Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Seas-ing on Ways to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

May 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


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With reports that the seas are rising at the fastest rate in the last 28 centuries, now is the time to take action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), concentrations of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases) increase earth’s average temperature, influence patterns and amounts of precipitation, increase ocean acidity, reduce ice and snow cover, and raise sea levels.

Cutting the release of climate-altering gases in suburbia isn’t easy, but there are small, tangible ways for residents of Long Island to make an impact and ensure a more sustainable future. Fortunately, many actions which reduce greenhouse gases may keep money in your wallet in the long run. For instance, as the majority of Long Island’s housing supply consists of older single-family units, a home energy audit can be a particularly helpful start. Taking action on the recommendations the auditors make, such as installing a programmable thermostat to better regulate heating and cooling and improving the insulation of heating/cooling ducts, can cut emissions by five percent and save on energy bills.

You can reduce up to 1,050 pounds per year of carbon emissions, per the EPA, by adjusting the thermostat three degrees down in the winter and three degrees up in the summer. Combining that with the programmable thermostat, which dynamically adjusts the temperature as needed, you can double the amount of emissions reduced.

bioesferaImproving water consumption also helps reduce energy demand, in turn impacting carbon emissions. While Long Island has ample supply for its residents, the EPA estimates that three percent of the nation’s energy is used for water treatment and pumping activities. Running the dishwasher with full loads instead of half can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

Updating appliances not only changes the aesthetic of a room but will likely reduce carbon emissions linked to energy consumption. The Energy Star labels on new models highlight more efficient appliances; the EPA notes that if every household replaced their appliances with newer models, 175 million less tons of greenhouse gases would enter the atmosphere. Even better —homeowners would save a collective $15 billion on utility bills!

Homeowners going green should also use energy-saving lightbulbs. The EPA cites a staggering statistic: If every household were to replace a regular bulb with an energy-saving one, over 90 billion pounds of carbon emissions would be saved, which is the equivalent of removing over six million cars from the road.

On a larger scale, homeowners can invest in solar panels. Thanks to a rich marketplace with a variety of leasing and purchasing options and subsidies, many are supplementing their utility’s provision of power with this greener alternative.

Along with home modifications and altering everyday habits (such as letting dirty dishes build before running the dishwasher), Long Islanders can also impact the greater environment in other ways. On average 82 percent of Long Islanders take a car to work. Typical commutes have grown longer, with Long Island sitting slightly above the 30-minute average. That’s more time in the car and more traffic, so that’s more greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, any reduction of automobile traffic is a positive benefit.

While any auto-centric suburbia faces the challenge of integrating additional transit options for commuters, those who take the railroad and subway to work use two of the greenest available options in the metro area. For drivers who cannot avoid using their cars, the EPA offers tips towards making vehicles as efficient as possible, such as avoiding jackrabbit starts at green lights, easing up on braking when stopping, removing unnecessary items from the car and trunk, maintaining regular tune ups and maintenance, and ensuring tire pressure is up to factory specification. More efficient cars also likely use less gas, saving drivers money. In addition, much of the advice shared with drivers works for boaters as well. Greener vessels save money and reduce our vulnerability to the threats that climate change presents to our region and an increasingly warming earth.

By Richard Murdocco


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received his Master’s in Public Policy at Stony Brook University, studying regional planning under Long Island veteran planner Dr. Lee Koppelman. He writes about land use and real estate development at www.TheFoggiestIdea.org; follow him on Twitter @TheFoggiestIdea.

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