Environmental Fast Facts
A Ten Week Series presented by the Green Team
Scientists have concluded that when the amount of carbon in the atmosphere exceeds 350 parts per million, the effects of global warming result in rampant melting of arctic ice, drought spreading across the planet and rampant increases in diseases like dengue fever and malaria occurring in places where they’ve never been seen before. The bad news is that we’ve exceeded 400 parts per million.
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What you can do: Use a low-flow shower head
Average reduction of CO2 emissions: 450 pounds a year
Why: For an investment of $10 or less you can save $50 to $75 per year on water bills and $20 to $50 or more per year on energy bills (depending on your current showerhead and utility rates).
How: Select a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm
What you can do: Keep thermostat set at 68° in winter and 78 in summer.
Average reduction of CO2 emissions: 690 pounds a year.
Why: A change of 3 degrees or more (72 degrees can be considered the “normal” temperature setting), you can prevent the emission of almost 1,100 pounds of CO2 annually.
How: Set it and forget it! You can also buy a programmable thermostat. Kansas City Power & Light customers can request an energy optimizing programmable thermostat.
What you can do: Weatherize doors and windows
Average reduction of CO2 emissions: 621 pounds a year
Why: The barrier created around a house with windows, doors, insulated walls, ceilings and floors must be leak-free for a truly energy efficient house. About one-third of a typical home’s heat loss occurs around and through the doors and windows.
How: Make sure doors seal tightly and have door sweeps at the bottom to prevent air leaks. Find out how to weatherstrip doors from the U.S. Department of Energy or by calling the Kansas City Home Performance Network program at 816-835-7593 or e-mail email@example.com. If you’re a renter, contact the landlord before weatherizing doors or windows.
What you can do: Use canvas bags instead of paper or plastic
Average household reduction of CO2 emissions: 780 pounds a year.
Why: Each year billions of bags end up as ugly litter that breaks down into tiny toxic bits polluting our soil, river, lakes and oceans. The production of plastic bags requires petroleum and often natural gas, both non-renewable resources that put off greenhouse gas emissions.
How: Purchase canvas bags or use some you already own to transport your groceries instead of using plastic or even paper bags. Keep them in your car or some place where you’ll have them on hand.
What you can do: Recycle paper, glass and #1 and #2 plastic bags
Average household reduction of CO2 emissions: 1,000 pounds a year.
Why: Recycling saves natural resources, energy and landfill space. It also results in less air pollution and water pollution.
How: Bridging The Gap services several community recycling centers through the Kansas City metro region. You can recycle glass and many other materials there. If you live in Kansas City, MO you may be eligible for curbside recycling (KC Recycles), which picks up both paper and plastic. For more information on recycling in the greater Kansas City area visit www.recyclespot.org.
What you can do: Insulate your basement.
Average reduction of CO2 emissions: 1,148 pounds a year
Why: Hot air from the furnace rises up through the house and into the attic through leaks while the cold, outside air is pulled in through basement leaks, creating a chimney effect. This makes a home feel drafty and contributes to higher energy bills.
How: If your basement is not part of your living space, insulate the basement ceiling to keep the floor above it warm. If your basement is part of your living area, insulate the walls – not the ceiling. Basement walls with insulation on the exterior perform better than basement walls with insulation on the interior. Before insulating, be sure to check for moisture problems and any cracks in the foundation wall and be sure to repair or seal them. Contact the Kansas City Home Performance Network program of the Metropolitan Energy Center at 816-835-7593 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What you can do: Cut your gasoline use by one quarter
Average Reduction of CO2 Emission: 1,590 pounds a year
Why: On average, a passenger car emits 11,400 pounds of CO2 every year – almost one pound of C02 per gallon! Cars and light trucks are the top sources of emissions from transportation. In the U.S. all transportation emissions account for an entire third of total national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
*Work from home (telecommute) two days a week
* Carpool to work from anywhere up to 75 miles outside of downtown Kansas City through the Mid-America Regional Council’s RideShare program.
* Use alternative transportation with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority or The Jo.
* Bike or walk to the local store for errands. Each mile you walk will save about a pound of carbon.
What you can do: Plant a tree.
Average reduction of CO2 emissions: 1,600 pounds a year
Why: Trees can reduce air conditioning needs by 30-50 % and can save 20-50 % in energy used for heating. They provide excellent protection from summer sun by shading roof, walls and windows. Deciduous trees permit winter sunlight to reach and warm the house in the winter, increase property value while cleaning the air and improving water quality.
How: Consider a tree's future size, shape, overall appearance, foliage texture and density, flowers, fruits and fall coloration.
What you can do: Insulate your attic to R50
Average household reduction of CO2 emissions: 2,142 pounds a year
Why: One of the greatest sources of energy efficiency in a home is to insulate your attic to R38 or R50 if you have an electric heater.
How: This can pay for itself within about 5 years. Find out more by contracting the U.S. Department of Energy’s Consumer Guide or the Kansas City Home Performance Network program of the Metropolitan Energy Center at 816-835-7593 or e-mail email@example.com. Renters: Get with other residents and ask your landlord to upgrade the insulation in your unit. Point out the benefits that they will save money in energy costs, help residents be more comfortable and reduce air pollution from power plants.
What you can do: Drive smoothly.
Average household reduction of CO2 emissions: 2,500 pounds a year
Why: This is a free way to reduce your gasoline use and money spent at the pump while reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of your car or truck, which make up one third of all American GHG emissions.
How: Drive as if you have no breaks – that means no sudden stops and starts. Accelerate gently and read the road ahead to avoid unnecessary braking. Write yourself a small note on the steering wheel or dashboard to remind yourself.