Ask the Expert

What are the top three things I personally can do to save energy and support sustainability?

Fannie Koa, a communications and outreach specialist at the Tufts Office of Sustainability, gives the details
September 17, 2012

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Saving energy is good for the environment as well as our pocketbooks, but it can be confusing to figure out the best ways to conserve. For most people, focusing on our homes and thinking about our commuting habits can make a big difference. Here are the three best ways you can save energy:

At home, plug up leaks in attics and basements and around doors and windows with caulking or weather stripping. Then add insulation, which will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Use your car less. The biggest part of most people’s carbon footprint is auto emissions from commuting. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a typical passenger vehicle emits about 5.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. So find another way to travel: it can go a long way toward minimizing your carbon footprint while also saving money on gas. When it’s time to buy a new car, find one with good gas mileage. The average SUV gets about 12 miles to the gallon, while an efficient sedan can get up to 35 mpg, and some hybrids reach 60 mpg. If everyone bought the most efficient car in their respective class, our country would save approximately 1.47 billion gallons of gas each year.

One of the most important things you can do at home takes place when you’re not there. Turn off energy-draining appliances as well as computers and lights. A conventional computer monitor uses the same amount of electricity as a 75-watt light bulb. Turning it off can save a tremendous amount of energy, even if you’re only going to be away from it for 10 minutes. If you buy a new computer, consider a laptop; it uses much less energy than a desktop. When you’re out, you can still control your home’s temperature by installing a programmable thermostat. In the winter, lower the heat to between 65 and 68 degrees in the day and between 50 and 60 degrees at night. In the summer, set your air conditioning thermostat to between 73 and 83 degrees.

To learn about other ways to save energy at home, visit http://www.masssave.com/residential/learning-center/.

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