10 Things To Do To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: Earth Day 2023
SmartFinancial Offers Unbiased, Fact-based Information. Our fact-checked articles are intended to educate insurance shoppers so they can make the right buying decisions. Learn More
The American Society of Interior Designers announced in February 2023 that American homeowners today care greatly about the sustainability of their homes. It used to be too expensive for most homeowners to do the right thing in the past but today, home buyers are putting their dollars into buying sustainable homes.
One major reason for the shift in homeowner preferences is the severity of the storms we are experiencing. People not only see a link between severe weather and climate change but they understand that they need to build tougher to withstand catastrophic storms that are not only dangerous but very costly.
Another reason homeowners prefer sustainable homes – and clean-energy eclectic vehicles – is that they intuitively understand that living cleanly is not only beneficial to the earth but fewer toxins and better air are also better for their own well-being and that of their families.
Only some of us are able to use sustainable materials, ranging from the paint on our walls, to the type of flooring and work surfaces in our homes. Others are only able to buy sustainable furniture and energy-saving appliances. And that’s perfectly okay. If we all took one simple step to make our homes more environmentally friendly, we’d make a huge impact as a whole.
Whether it’s a car or homeowners insurance discount or a bill cut in half, another great benefit of sustainability is the savings. Here’s a roundup of what you can do to lessen your carbon footprint.
10 Things You Can Do To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
1. Electric Vehicles
Oil and gas are still at a record high. Buying an electric vehicle will free you of gas, and you’ll be ahead of any bans on gas-powered cars that will be inevitable in the future. An electric vehicle may be a little pricier than its gas-powered counterpart but you don’t have to rely on gas anymore. As for range anxiety, it’s a good idea to look into your options for charging your EV before you go out and buy one. If you can do it at home, great. If not, look into nearby charging stations. If you find several that seem to have working machines, an EV may be a good way of being a more carbon-friendly driver.
Car insurance discounts are another reason to drive an EV or PHEV. Many insurers offer a green car discount or a clean-energy discount.
2. Solar Panels
Solar panels will dramatically cut down on your energy consumption and bills. There are more affordable solar panels available these days. While it takes many (17 to 22 for the average house) to fully operate all utilities, you can offset your costs at least partially. The great thing about solar panels for roofs is that they often fortify and add an extra layer of protection to your existing roof. Residents of states with higher-than-average energy rates and those who consume higher amounts of energy will benefit the most.
As for the cost of buying or leasing solar panels, it’s good to know that there are many EV and PHEV rebates available. The federal solar tax credit provides a tax reduction up to 30% of your solar installation costs. Additional state tax credits and incentives may be available in your area. Your local utility company may also offer one-time rebates. If you live in an area with year-round cloudy or rainy weather, there are other ways to save and be environmentally responsible.
If you can't afford solar you can always call your power company to look for programs to help provide discounts based on usage.
3. Electric Water Heater
When it’s time to replace your water heater, consider switching to electric, which is cheaper and doesn’t require fuel, which will save you even more money. The great news: Electricity does not spike in prices the way gas does due to market conditions! Until you buy an electric water heater, you can save tons of money by washing your clothes with cold water.
4. Energy Saving Appliances
Saving electricity is also important and can save you money with energy-saving refrigerators and low-water consumption items like smart shower heads, toilets and dishwashers. Energy Star appliances, for instance, can save 10% to 50% of the energy required to run the appliance(s). Digital thermostats can greatly increase energy efficiency and can be controlled with a smartphone. Low-flow toilets only use 1.6 gallons per flush and will save you tons of money over the course of a year.
5. Grow a Sustainable Garden
Sustainable gardening and landscaping can slow climate warming by reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon storage in soil and plants. Indoor gardening has become popular for people who don’t own land. You’ll still be increasing carbon storage, and you’ll be buying less produce from the grocery store, where food is often flooded with chemicals and pesticides.
6. Plant Trees
Trees provide food and oxygen. They help save energy, clean the air, and help combat climate change. Trees can also beautify your home and grow as your family grows. Just make sure not to plant so close to the house that its roots interfere with the foundation of your home or pose any other type of risk to the home’s structural integrity. You can plant close enough, however, to create shade and block heavy winds so you cut down on the need for air conditioning in summer and heating in winter.
7. Washing With Cold Water
Even if you have an energy saving water heater or washing machine, washing with cold water will save you money and conserve energy. You spend 75 to 90% of the energy the washer uses on heating the water. There are plenty of detergents that will clean thoroughly even in cold water. You could save a hundred or two hundred dollars depending on the size of your family.
8. Use Sustainable Materials for Flooring
When it’s time for new floors, think about the environmental repercussions of the materials you use. Reclaimed, salvaged wood is cheaper than new wood floors and can help prevent waste. Other materials that are great for new floors are bamboo, cork and recycled glass.
9. Buy Double-Pane Windows
Double-pane windows will lock out heat and cold 50% more so you’ll save money on heating and cooling throughout the year. They may cost a bit more than regular windows, but the savings will offset the cost in no time.
10. Use LED Lights
LED lights and light bulbs don’t suck as much energy and will reduce your energy consumption and trim down your bills.
Car and Home Insurance Savings
- You should expect a discount from your insurer when you insure an EV or PHEV. If your insurance company doesn’t offer one, it’s time to shop for a new insurer.
- Your solar panels may already be insured if you’re leasing, so you don’t have to worry about increasing your home insurance limits and you’ll be increasing the value of your home.
- See if your insurer offers a green-materials endorsement, which would allow you to rebuild your home using environmentally sustainable materials if your home is damaged by a covered peril. It may save you money over going green all on your own.
- Consider bundling your home and auto when insurance shopping and see which comes out cheapest, insuring separately at the cheapest rate or with a discount for bundling.
Other Ways To Be Active on Earth Day and Every Day
- Volunteer for a nearby cleanup event
- Conserve water
- Conserve electricity by turning off devices when not in use
- Recycle materials
- Donate items to Goodwill and other charitable organizations
- Give to an environmental charity
- Volunteer at a community garden
- Buy second hand items
- Don't Litter
While we can’t all live in completely sustainable homes, we can all pitch in to make a difference by making small changes in our lives for the better. It’s also great to save some money by being more environmentally responsible. You may be paying too much for car or home insurance if you haven’t shopped around in more than six months. Rates change daily and according to market conditions. See how low your monthly premiums can be by comparing insurance quotes. Just enter your zip code to get started for free.