17 Ways to Save the Planet

Posted by 15 December, 2008

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I read articles quite often that provide their list of ways to save the Earth. If I type in “Ways to Save the Plant” into Google, there are 506,000 different links. Wow, that’s a lot of information. There is no denying that many of these websites and blogs offer terrific advice, but how do we know what is most effective? If I compiled a list of all of the different methods for saving the planet, I’m sure I would collect hundreds, if not thousands. Treehugger offers 25 Ways to Save the Planet and Smartmoney offers 20 Ways to Save the Planet which is certainly a digestible amount compared to the 100 Ways to Save the Planet that Life Goggles offers.

So, which of these tips, methods, hacks is the best use of your time for helping the save the planet?

Fortunately, Gerald Gardner and Paul Stern wrote a great article in Environment Magazine detailing a list of actions that can be taken to achieve the greatest savings of energy and carbon emissions and is prioritized with percentage of energy saved!

According to Gerald Gardner and Paul Stern, the 17 most effective actions are:

Action

For all individuals and households Immediate low-cost/ no-cost actions


Transportation

Energy Saved (percent)

1. Carpool to work with one other person

Up to 4.2

2. Get frequent tune-ups , including air filter changes

3.9

3. Alter driving (avoid sudden acceleration and stops

Up to 3.2

4. Combine errand trips to one-half current mileage

Up to 2.7

5. Cut highway speeds from 70 to 60 mph

Up to 2.4

6. Maintain correct tire pressure

1.2

Potential Savings subtotal

Up to 17.6

Inside the home

1. Lighting: Replace 85% of all incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent

4.0

2. Space conditioning:

Heat: Turn down thermostat from 72F to 68F during the day and 65F at night

A/C: Turn up the thermostat from 73F to 78F

3.4

3. Clothes washing: Use only warm water (or cold) wash , cold rinse setting

1.2

Potential savings subtotal

8.6

For all individuals and households Longer term , higher-cost actions

Transportation

1. Buying low-rolling resistance tires

1.5

2. Buy a more fuel-efficient automobile (30.7 vs. 20 mpg EPA average adjusted composite)

13.5

Potential savings subtotal for two actions listed

15.0

For homeowners: Inside the home Immediate low-cost action

1. Space conditioning: Caulk/ weather strip home

Up to 2.5

Immediate higher-cost action

Space conditioning: Install/upgrade attic insulation and ventilation

Up to 7.0

Potential savings subtotal for two actions listed

Up to 9.5

Long-term , higher-cost actions

Space conditioning: Install a more efficient heating unit (92 percent efficiency)

2.9

2. Space conditioning: Install a more efficient A/C unit (Seer 13 or EER 12 units)

2.2

3. Refrigeration/freezing: Install a more efficient unit (replace a 19-21.4 cubic foot top-freezer unit bought between 1993 and 2000 with a new Energy Star unit

1.9

4. Water heating: Install a more efficient water heater (EFS .7 unit)

1.5

Potential savings subtotal for four actions listed

8.5

Total potential savings for all six homeowner actions listed

Up to 18.0

Given this information, we could save a whopping 59.2% of energy. That’s a staggering figure when you consider that this doesn’t involve a hybrid. It doesn’t involve solar panels, wind farms, or anything very different than what we do today. Some of these are high dollar items and you should not consider those options unless they are necessary, but you can save a lot of energy by doing a lot of low cost actions. Based on the table above from Gerald Gardner and Paul Stern, you could follow through on 7 of the items and do all of them at little to no cost and save up to 20.1% in energy. In addition, a lot of these energy saving tips can also save you some dough such as cutting highway speed from 70 to 60 mph or maintaining tire pressure which both save money on gas.

Have you already been implementing some of these actions into your life? I was actually shocked how little of an effect a new heating unit or cooling unit for your house had on energy reduction.

If you enjoyed this article, please leave me a comment. I love comments :).

Other Posts:

The Biggest Bailout Ever
What Determines Happiness?
Is Happiness Viral?
10 Simple Ways to Overcome Disappointment
5 Ways to Soften the Financial Impact of the Holidays


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Comments
December 15, 2008

Isn’t it cool how easy it is to reduce your energy consumption with just a few small changes?

I really try to reduce my consumption by being mindful of what I’ve got going on in my life. This means doing things like anticipating errands so I can combine trips or planning meals ahead so I don’t end up buying convenience foods. These things aren’t hard, they just take a bit of thought.

December 17, 2008

Nice article! I liked the analytical breakdown.

Oftentimes I’ll see lists that have recommendations, but this is the first time I’ve seen a list with in depth numbers to back it up. Excellent!

Posted by Sid Savara
December 17, 2008

The small things really can add up. The other thing we have to worry about is complacency. It is important to care about saving energy even when fossil fuels are cheap (like now). After all, a limited resource can’t be cheap forever. Now is the time to start conserving energy, and making the switch to renewable/alternative energy.

Posted by Miranda
December 20, 2008

@ Maria – Thank you so much for your comment.

@ Sid – I’m an engineer by training so if there aren’t numbers involved, I probably won’t believe it. 🙂

@ Miranda – I sure hope that Americans don’t become complacent in regard to fossil fuels. It does seem that people do have a short memory. Great point!

Posted by HIB
December 20, 2008

Thanks for putting this information together. More people need to understand how EASY it is to do a few, small things to “Go Green”.

I posted a Tweet on Twitter the other day to say that, “If you are using tap water for short bursts (i.e. washing hands, wetting a sponge, etc.), it’s better to use just Cold water as the Hot water will never make it to the faucet and just sit there in the pipes and get cold again.”

Have an outstanding day! I’ll be answering the SU message you sent me shortly!

Bradley
@OutsideMyBrain

Posted by OutsideMyBrain
February 8, 2009

I live in a pre-HUD modular home, (trailer,) and I am constantly looking for ways I can afford to save energy costs. I find your blog useful. I have already done some of the things you recommend; but, you have given me more ideas. What I haven’t done that you suggest is: Space conditioning: Caulk/ weather strip home Thank you.

Posted by Rob Walace
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