Make a New Year’s resolution to lower greenhouse gas emissions in 2018

Burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil, coal and gasoline increases the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and global warming.

According to the City of Greeley’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan, air quality in northern Colorado has been improving in recent years as emission standards for automobiles and industrial standards have increased. Carbon monoxide and particulate levels have been improving; however, Weld County, Larimer County, and seven other Denver metro area counties were recently found to no longer comply with EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone.

This year, make it your New Year’s resolution to contribute to reducing the demand for fossil fuels by using energy more wisely.

The following is a list of 10 steps you can take to reduce your household’s greenhouse gas emissions:

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Buying products with minimal packaging will help to reduce waste. Recycling half of your household waste saves up to 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

Use less heat and air conditioning

Adding insulation to your walls and installing weather stripping or caulking around doors and windows lowers your heating costs more up to 25 percent. Turn down the heat during the night or while you are away during the day. Install a programmable thermostat; setting it just two degrees lower in winter and higher in summer can save almost 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.

Replace light bulbs

Wherever practical, replace regular light bulbs with compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs. Replacing just one 60-watt incandescent light bulb with a CFL will save you $30 over the life of the bulb. CFLs also last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use two-thirds less energy.

Drive less and smarter

Less driving means fewer emissions. Besides saving gasoline, walking and biking are great forms of exercise. Consider public transit and check out options for carpooling.

When you do drive, make sure your car is running efficiently. Keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage. Every gallon of gas you save not only helps your budget, it also keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

Buy energy-efficient products

Home appliances now come in a range of energy-efficient models. In northern Colorado, most municipalities offer rebates when you’re able to show you’ve improved your home with an appliance that saves energy.

Use less hot water

Set your water heater at 120 degrees to save energy, and wrap it in an insulating blanket if it is more than 15 years old. Consider a low-flow showerhead to save hot water and about 350 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. Wash your clothes in warm or cold water; this change alone can save most households at least 500 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

Turn things off

Turn off lights when you leave a room and use only as much light as you need. Turn off your television, stereo, and computer when they’re not in use.

Plant a tree          

A single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime. In addition to the aesthetic qualities of trees, they also provide shade and give protection from wind, produce oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, and offer food and shelter for animals.

Get a report card from your utility company

Many utility companies provide free home energy audits to help consumers identify areas in their homes that may not be energy efficient. The City of Fort Collins mails a monthly update to households that not only updates you on your own use, but also shows you how you compare to others in your neighborhood.

Encourage others to conserve

Share information about energy conservation with your friends, neighbors, and co-workers, and take opportunities to encourage public officials to establish programs and policies that are good for the environment.