Save Thousands Living Green

The first science-based green living guide (based on extensive research by the Union of Concerned Scientists) finds that when it comes to reducing your carbon emissions, what matters most, in order of importance, is: what you drive, the energy you use at home, and what you eat. In the book, the scientists turn many eco-myths on their head.

Co-author Jeff Deyette, COOLER SMARTER, of the Union of Concerned Scientists COOLER SMARTER, challenges readers to cut their carbon emissions 20 percent and provides clear, simple steps that would enable every American to reduce his or her emissions by literally four tons annually.

Jeff will give a talk and signing at  7:30 PM at Powell's Books on Hawthorne (3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd.)


1. Switch to a car with better fuel economy. Upgrading from a 20 mpg car to a 40 mpg car can save you 4,500 gallons of gasoline over the car’s life span. At today’s gas prices, that’s a total savings of more than $18,000.

2. Make your house more air tight. Even in reasonably tight homes, air leaks may account for 15 to 25 percent of the heat our furnaces generate in winter or that our homes gain in summer. If you pay $1,100 a year to heat and cool your home, you might be wasting as much as $275 annually.

3. Buy and USE a programmable thermostat for 15 percent reduction in your heating and cooling emissions and save $180 a year. During the summer, a setting of 78 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal during the hours you are occupying your home, and 85 degrees when you are away during the day.

4. Eat less meat, especially beefan average family of four that cuts its meat intake in half will avoid roughly three tons of emissions annually.

5. Use power strips in your home office and home entertainment center to curb “phantom loads” and save a surprising amount on your electric bill. Keeping your laser printer turned on when not in use could be costing you as much as $130 annually.

6. Upgrade your refrigerator and air conditioner, especially if they are more than 5 years old. New ones are twice as efficient or more. For fridges: if they’re old an upgrade can pay for itself in as little as 3 years in energy savings alone.

7. Get an electricity monitor from your local hardware store or even borrow one from many local libraries to see where the energy hogs are in your home. This can help you save hundreds of dollars annually.

8. Change those lightbulbs. New LED lightbulbs can give the same light for 15 percent the electricity. That adds up to more than $100 in savings for most families each year.

9. Wash clothes in cold water. They get just as clean with today’s detergents. But hot water washes use 5 times the energy—and create 5 times the emissions. This could save you nearly $100 a year.

10. Buy less stuff. Reduce, Re-use and Recycle—it’s not just about pollution, but the strategy will lower your emissions to and help combat global warming.


11. Spread the Word. If all Americans reduced their emissions by 20 percent we could shutter 200 of the nation’s 600 coal plants, a great step in fighting the worst consequences of climate change.


UCS Publishes New Science-Based Guide Offering Practical Steps Americans Can Take to Cut Their Carbon Emissions

WASHINGTON – The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today released "Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living," a consumer-oriented book based on an in-depth, two-year effort to determine the most effective actions individual Americans can take to reduce their carbon emissions.

“After two years of research, we learned that when it comes to reducing your carbon emissions, what matters most, in order of importance, is:  what and how you drive, the energy you use at home, and what you eat,” said Brenda Ekwurzel, a co-author and climate scientist at UCS. “Most of the carbon reduction strategies presented in the book will also help readers save money and live healthier lifestyles.”

The largest chunk of Americans’ carbon emissions -- more than a quarter -- come from transportation, and the lion’s share of those are from driving, according to Cooler Smarter.

“If you’re in the market for a car, switch to one with better fuel economy,” said David Friedman, deputy director of UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program. “Upgrading from a 20 mile-per-gallon car to a 40 mile-per-gallon car will reduce your annual carbon emissions by almost 4 tons and save you about $18,000 in gas over the lifetime of the car.”

Even if you don’t replace your car this year, the researchers pointed out, you can still reduce your emissions and save money by tuning up your car, keeping your tires pumped up, and avoiding aggressive driving. These steps can save the average driver around $500 per year at today’s gas prices. You can also reduce how much you drive by carpooling, bicycling or using public transit a few times a week.

The second biggest thing Americans can do to reduce their carbon emissions, according to the UCS guide, is manage energy use at home.

“The average American home leaks so much air that it’s like leaving a window open year round,” said Jeff Deyette, assistant director of energy research and analysis in UCS’s Climate and Energy Program. “Our advice? Get an energy audit to identify where to seal up. It could save you $275 or more in heating and cooling costs a year. No one wants to be heating or cooling their neighborhood.”

Cooler Smarter also recommends installing -- and making proper use of -- a programmable thermostat; switching out incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents or LEDs, which can save more than $140 a year in lighting costs; and investing in an efficient refrigerator, likely the single largest user of electricity in the home after the furnace, central air conditioning and lighting.

The third category Americans can focus on when it comes to reducing their carbon footprints is the food they eat.

“The advice is simple,” said John Rogers, book co-author and senior energy analyst at UCS. “If you want to cut your global warming emissions, eat less meat, especially red meat. It’s pretty shocking to think that a pound of red meat has the same emissions as 18 pounds of pasta. And of course, we already know that eating less red meat also has proven health benefits.”

Cooler Smarter challenges readers to begin by cutting their carbon emissions 20 percent this year and provides clear, simple steps to get the job done—enabling each American to reduce his or her emissions by literally 4 tons annually on average. An accompanying UCS web feature helps people get started by providing 20 actions they can take over 20 days.

The book busts some myths along the way to keep readers focused on what matters most. For example, you shouldn’t worry much about how far your food has traveled when deciding what to buy at the grocery story because just 4 percent of food emissions on average come from transportation. It also shows that, for all the discussion of whether paper books or e-readers are greener, you will emit more in one 6-mile trip to the bookstore than the emissions caused by either, so it’s better not to sweat the small stuff.

“Cooler Smarter busts myths and presents real, effective steps for addressing carbon at the personal level,” said Rogers. “On average, the activities of each American add some 21 tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year. That’s more than you would cause by driving a typical car around the world at the equator. It’s also four times the annual global average of emissions per person. Those figures mean we each have an enormous impact, but they also highlight that we have a tremendous opportunity to do something about those emissions.”

If all Americans cut their emissions by 20 percent it would be the equivalent to shuttering 200 of the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants.



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