energy-efficient bulbs use significantly less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, which can translate into significant savings on your energy bills over time. Plus, with a longer lifespan than traditional bulbs, you'll have to replace them less frequently, reducing waste and further adding to your savings. By way of comparison, LED bulbs last around 20 years (compared to 5 years for fluorescent bulbs) and consume about 15% of the power of a comparable incandescent (compared to 25% for CFLs). This means LED bulbs make just as much financial sense as environmental sense. They cost a little more up front but quickly pay for themselves via your electric bill.
Invest in Solar Panels to Lower Your Energy Bills
Investing in solar panels could lower your power bills significantly. While the upfront installation cost is high, you will eventually save on energy costs, and the system will eventually pay for itself. Besides, installing solar panels is an environmentally friendly way to power your home without relying on fossil fuels. Even now, one does need to be careful in considering solar panels for the home from a financial point of view. If you live on the west coast, it’s likely to be a slam dunk in terms of the payoff. But if you live in a part of the country where your electric costs are still running around 11 cents per kilowatt hour, and you maybe don’t get as much sunlight over the year, you very likely will not make your money back unless you’re getting a big break via government subsidy (tax or otherwise). Part of the problem that most people overlook is that solar panels only last 20-25 years and DO require professional inspection and maintenance. Photovoltaics, the supporting inverter electronics and battery systems all come at significant financial and environmental costs. Do the math for your situation, and make sure you buy from a reputable installer.
If You Must Own a Car, Get a Hybrid
If you live in the US suburbs like me, you simply must have a car. If only to ensure that you get to work on time every morning. Highway vehicles release about 1.5 billion tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere each year. That’s 27% of US emissions. At first glance, you might think that electric cars are the obvious solution, but other factors have to be taken into account. 60.2% of generated electricity is from fossil fuels, one third of that is from coal. Purely electric vehicles also require a great deal of rare earth metals and other environmentally deleterious materials. Hybrids leverage 100+ years of automotive technology and optimization of the internal combustion engine, and marry that efficiency with battery and electric motor technology. At least for now, that marriage of old and new tech, in the appropriate proportions still leads to the most environmentally friendly car option. As with photovoltaics, there will come a day when the new tech is clearly better, but for now we still need to make savvy choices as consumers.
Upgrade Your Appliances and Make a Sustainable Impact
It's time to say goodbye to your old, unreliable appliances and hello to a sustainable future. By upgrading to energy-efficient models, you can make a positive impact on the environment while also saving money on your utility bills. Not only do these appliances benefit the planet, but they also improve your lifestyle by providing more efficient and effective use of resources. Obviously, be careful about throwing away a perfectly good appliance for one that’s perhaps 10% better in terms of efficiency. Forging the metal, and fabricating a new unit takes a lot of up-front energy as well. But if it’s time for a change anyway, make the smart choice.
Some upgrades can improve your environment inside your home as well. Adding a range hood to your kitchen, for example, is one such idea. A range hood helps capture particulate matter generated by cooking, such as oils. This leaves your air cleaner, helping you breathe easier.
Use Green DIY Cleaners
Switching to DIY cleaners for your home has numerous environmental benefits. For one, homemade cleaners often use natural ingredients, reducing the amount of harmful chemicals that end up in our waterways. These products also tend to be less damaging to the environment as they do not contain phosphates or nitrates, which are common in conventional cleaning products and can contribute to water pollution. Additionally, by making your own cleaners, you reduce the need for plastic packaging, thus cutting down on waste. Lastly, DIY cleaners can be more cost-effective and just as efficient, if not more so, than traditional cleaning products.
Downsize Your Living Space
Downsizing from a home to a more eco-friendly apartment can be a significant step towards a sustainable lifestyle. Smaller spaces are typically more energy-efficient, reducing your carbon footprint and often leading to lower utility bills. Many eco-friendly apartments also incorporate features like energy-efficient appliances, solar power, water-saving fixtures, and green building materials, further enhancing their environmental benefits. This transition not only supports the environment but can also simplify your life, reducing maintenance responsibilities and often placing you closer to city amenities. Explore your options online if downsizing appeals to you.
Adopt Eco-Friendly Business Ideas
As people become increasingly environmentally conscious, adopting eco-friendly practices as a business owner can be a major selling point for potential customers. Not only does it demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and reducing carbon footprint, but it also shows that your business cares about the impact it has on the environment. From using recycled materials in packaging to implementing energy-saving measures in the workplace, there are many ways to make eco-friendly changes that appeal to customers.
By utilizing everyday technology, we can make a significant impact on the environment and save money at the same time. From DIY cleaners to investing in solar panels, there are numerous ways that we can lead a greener and more sustainable life. If you're a business owner, adopting eco-friendly business ideas will also appeal to customers who are increasingly environmentally conscious. These small changes can lead to significant results and help us all move towards a cleaner, greener future.
Understand the Big Picture
Finally, if you do want to help make large, political changes then here is my video on the benefits of nuclear power and how it’s likely our only way out in spite of the few incidents we’ve all heard about in the media. Make sure you understand what’s at stake from both sides of this debate and then talk to your representatives.
It seems like in the 50’s and 60’s, “gee whiz” science and technology books and shows abounded. Now, it seems like it’s become trite to most people, old and young. I’d like to reverse that trend in whatever way I can. Technical skills matter. Zeal for science and general understanding of the universe matter. If we lose sight of that as a society, then WE will fail to matter.