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Two green footprints isolated on whiteToday’s “Ask the Expert” column features Charles Furlough, Vice President of Field Operations with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Q: What can homeowners do to lower their carbon footprint?

A: According to Environmental Science & Technology, the carbon footprint of U.S. households is about five times greater than the global average, which is approximately 10 tons CO2e per household per year. Carbon dioxide accounts for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, and electricity makes up the largest portion of CO2 emissions.

For homeowners, it’s important to note that the most power-hungry components within the home are what truly determine their carbon footprint status. Some of the devices that use the most energy include desktop computers, clothes dryers, water heaters and air conditioning units.

There are a couple of ways to lower your carbon footprint. First, unplug any appliances that are rarely used. You’ll also want to unplug devices when they’re not being used. For example, just because your computer is turned off doesn’t mean it isn’t sapping energy, so taking the time to unplug the computer while not in use can drastically improve your footprint. To reduce your carbon footprint even more, hang wet clothes on a line during the warmer months to give your dryer a break, and use fans when the temperature rises to reduce the amount of energy being used by the A/C. Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to plug consistently used appliances into a power strip, rather than right into the wall.

Additional tips include:

Open your freezer as little as possible. When the freezer is open, it increases the amount of energy consumed. Removing frost from the freezer also helps reduce energy consumption.

Position your refrigerator in the coolest place in the kitchen. It’s also important to leave an inch gap between the back of the fridge and the wall to help with ventilation.

-If food needs to cook for a long period of time, use a pressure cooker instead of the oven, as reducing cooking time will ultimately save energy.

Clean the dishwasher filter regularly to prevent build-up, which can cause the drain to clog and lower its ability to clean your dishes thoroughly.

Today, you can find many new appliances that are energy-efficient, cutting your energy consumption by 72 percent. By simply replacing some of your energy-guzzling appliances with energy-efficient ones, you can save up to $700 per year. Eventually, your new devices will pay for themselves by significantly cutting the cost of the energy you use. In addition, energy-efficient appliances will prove to be big-ticket items when it comes time to sell the home, so not only are you saving energy, you’re also making money in the end.

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