Reduce Your Footprint
There are many opportunities to reduce your environmental impact. Reducing your footprint can not only help you contribute to a cleaner community and environment, but also lead to a happier and healthier life. Below are opportunities to help you get started in adopting a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle.
Electricity comes from a variety of sources, including natural gas, oil, coal, nuclear, wind, and solar. Green power is electricity generated from renewable energy sources that are environmentally friendly, such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydropower.
New York State residents have the option to choose who supplies the energy their utility delivers to their home or apartment. By choosing a green power energy supplier, you will be supporting renewable energy development and reducing your carbon footprint.
Net Zero Homes
Imagine a house that produces as much energy as it uses, or even more—cutting annual utility bills down to zero. A net zero energy home can achieve this, providing you with significant energy savings over time. These ultra-energy-efficient homes often combine advanced design, solar energy production, and high-efficiency technologies.
Net zero homes are comfortable, healthy, quiet, and very affordable to live in. While the high energy performance features of net zero homes may come at a higher initial cost, the total cost of ownership, compared to that of a similar-sized home, could be less over time.
Transportation can account for a significant portion of your energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions, and costs. There are several ways to cut down on the environmental impacts of driving, while saving money, including:
Buy an electric car or truck. Not only are electric vehicles cleaner, but they offer a cutting-edge driving experience, save money on fuel, and need less maintenance than gas or diesel cars. New York offers a rebate to individuals who purchase electric vehicles—up to $2,000 for new car purchases or leases. This can be combined with a $7,500 federal tax credit. Learn more about electric vehicle options and available rebates.
Take public transit or start or join a carpool or vanpool to reduce your carbon emissions. Using rideshare websites and mobile apps can help you find other riders with similar destinations. Find transit and ride match options.
Walking and Biking
Walking and biking not only help reduce traffic and pollution from vehicles, they are less expensive and healthier modes of transportation. These options work well if your travel distance is manageable. Get started by identifying bike-friendly routes in New York.
Power Management Tools
Did you know that you may still be paying for the energy that your electronics and appliances use even when they are turned off? There are tools to help you take control of your home’s energy use and costs without having to unplug, including:
Advanced Power Strips
Many electronics consume energy whether they are on or off. Advanced power strips eliminate consumption by automatically turning power off when appliances are not being used. There are two types of advanced power strips to choose from.
- Tier 1 advanced power strips allow you to designate one device as the control, so when you turn off your TV, for example, other electronics plugged into the strip are automatically shut off.
- Tier 2 advanced power strips have features similar to those of Tier 1 advanced power strips, but also include either an infrared or motion sensor that can detect when electronics are not being used and turn them off automatically, without you having to do so.
Visit your local hardware or home improvement store to learn more and purchase advanced power strips.
Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS)
HEMS technologies allow you to directly monitor, analyze, and control your home’s overall energy usage in real time. Using a computer dashboard or mobile app, homeowners can see how much energy their home is using at any given time. For example, you can see the energy impact of various appliances and electronics simply by monitoring your HEMS while switching the devices on and off.
Learn more about HEMS [PDF].
Almost half of the monthly energy costs in your home are controlled by your thermostat. Smart thermostats, such as Wi-Fi and learning thermostats, are connected to the Internet and typically include a user interface, such as a mobile app or online dashboard. These thermostats allow you to regulate the temperature of your home no matter where you are. For example, you can save energy in the winter by setting the temperature to 68 degrees while you are awake and a lower temperature when you are asleep or away from home. Learning thermostats also track your temperature preferences and automatically adjust themselves.
Clean Heating and Cooling
Whether you use oil, natural gas, or other fuel sources, heating and cooling systems use a lot of energy. There are advanced heating and cooling options to help reduce your energy use and costs, including:
Air-Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs)
ASHPs heat your home in the winter and cool your home in the summer by moving heat between the outside and inside of your home—keeping your home a comfortable temperature all year round. Recent technological advancements in ASHPs make them a strong alternative to conventional heating in colder regions like New York State. ASHPs heat and cool your home two to four times more efficiently than conventional HVAC systems. They also allow you to customize the temperature of each room in your home.
Learn more about air-source heat pumps.
Ground-Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs)
GSHPs, also referred to as geothermal heat pumps, provide heating and cooling, and, in some cases, hot water for homes. GSHPs work by extracting heat from the ground and circulating it through a home. While the purchase price of a GSHP can be higher than conventional options, the efficiency and cost savings of switching to a GSHP can be significant. You can immediately save 30 to 60 percent on heating and 20 to 50 percent on cooling costs when switching from conventional heating and cooling systems.
Learn more about ground-source heat pumps.
Solar at Home
New Yorkers statewide are switching to solar. Whether you own or rent, solar can power most, if not all, of your home’s needs, including lighting, heating, computers, and appliances. Among other benefits, going solar will help you save money through reduced or eliminated electricity bills and create stability during periods of rate changes. There are several options available if you want to get solar for your home or apartment, including home installation (rooftop or ground-mounted) and community solar.