How to reduce your carbon footprint at home

4 min read
Greenhouse gas emissions

Have you ever felt like reducing your own greenhouse gas emissions is too big of a challenge to tackle? We know it can be hard to make big changes to your lifestyle or habits. But there are things you can do around your own home to reduce your carbon footprint.

Almost all forms of energy emit greenhouse gas emissions. That means saving energy ties directly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. How do we know?

Since 2000, the investments that Vermonters have made in energy efficiency – saving electricity and heating fuels – will avoid over 12 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That probably just seems like big number, so let’s put it another way. Avoiding over 12 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions is like taking all of Vermont’s cars off the road for over four and a half years.

It is hard to feel like you, personally, can have an impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But those emission reductions were made up of hundreds and thousands of individual actions from Vermont businesses and homeowners alike. What do these actions look like? We’ve got a list of some tried-and-true methods of reducing your carbon footprint. Even better: many of these actions will also save you money on your energy bills.

Change out your lightbulbs

We know, you’ve heard this one. Honestly, we’re ready to stop talking about it too. The thing is, it’s still an effective and low-cost way to reduce your electric use. ENERGY STAR® LEDs are far more efficient than other lights, and they last longer. You could also consider smart lighting to have more control and avoid leaving lights on when they’re not necessary.

Get smarter - with your thermostat, that is

Heating is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont. Most Vermonters still primarily heat with fossil fuels that emit carbon dioxide, like fuel oil, propane, or natural gas. Any time you use less heat, you’re also emitting less. Programmable thermostats can be set to turn down automatically based on your daily schedule. Smart thermostats go one step further to learn and adjust based on your habits, the weather, and your preferences.

Look for the ENERGY STAR logo

When you’re replacing an appliance, choose an ENERGY STAR certified appliance, or look for the Efficiency Vermont Smart Choice label in stores. These products have been tested to ensure they meet high standards for energy efficiency. The more efficient, the more savings in your pocket, and the fewer emissions in the atmosphere.

Compare efficient appliances on the Efficiency Vermont Marketplace.

Choose a cleaner, quieter model

Ever wish you didn’t have to inhale gasoline fumes while you’re mowing the lawn? Electric lawn mowers are battery operated and don’t rely on any liquid fuel (many of them even run with the same battery pack as your cordless drill or other power tools). Electric mowers are often lighter and quieter than their gas-fired alternatives. Going electric for your lawn will help you remove another source of emissions from your routine. Your local electric utility may also have rebates to help offset the upfront cost of a new mower.

Up your home efficiency

Weatherization means sealing up air leaks throughout your house and adding insulation to keep warm air in and cold air out (and the reverse in the summer). Weatherization can help you spend less money on heating, keep you more comfortable, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, weatherization is one of the most cost effective tools we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont.

Step into a new heating system

Once you’ve weatherized, you might consider a non-fossil fuel heating system to help you reduce your emissions even more. Efficient electric heat pumps and advanced wood heat systems can keep you toasty all winter long, save you money on your heating bills, and help reduce your carbon footprint. Because Vermont’s electricity generation today is more than 60% renewable, efficient electric systems result in far less emissions overall. These options can help reduce your use of a fossil fuel system or even replace your whole heating system, depending on what you choose.

Consider a hybrid or all-electric car

Driving vehicles powered by fossil fuel is the biggest source of emissions for Vermonters. Because we’re a rural state, many Vermonters rely on a car to get to work, run errands, or see family. Switching out your gas vehicle for an electric car can make a big impact on your own emissions. Electric cars are much more efficient than gas cars. As electricity becomes increasingly renewable, electric cars are even better for your carbon footprint. The average electric car in Vermont gets the equivalent of 114 miles per gallon. That’s a big difference when it comes to climate change causing emissions. Any new car has a pretty big price tag, but incentives from your utility and the State of Vermont will help bring down the cost of a new electric car. And you’ll save on fuel and maintenance over time.