Actionable Environmental Impacts at Home: Swap common household devices to curb your carbon footprint
(Family Features) In every room of your home, you’ll likely find numerous devices, appliances and fixtures that rely on the electric grid for power. Collectively, they affect your carbon footprint more than you may realize. Converting to lower carbon alternatives can help you be a better steward for the environment while reducing your reliance on electricity.
“As a father, husband, home builder and real estate agent, I think it’s important to make smart choices for a cleaner today and greener tomorrow,” said Matt Blashaw, residential contractor, licensed real estate agent and host of HGTV’s “Build it Forward.” “We all want to be good stewards of the Earth. I want people to think beyond planting a tree or recycling. The time is right now to choose a diverse, low-carbon energy mix to power our homes and businesses.”
Consider these environmentally friendly upgrades from Blashaw and the experts at the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) to help decarbonize Earth:
Programmable thermostats and smart plugs don’t conserve electricity on their own, but they help you become more aware of your energy consumption and adapt your usage to avoid waste. The introduction of programmable thermostats made it possible to adjust the temperature in your home when you’re not there or when you are sleeping.
Some smart thermostats take those adjustments even further by learning your household habits and adjusting the temperature to accommodate your usage patterns. You can also make adjustments remotely, and some models allow you to control specific zones or rooms independently so you’re only using the energy you really need. When combined with low-carbon, efficient HVAC units, smart thermostats can help lessen the impact on the planet.
Like programmable thermostats and smart plugs, motion sensors help manage your energy usage. Motion sensors ensure you’re only drawing electricity to illuminate a space when it’s in use or when the light quality falls below a certain threshold. You may be in the habit of turning on a switch when you enter a room whether you need the extra light or not. Relying on a sensor reduces the waste associated with that routine and helps ensure lights are turned off when they may otherwise be forgotten in an empty room.
You may be surprised to learn the difference it can make to swap appliances for a different energy source. According to PERC, propane appliances are more efficient and produce fewer greenhouse gases than electric appliances. For example, propane-powered clothes dryers generate up to 42% fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to electric dryers. They also dry clothes faster than electric dryers, and the moist heat is gentler on fabrics and can even help relax wrinkles and static cling.
Similarly, propane-powered cooking ranges generate up to 15% fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to electric ranges while also allowing for greater control of heat levels. In addition, their instant flame turnoff capabilities help them cool faster than electric stoves, which can remain dangerously hot after they have been turned off.
Nearly one-third of energy loss in your home can be attributed to windows, especially if they’re older or in poor condition. Even windows in good condition can be a source of energy loss if there’s only one pane of glass or you have air leaks around the frame. Upgrading to double- or triple-pane windows can be costly but making more cost-efficient improvements like caulking and weatherstripping can reduce window-related energy loss. You can also rely on window treatments such as drapes or blinds, awnings or plant vegetation that provide shade to help manage how your windows contribute to your energy needs.
Tankless Water Heaters
Traditional water heaters maintain a tank of heated water at all times. Heating and re-heating the same water over and over is inefficient and wasteful. Conversely, tankless water heaters warm water only when you need it, cutting your energy usage and saving you money. Because it heats water whenever you need it, you don’t have to worry about running out of hot water. In addition, your water heater’s energy source can produce even greater savings. Switching from an electric storage water heater to a propane-fueled tankless water heater can prevent more than 1 ton of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere each year, the same amount produced from driving a car more than 3,000 miles, according to PERC.
You may think of ceiling fans as design elements and comfort features, but they also play a role in your home’s energy use. Moving air feels cooler than still air, so not only does the circulation keep the air feeling fresh, but you can also keep your room temperature higher and still feel cool and comfortable. Opting for a smart ceiling fan can help you maximize savings by scheduling the fan to align with your normal routines rather than wasting energy by circulating air when you’re not using the room.
Harnessing the sun’s energy is often viewed as the ultimate use of renewable energy, but it can be costly to install enough panels to adequately power an entire home. Many homeowners find success in offsetting their traditional energy consumption rather than replacing it completely. Implementing other measures, such as installing propane appliances or updating windows, can reduce the amount of energy needed from the solar panels, making it a more practical environmental option for your household.
“The more diverse America’s energy mix is, the more reliable it is,” Blashaw said. “Propane can work alongside renewable energy sources like on-site solar power to create a more efficient, clean and reliable energy mix for homes across the country and help accelerate decarbonization.”
Find more low-carbon solutions for your home at Propane.com.
Put Propane Power into Practice
As an approved clean alternative fuel under the Clean Air Act, propane is a low-carbon energy source that produces significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than diesel, gasoline and electricity in a wide range of applications. Because it reduces carbon emissions at home, at work, on the road and on the farm, propane can help Americans meet their environmental goals equitably and affordably. Consider these low-carbon facts from PERC for your family:
- Propane is a versatile alternative fuel being used in nearly 12 million U.S. households for residential uses like home heating, fireplaces, water heaters, cooktops and whole-home backup power.
- America’s farmers not only rely on propane to power their homes but trust it to operate their businesses too. Propane is used to irrigate fields, dry crops and heat buildings.
- Every day, 1.3 million children ride to school in 22,000 propane school buses across the country. Propane buses are currently in 1,000 school districts in 48 states.