By Mark A Morales
There are several options that can be undertaken that will help control our environmental impact. I will present three helpful tips most people could easily do:
(1) Replace your current light bulbs with LED lighting,
(2) Make sure that your tires are inflated properly and,
(3) Take shorter showers.
According to a study done by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, LED bulbs are more environmentally friendly than both compact fluorescent bulbs and traditional bulbs. The main problem is that traditional bulbs consume far more electricity than LED bulbs.
“Switching to LED will reduce the environmental harm (from electricity use alone) by 3 to 10 times” (Learn).
LED bulbs will only improve over time, so energy use should reduce (Learn). Additionally, LED bulbs are safer than traditional or compact fluorescent bulbs. They emit no mercury emissions, can’t electrocute people, and don’t have any glass used in their construction, so there’s no chance of stepping on a glass shard (Gustina).
The only significant downside to LED lights are the high cost of LED bulbs relative to traditional bulbs, although the long life of LED lighting (around 100,000 hours) more than makes up for the high initial cost of replacing traditional bulbs with LED bulbs (“The Advantages of LED Lights”). Overall, while the initial investment is considerable, using LED bulbs will save people more money in the long run”
Secondly, making sure your tires are properly inflated is also one of the little things we can do to make sure they help the environment.
A study from the United States Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that:
“33% of trucks and 25% of cars have at least one under inflated tire while 3-8% had all 4 tires under inflated.”
This decreases fuel economy (by creating “drag” between the tire and the road), reduces the lifetime of your tires, and makes handling more difficult (“Eco-Facts and Tips on Inflating Tires”).
According to fueleconomy.gov, inflating tires to their proper pressure can improve mileage by about 3.3% whereas leaving them under inflated could lower mileage by .4% for every PSI (pounds per square inch) drop in pressure. That doesn’t sound significant, but for the average person who drives 12,000 miles yearly, under-inflated tires can cost an extra 144 gallons of gas, which will cost roughly $300-$500 a year.
For each gallon of gas burnt, an extra 20 pounds of carbon dioxide is added to the environment (West).
Considering that the United States already contributes to global warming significantly through our use of vehicles, it would be a good idea to do our best to minimize any damage done to the environment.
Air pressure in tires drops once the weather gets colder, so this problem will persist here in the windy city of Chicago and throughout the world, but we can manage it to ensure gas isn’t wasted. Keeping your tires properly inflated also gives better handling, which helps ensure the safety of yourself and the people around you.
Thirdly, to help the environment, people should try to take shorter showers (and consider taking a cold shower every now and then); which will help conserve water, your money and reduce energy consumption.
If you use an older showerhead, an 8-minute shower will consume 48 to 64 gallons of water while a 15-minute shower consumes 90 to 120 gallons (Skipton). Newer shower heads have limits on how much they can use, but regardless of what kind of showerhead people have, taking shorter showers saves both water and energy.
Did you know that hot showers in particular are especially wasteful when you consider that, 5.21 gallons of water will typically be used while people are waiting for the water to warm up (Rastogi).
It can become even worse if you keep in mind that most water heaters tend not to have very high energy factors, meaning that they don’t convert energy to hot water very well (Rastogi).
Having looked through methods ordinary people can take to help the environment, I determined that taking by switching to LED lighting, checking your tire pressure and taking shorter showers were the easy options that most people could take. Additionally, the side benefits of saving money in the long run by, switching to LED lightbulbs and taking shorter showers, would incentivize you to take action to help the environment. Not to mention the easy one of checking your tire pressure; be responsible -by being safe- for yourself and the ones you love. It’s a good year to help the planet and be more money savvy!
Photo from Jniittymma0, Pixibay.com