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  • Writer's pictureJessica Day

10 Quick and Easy Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Updated: Jul 18, 2018

Quick and Easy Things to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Quick and Easy Things to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

In Albany, the top sources of carbon dioxide pollution are from gasoline and diesel fuel for personal driving and natural gas for heating uses such as furnace heating, water heating, and clothes drying. Thus anything you can do to either reduce your amount of personal driving or your home’s heating demands will reduce your carbon footprint and help the city meet its climate goals. But here are ten quick and easy ways that you can make a difference starting today!

  1. Re-affirm that reducing your carbon footprint is a worthwhile endeavor and that your sustained actions can make a difference. Your actions and those of like-minded neighbors can help Albany sharply reduces its overall carbon pollution and make Albany a model for other towns in California and the rest of the US.

  2. Shop locally and if possible, walk-to-shop. We are fortunate to have Solano Avenue shops and the El Cerrito Plaza nearby and have many grocery stores within walking distance, including the new Sprouts in University Village. Consider walking to pick up your groceries or getting a laundry cart to roll your groceries home.

  3. You can reduce your personal driving miles in many ways: by “trip-planning” and consolidating your routes and errands to reduce the number of trips in your car; by taking public transit more frequently; and by using alternative and healthier modes of transport such as walking and biking. If you are in the market for a new vehicle, consider purchasing a zero emission vehicle or much more fuel-efficient vehicle.

  4. Set a goal to reduce the annual number of airline flights you take e.g., if you are a frequent business traveler, reduce the number of your discretionary business trips.

  5. Reduce your natural gas heating fuel use: In the winter heating season, program your thermostat to reduce the temperature set points at night and during the day when you are out of the house. Or get a programmable thermostat if you do not have one. More information on smart thermostats and rebate opportunities are at this site.

  6. Reduce your natural gas heating fuel use by using less hot water: take shorter showers and install a low flow shower head; run shorter or less intense dishwasher cycles; use cold wash/cold rinse clothes washing cycles more often; and/or try to line dry your clothes in warm weather. If you are replacing your heating appliances, consider a heat pump water heater or an air source heat pump for home heating instead of a natural gas water heater or furnace. (Heat pump appliances are powered by electricity and not natural gas and thus have a much lower carbon footprint).

  7. Reduce your overall consumption of goods and food, starting with red meat consumption. Beef in particular has a high very high carbon and resource footprint. Check out the Goodwill Store on San Pablo for high-quality used clothing and housewares at very low prices. Consider Meatless Mondays, Transit Tuesdays, Walking Wednesdays, Thrifty Thursdays, Fix-it Fridays – have fun and be creative!

  8. Enroll in the 100% Renewable Electricity option in the new East Bay Clean Energy Community Choice Aggregation Program. This will encourage the greater development of local renewable electricity sources in Alameda County for only a few dollars a month.

  9. Reduce your electricity consumption. You can purchase and install “smart power strips” to reduce the electricity consumption of appliances and electronics which are turned off but still drawing power in standby mode. Smart power strips are inexpensive and will automatically shut down power to products that go into standby mode. Also, install LED bulbs or overhead LED “can lighting” wherever possible.

  10. Note that every 6 months all PG&E utility customers receive a California Climate Credit which is typically between $25 and $40 every 6 months. Use this extra $50-80 per year bill credit to buy super energy efficient LED light bulbs and smart power strips.

You can learn more about carbon footprints and energy savings opportunities, for example at Cool California and on PGE's Energy Saving Tips.

How about you? How are you finding quick and easy ways to make a difference?

This article is a guest post by Max Wei. Max is a Program Manager III for the Energy Analysis and Environmental Impacts Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and he is a member of the City of Albany Sustainability Committee.

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