Reducing your environmental impact can be a little overwhelming, especially with an influx of new information that can change very quickly from new research or developments. Start off small and take it a day at a time, and soon you'll be able to incorporate a lot of these ideas into your daily life.
Here are 10 ways to get started reducing your impact at home:
Park City worked with Summit Community Power Works to bring the SCPW Challenge online resource to life. Here you will find 70 actions you can do at home to conserve, all with available rebates and incentives, and step-by-step instructions on how to complete each action. It's even more fun when you get your neighbors to participate and form a team to win prizes and recognition!
Start off by being conscious of the energy you use at home, noticing what lights are on, when the TV is on, etc. Then make a concerted effort to turn off lights and electronics when they are not needed. Conservation is not about doing without, but about using energy wisely.
Snow Melt Systems
Many Park City residents use snow melt products, such as heat tape, to prevent ice dams on their roofs. These snow melt systems are needed for certain roofs, but they also use a huge amount of electricity. In fact, some systems use as much electricity an entire home! Make sure your snow melt system is turned off during warmer days and when natural melting occurs - some systems have been found to be operating during spring/summer, costing lots of money and burdening the community's carbon budget. If you find yourself forgetting to turn off your heat tape, you can purchase a timer that will do it for you.
While energy conservation is important, energy efficiency is even more important and for your home to be energy efficient, you should perform a home energy audit. This audit will tell you where you need upgrades to equipment, lights insulation, windows and appliances. Many of these changes are easy and inexpensive and will yield huge energy savings.
A home energy audit can be done by yourself, or you can hire an experienced professional to help guide you and offer the most cost effective recommendations. Here is a list of certified Home Energy Raters. In addition, for $25 you can work with one of Dominion Energy's Energy Experts to develop a plan to start saving energy (and money) immediately.
Reduce both water and energy use by upgrading to more efficient appliances. Look for ENERGY STAR labeled appliances that are guaranteed to be more efficient. While the initial cost of the appliance may be slightly more than a regular one, the money you save on energy will more than cover the cost of the upgrade. More here.
Avoid phantom loads that come from gadgets and electronics that draw power even when they're off. Unplug chargers, printers, gadgets, coffee makers, toasters and other similar electronics to avoid wasting unnecessary energy. You can also plug these devices into a power strip and shut off the power strip when not being used. You can test how much electricity your appliances use with an Energy Detective Kit from the Park City Library.
Cleaning solutions in your home may actually be toxic and causing you harm. Start cleaning your home with more natural cleaning supplies that are safer for your family, pets and the environment. Look for all natural, biodegradable and non-petroleum based products. When looking for natural and non-toxic cleaning products, avoid anything with synthetic ingredients or fragrances, petrochemicals, VOCs, chlorine bleach, phthalates, formaldehydes and more. You should always read the labels of any product, and if a product does not have a label with ingredients then it almost surely has harmful chemicals inside. Look out for words like Caution, Warning, Notice and Danger, which could signal a potential harmful chemical. Learn more about healthy cleaning products here.
When purchasing natural cleaning products make sure they bottle includes a list of ingredients. You should be able to pronounce the names of all of them and should know exactly what each one is. The best kind of natural cleaning product you can buy should be made with simple ingredients that you could find in the store and make yourself.