Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ask Dr Green T: Home Sweet Home

What are ways we can cut back on carbon emmisions from our homes?
-Sophie Barrett, Green News Editorial Board Member

What a loaded question with so many answers. There are, as was stated in my previous blog, the numerous ways to cut down on water in your home which can be very beneficial toward reducing costs on your water bill as well as avoiding the waste of water on our planet. Definitely check those out before or after you guys finish with this blog!! :]

First things first, take a moment to calculate the energy audit of your home by clicking Here!! With this knowledge, you may better understand how much CO2 emissions are being produced from certain activities that you have been practicing without conscious knowledge of its negative affects.

Moving forward. One way to decrease one's carbon emissions is by reducing the amount of electricity they consume in their home. By installing Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs), you can save "2/3rds of the energy of a regular incandescent" as "each bulb can save $40 or more over its lifetime" ("Reduce...Footprint"). Also, always be sure to turn off your CFLs when leaving a room for more than 15 minutes. However, "in areas where electric rates are high and/or during peak demand periods, this period may be as low as 5 minutes" ("When...Lights"). That'll keep you set as far as lighting is concerned.

I have luckily convinced my family to switch our incandescent lightbulbs to CFls, and I find they are just as efficient as the former. Despite the initial 2-second delay when flipping the switch for your light to turn on, there is no other complaints that I have heard of from this product. It's safe, resourceful, and just as good as the incandescent ones!!

A common energy waster in homes has to do with the heating and cooling systems which residents usually overlook as a major energy-sucker. "By turning your thermostat back 10°–15° for 8 hours, you can save about 5%–15% a year on your heating bill—a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long" ("Thermostats...Systems"). Imagine that! With this in mind, during the winter season, try moving the temperature of your thermostat 2 degrees lower than you normally would; while in the summertime, be sure to increase the temperature by 2 degrees than that of the usual level you would have used.

A quick final note, when shopping for energy-saving appliances, be sure that your products contain the "ENERGY STAR" label on them which certifies that they are authentic.

Dr. Green T

Works Cited:
"Reduce Your Carbon Footprint." 2009. Web. 19 Sep 2009.

"Thermostats and Control Systems." Energy Savers. 24 Mar 2009. U.S. Department of Energy, Web. 19 Sep 2009.

"When to Turn Off Your Lights." Energy Savers. 24 Feb 2009. U.S. Department of Energy, Web. 19 Sep 2009.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ask Dr. Green T: Who Killed the Electric Car?

Dear Dr. Green T,
We all know that driving is bad for the environment, but sometimes it's necessary to get to work, school, etc. Are there any ways to make driving a little bit greener?

-Nicole Cogar, Green News Editorial Board Member

Thank you, Ms. Cogar, for such a great question!! =] It definitely is a lot more of a hassle to walk, bike, BART, or even bus to certain locations sometimes when these specific means of transportation are inconvenient or more time-consuming than desired. However, if you're trying to find the best way to travel greener, the previously listed solutions are your safest bets!

Although, this wasn't the question, Ms. Cogar, was asking, was it? She wanted to know how to be more environmentally-friendly when one IS and MUST drive to their preferred location. It's no surprise to say straight out that the Toyota Prius is the most eco-conscious car on the market as purchasing a new one of these models will cost you about $20,295, but "over the course of 10 years, the Prius might save as much as $2,100 in gasoline costs alone" (Williams-Derry). By using less gas, you will have prevented wasting "roughly 15 tons of CO2 over a decade," and that's definitely something to think about. Despite this knowledge, it's true that with our economic recession draining our wallets and our personal hunger for such a car, we must also look at other options before making a financial decision as investing in a new vehicle.

Now to the next option: Carpooling!! If you do a quick look up on and make your way to the Energy Generator for carpooling, they give you a great idea on how much energy you'd save by carpooling. It's great!! =] If I committed to carpooling at least 7 days this year, I could save enough energy to recharge my latop 874 times!! Crazy.

Not to mention that with more people carpooling, there will be significantly less cars on the roads in which case we may be able to reach our destinations faster, relieve stress from waiting in traffic jams, and "[reduce] traffic congestion in the region [because] carpool participants also improve the region’s air quality by removing over 1.5 million pounds of air pollution annually." I received this last bit of information from which helps those interested in carpooling to locate others with similar destination preferences. There are also many other sites on the web that dedicated to this specific purpose, so get out there & find yourself a carpool buddy!!

Or better yet, talk with your friends and family about putting together a carpool program for driving to work, school, or even to the mall or the movies. This way, you're not only saving money and helping the environment, but you're also spending quality time with the people you love and have fun with! It's a win-win situation for sure. :D

Last but not least on my rant, always know where you're going and if possible, pre-plan your driving expedition beforehand. This way, you won't end up cruising around aimlessly trying to locate a specific place or taking an extra long route that could have been avoided. That's why we have MapQuest and Yahoo! Maps! Also, if you pre-plan your driving expedition, you can find the easiest and shortest ways to reach your destination without wasting too much gas or CO2 emissions. Try it out!! =]

I hope I've been of some help to you, drivers, out there who are interested in helping our Earth without vetoing the use of your car altogether. It's a difficult compromise, but as long as you follow these tips and keep the environment in mind while on your driving adventures, then all will be well!!

Dr. Green T

Works Cited:
"Carpool Benefits." 2008. RideFinders. 4 Sep 2009.

"Energy Generator." willyoujoinus. 04 Sep 2009. Chevron. 4 Sep 2009.

Williams-Derry, Clark. "So You Want to Buy a Prius." The Tyee. 25 Jan 2005. 4 Sep 2009.

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