Here are some easy and inexpensive tips for reducing your carbon footprint, courtesy of City Hall this morning. For more info visit greenprint.org. 1. Adjust your thermostat. During warm months, turn the thermostat up two degrees; during cold months, turn the thermostat down two degrees. This will decrease your carbon output by about 2,000 pounds per year and can save about $98 per year. 2. Unplug electronics when not in use. Even when electronics are turned off, items like cell phone chargers, stereos, toasters, and computers keep using energy. If you pull plugs out of the wall, you can save about 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and $256 per year. 3. Replace three frequently-used light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). CFLs cost a little more than regular light bulbs â€“ about $8 per bulb â€“ but they save money in the long run by using one-fourth the energy of an ordinary bulb and lasting approximately 10 times longer. Switching three bulbs can save $60 and 300 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. 4. Adjust your computer settings so both the computer and monitor go to sleep when inactive for 10 minutes. Even when your display switches to screensaver mode, your computer is still using a great deal of power. This step can save approximately 250 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. 5. Only run your dishwasher when it is full and use the energy-saving setting if you have one. By eliminating just one load per week, you can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide and $40 per year. 6. Wash your clothes in cold water or use the warm/cold setting instead of the warm/warm setting. Switching to cold water on two washes every week saves 500 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. 7. Plant a few trees. Trees sequester â€“ or store â€“ between five and 400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually depending on their size and growth rate. Properly placed trees shade our homes and office buildings, reducing air conditioning needs up to 20 percent, thereby reducing the amount of fossil fuels burned to produce electricity. 8. At least one day a week, take the bus or light-rail, ride a bike, walk or carpool. Every time you avoid driving one mile, you save one pound of carbon dioxide. To get in the spirit, remember that Metro Denver's Bike to Work Day is June 27, 2007. 9. Fill your car tires. Under-inflated tires require more energy to roll, which translates into more frequent gasoline fill-ups. According to the Department of Energy, you can improve your fuel economy by about 3.3 percent if you keep your tires inflated properly. For example, a car that normally gets 25 miles per gallon and drives 12,000 miles per year would require one extra 16-gallon fill-up (about $50) annually. Multiply that by a million cars and the difference really adds up. 10. Minimize car idling. If you turn off your car when you're not moving for 10 minutes a day, you can save 550 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and money on gas. 11. Gather all of the catalogs you get in the mail each month and take a few minutes to cancel the ones you never look at. All you need to do is call the customer service number â€“ it's usually listed towards the middle of the catalog by the order form â€“ and read a representative your customer number, which is on the back cover over the address label. If you cancel five catalogs, you can decrease your carbon output by about 77 pounds. 12. Check your water heater thermostat. Make sure it is set no higher than 120 degrees. For every 10 degrees you turn the temperature down, you can save 600 pounds of carbon dioxide if you have an electric water heater or 440 pounds for a gas heater every year. 13. Reduce the water you use for showers. Even if you don't want to take shorter showers, avoid the habit of turning the shower on to let it warm up for a few minutes before you get in. Showers use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, and each gallon uses three ounces of carbon dioxide. If you run your shower for two less minutes a day, you can save 342 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. 14. Recycle! In Denver, if you live in a single-family house, town home, or an apartment building with fewer than seven units, you can get residential pick-up for free. If you go to www.denvergov.org/DenverRecycles/ and click on the New Customer Sign-up link, you can find out if you're eligible and sign-up for pick-up. If you live in a larger apartment complex, you can click on the Recycling Directory link to find the closest drop-off recycling center. Every time you recycle one pound of garbage, you reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by one pound. 15. Carry reusable water bottles and coffee cups. One plastic mug, used twice a day, every day instead of disposable cups, can save 135 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per person per year. While stainless steel or ceramic mugs require more materials and energy to create, they can be reused for years. This more than offsets the initial energy expended and reduces waste volume considerably.
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