Global warming is a major concern today. But what can you do? Buying some compact fluorescent light bulbs doesn’t seem like much and buying a hybrid automobile is pretty expensive. There are things you can do that are affordable, save money, and reduce your impact on the environment. Environmental responsibility does not always mean sacrifice. Sometimes, it simply means making smart decisions.
Your Carbon Footprint
Your carbon footprint is a measure of the carbon dioxide emissions from your activities. It’s a measure of your impact on the planet. To reduce their carbon footprint, some people pay huge premiums for hybrid cars. But is this the best way to reduce your impact on the environment?
Some experts think that upgrading your home’s comfort system can have an even bigger impact than driving a hybrid automobile. If you wonder how, the answer lies, perversely, with your car’s air conditioner.
Jim Francfort has spent five years testing hybrid cars with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory. He found that, “The hybrids we tested got 15 to 27 percent lower fuel economy with the air conditioning on.”
Francfort’s findings are consistent with consumer complaints that hybrids have failed to achieve expected mileage gains. The cars still save fuel and reduce the driver’s carbon footprint, but not as much as expected.
Conversely, when you upgrade the efficiency of your home’s air conditioning system, you can have your cooling and carbon footprint reduction at the same time.
Cut Carbon — Cut Costs
Most North American electricity generation comes from burning fossil fuels at power plants. This is not pollution free. The emissions occur at the various power plant connected to the continental electricity grid.
When you reduce your electricity usage, you reduce power plant emissions, cutting your carbon footprint and simultaneously cutting your out-of-pocket utility costs. Who wouldn’t like to pay the utility less?
You Can Cut Your Carbon Cooling Footprint In Half
Air conditioning efficiency has improved dramatically. The base efficiency of a residential air conditioning system is 30% higher today than just a couple of years ago.
Air conditioning efficiency is expressed in SEER, or the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Think of SEER like miles per gallon for your car. The higher the SEER, the less you spend to cool your home.
The base efficiency today is 13 SEER. Depending on the age and condition of your air conditioner, your system might be operating at 6 SEER or less. Upgrading to a 13 SEER system could cut your cooling costs in half.
Remember, 13 SEER is the base efficiency. Higher efficiency models are available.
Should You Upgrade Now Or Wait?
Sooner or later you will need to replace your air conditioning system. You may want to wait if your system is less than ten years old, in good condition, and you have it tuned up every year.
If your system is older than ten years, is breaking down every few years, hasn’t been maintained, your summer cooling bills are high, or you experience comfort problems (e.g., some rooms are too hot or cold while others are comfortable), you should consider upgrading to a more comfortable, more efficient, and less expensive system with a smaller carbon footprint.