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Book's ideas can shrink carbon footprint

Are you taking more from the environment than you give? Are you making a negative imprint on the planet? Are you as green as you can be? How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: 365 Simple Ways To Save Energy, Resources, and Money, by Joanna Yarrow (Chronicle Books, $12.95), has energy-saving ideas to help you do your part to be eco-friendly. Here are some excerpts. Lyra Solochek, BayLink Editor

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For the house

• Train vines up trellises on the hottest side of the house. Keep the trellis at least 6 inches from the wall to provide a buffer of cool air.

• Heat as you go: Heat or cool only the rooms you're using, regulating each room separately with a zone control system.

Electricity

• Maximize your use of natural light. For example, paint walls in light colors to brighten a room, keep draperies, shades, and blinds open during the day to let in as much sunlight as possible, and make sure your windows are clean. If you work at home, choose a naturally light room to minimize the need for artificial lighting.

• Reduce the brightness of your TV screen; this can cut your TV's power consumption by 30 to 50 percent. The factory setting is often much brighter than necessary. If you have an LCD TV, you can usually turn down the backlight.

In the kitchen

• Look for a convection (or fan) oven, which will enable you to cut cooking times by up to 30 percent and temperatures by around 20 percent.

• Let it be. Resist the temptation to open the oven door to check progress. Every time you do so, up to 25 percent of the heat escapes.

Cleaning and laundry

• Try microfiber cloths, which, when moistened, trap and absorb dust and dirt, avoiding the need for extra cleaning products.

• Keep dirt out. Try planting trees or a hedge between your home and the street — the vegetation will capture a lot of dust before it reaches your home.

• Presoak especially grubby clothes before putting them in the washing machine to avoid the need for a hot wash and large amounts of detergent.

Water use

• Use water twice with a graywater system, which recycles water from bathtubs, showers and washing machines. Or siphon bathwater into the garden for watering your plants.

Personal hygiene

• Turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth. You'll save up to 2 1/2 gallons of water each time you brush.

In the yard

• Plant trees if you can. One tree can absorb more than a ton of CO₂ in its lifespan, much of which is released into the atmosphere when it decays; so ideally, the tree should be used for lumber at the end of its life and another planted in its place.

What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO₂) emitted as a direct or indirect result of an activity. Almost everything we do results in CO₂ emissions — from breathing to traveling, warming our homes to buying food . . .

At the moment, CO₂ is being released about three times faster than it can be reabsorbed. Every second, human activity emits another 770 tons — enough to fill 140 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Source: How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Book's ideas can shrink carbon footprint 06/21/08 [Last modified: Sunday, June 22, 2008 10:45pm]
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