Sustainability | Renewable Energy

Green Building - Lowering Emissions from the Home

The Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed stricter energy standards on household appliances that, if passed, will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save Americans $3.5 billion on utility bills annually.

It's been over a decade since the DOE updated the regulations for appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, and others. The department hopes the new energy efficiency standards will positively impact reducing carbon emissions and estimate this change will eliminate 233 million metric tons of emissions over the next 30 years.

The U.S. has been making significant strides in lowering carbon emissions and reducing its carbon footprint in the 21st century. The Biden-Harris administration has set a net-zero energy objective to reduce waste produced by electrical grids by 100% by 2035.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Your Home

by Jane Marsh


Why Do Carbon Footprints Matter?


Almost 80% of the global power supply comes from fossil fuels. When these fuels burn, the carbon and greenhouse gasses stored inside float into the Earth's atmosphere and weaken it. The results are tremendous changes to the planet's climate. These changes include rising global temperatures, stronger weather patterns like hurricanes, and ecosystem-wide shifts.

But what can homeowners do to reduce their carbon emissions? Studies show residential properties produce 30% of energy-related emissions. That figure encompasses all of a home's electricity and gas usage, and creates 7.5 tons of CO2 per year.


Simple Ways To Reduce Your Home's Carbon Emissions


It seems daunting, but there are plenty of ways to make your home more environmentally friendly.

  • Switch off lights and unplug electronics: Many electronics use power even when turned off. Using a power strip with a switch can help regulate power easily when they aren't in use.
  • Change out your lightbulbs: If your lamps and fixtures still use old incandescent light bulbs, consider replacing them with LEDs, which are far more efficient.
  • Invest in smarter thermostats: Gas usage is one of the main culprits in a home's CO2 emissions. Most of that gas goes to your heating system. If you live in a place with a cold season, consider investing in a digital thermostat that can help you cut down on heat usage. These thermostats are programmable and can easily adjust to your needs.
  • Take shorter showers: Heating your water produces the same amount of carbon as heating your home. Taking shorter showers or using less hot water can help reduce your home's carbon emissions.
  • Look into weatherization programs: A weatherization program reduces household energy costs by increasing efficiency by sealing up air leaks throughout your home and adding insulation to keep warm air inside.
  • Maintain your refrigerator: Most refrigerators today are very energy efficient. However, parts that malfunction or wear down over time can increase the amount of carbon it produces. Not to mention, it also shortens the life of your refrigerator.

Alternative Energy Solutions


Investing in alternative energy can make an even more significant impact on reducing your home's carbon emissions. These forms of energy rely less on fossil fuels and are completely clean.

1. Geothermal Heat Pumps

Harnessing geothermal energy is essentially taking heat from the ground or a nearby water source and pumping it through your home. Even if you live in colder climates, the temperature below the surface of the Earth is a constant 75° Fahrenheit. These pumps can heat, cool, and even supply hot water.

2. Solar Panels and Ovens

When it comes to alternative energy, solar is often the largest discussion. Solar energy programs today are very affordable for the average homeowner. They can go a long way toward reducing emissions and saving money on energy.

The most common type of solar panel — photovoltaic panels — converts light to electricity, producing a form of energy that is completely clean with zero emissions. Once an experimental technology, solar panels are now widely available to the public.

Solar technology can be used for a wide range of applications. Solar ovens — also known as solar cookers — use the sun's rays for cooking meals. The device gathers and traps energy from the sun and uses it to increase the temperature inside to the level where it can cook food.  Using a solar cooker can not only reduce carbon emissions, but it can also reduce the time and energy required to gather firewood for a wood stove.

3. Wind Energy

Depending on where you live, a residential wind turbine might be the best option for your household. Like solar panels, wind turbines produce clean energy that can also drastically reduce your electric bills.

However, they're not a universal solution. You have to do some research and work to determine if your area is windy enough to power your home. Turbines need at least 5 to 10 mph winds to produce the maximum amount of electricity. In addition, turbines work best in areas where buildings are spaced out so the wind is not blocked.

Helping the Planet with a Carbon-Free Home


Reducing your home's carbon footprint may take much work. However, reducing your emissions and utility bills pays off in the long run. As the government takes environmental issues more seriously, more sustainable technology will be developed and made for consumer use. Emission reduction is the way of the future.

Article by Jane Marsh

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

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