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How to Live a Low-Carbon Lifestyle
Are you feeling pangs of guilt about your contribution to the growing climate crisis? Here are three easy, affordable things you can do to create your own Personal Kyoto Protocol. Follow even one of them and you'll be well on your way to a low-carbon lifestyle!
1) Replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents.
This is a no-brainer. Compact fluorescent light bulbs consume 66 percent less energy than conventional bulbs, and are without a doubt the low-hanging fruit of energy-efficiency options. They cost a bit more upfront, but they last up to 10 times longer, saving you a bundle in the long run. They have a soft golden glow – the same light quality as the old-school bulbs – and are the perfect stocking stuffer. To nudge you along, consider this startling fact from the Department of Energy: If every household in America replaced one conventional light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), it would prevent enough pollution to equal removing one million cars from the road.
2) Switch to “green power” via your local utility.
More and more local utilities these days are offering customers the option of paying a little more each month to support investment in green power – renewable sources such as solar and wind power that utilities feed directly into the electricity grid. (And it's not just available in eco-minded Northeast states. I made the “Green Power Switch” in my hometown, Nashville, Tennessee.)
You can contact your local utility directly to see if they have a program, or you can get info about nationwide green-power programs through the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which rates the best clean-utility programs in the country. You can also get great info about installing clean-energy sources on your own home at the D-I-Y info source Home Power.
3) Create your own personal carbon-offset program at CarbonFund.org
The average American emits roughly 24 tons of carbon dioxide every year, by powering and heating our homes, driving our cars, flying on airplanes, and buying products and food that require a tremendous amount of energy to produce and ship. With Carbonfund you counteract your “carbon footprint,” the amount of carbon you emit in your daily life, by reducing emissions elsewhere – in other words, by supporting clean energy use, energy efficiency, carbon sequestration, tree planting, and other efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.
Carbonfund lets you calculate your personal CO2 emissions, and then offers you a simple way to offset them, by donating to the zero carbon cause. For roughly $100 a year, you can negate your lifestyle's harm to the planet. It's easy: just calculate your carbon “footprint,” create an account, and donate.