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Taking On Climate Change At Home: How You Can Cut Carbon Emissions

Taking On Climate Change At Home: How You Can Cut Carbon Emissions

Feeling green? If you'd like to do something to slow down climate change, even if it's just a small thing, you can get started in your own apartment or house.

Homes and commercial buildings account for about a third of the country's greenhouse gas emissions, because it takes energy to heat and cool them and to power all the gadgets we've got plugged in. Much of that energy, whether it's electricity from a power plant far away or heat from a gas furnace in your basement, comes from burning fossil fuels, which releases greenhouse gases.

But you can change that. "If you want to do something about climate change, your home is among the most important places to look," says Donnel Baird, CEO of BlocPower, a startup company that's carrying out energy upgrades of buildings in several cities, including New York.

Start with simple steps.

We talked to experts and collected tips for how to proceed. Rohini Srivastava, a senior researcher at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, says it makes sense to start with small, simple and cheap steps that save energy.

For instance, there's that energy-control device called a thermostat. "I would start off with heating and cooling my space smartly," Srivastava says. That could mean relying more on natural ventilation to cool your home in summer while turning the thermostat down during the night in winter and staying cozy with more blankets instead. If you don't fight the seasons quite so aggressively, your heater and air conditioner won't have to work so hard.

Another simple fix: Seal the cracks and holes around the house that allow air to blow through. You may have to learn about caulking and weatherstripping, but you can pick up all you need to know at your local hardware store.

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