Many Americans share a sincere concern for the state of the planet. Global warming has made a serious impact on the world, growing more severe since the 1990s.
Taking global warming seriously means that many concerned citizens want to make a personal impact on the problem. While individual homeowners can only make fractional impacts on the environment, their example can lead more people to adopt renewable and sustainable energy sources, causing a cultural shift and making their changes permanent.
Jacob Gitman, a scientist and entrepreneur and firm believer in sustainable and renewable energy, explains how the average American citizen can help the planet by using renewable and sustainable technologies.
At-Home Solar Energy
The simplest way to help the planet through sustainable energy is by installing solar panels or a solar array at home. These panels collect energy from the sun and transmit it into batteries or directly into the home’s electrical system. These systems have made significant advances in the last 20 years, meaning that they are less expensive to install than ever before.
If the home uses less energy than it produces with the solar panels, it is possible to set up the system so that the excess energy goes back to the electrical grid. This means that the electrical utility pays the homeowner for the power. This can help a solar system pay for itself over time.
The United States government also incentivizes homeowners to buy these systems through the adoption of the federal solar tax credit, officially known as the Investment Tax Credit. (ITC) This program allows taxpayers to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installation from their federal taxes. This program applies to both commercial and residential systems. This program is set to decrease over the next several years, so investing before the end of the calendar year 2019 is recommended.
Another highly efficient, environmentally friendly method to heat your home is geothermal energy. During a geothermal energy installation, deep wells are dug near your home. These wells bring the natural heat from the earth up to the surface to be used in your home. This is the same heat that heats natural hot springs. While the initial cost of installing a geothermal system is high, the energy it produces is extremely affordable and will soon pay for itself.
Wind power is less common for home use, but it is beginning to catch on. A wind turbine for a home can be purchased for as little as $400 for small amounts of power. Using a wind turbine, even the slightest breeze can produce clean and renewable energy. Some neighbors may find the turbine unsightly, so this technology is mostly used in rural areas.
Reduction in Single-Use Plastics
Another sustainable practice that is important for the maintenance of the environment is a reduction in single-use plastics. Plastic is made from petroleum byproducts, furthering our dependence on fossil fuels. Plastic water bottles are especially damaging.
Only 9.5 percent of plastic material is recycled in the United States. It is far more environmentally friendly to use a reusable water bottle which can be filled wherever you go.
Other single-use plastics like grocery bags and zipper bags are targeted for reduction. While it is possible to recycle plastic grocery bags, most shoppers simply throw these items away. Taking this problem seriously means using reusable bags for each shopping trip or ensuring that recyclable bags are returned to the store where they were purchased.
Reduce Dependence on Fossil Fuels
Reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels begins at home. A properly insulated home will stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, lessening the need for electricity or fossil fuels to make the home comfortable. Walk or bike whenever you can, saving the car for occasional trips. If you can, buy a plug-in electric car or a hybrid since these are much more environmentally friendly.
Wherever possible, replace throwaway plastics in your home with reusable items. Do not buy plastic utensils or bottled water. Taking the time to wash a few dishes could significantly help the environment if enough people did it.
Doing Your Part for the Planet
When you follow these guidelines, you will feel good about contributing to a better future for the world. Many people may feel discouraged about climate change and our part in a damaged world, but it is better to have a hopeful attitude.
Using environmentally friendly power and heating as well as reducing your household’s dependence on single-use plastics will help the planet. Encourage as many of your friends and family as possible to follow your example.
Jacob Gitman reminds readers that taking the environment seriously is a vital part of being a good citizen. When people take the time to make their activities environmentally friendly and sustainable, they will be a part of the revolution against pollution, waste, and climate change.