Living Environmental Stewardship

by John Berge

This is not the place for a political discussion, but people on both sides of the political fence agree that, in all probability, there will be major changes in the federal government’s position and rules regarding energy and the environment. Therefore, it behooves all good environmental stewards to do what they can to reduce their carbon footprint, their impact on the environment and any negative effects left for future generations to deal with.

Some things are as simple as turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees and putting on a warm sweater and slippers. Another is to check your home for energy leaks. Turn on the bathroom or kitchen exhaust fan to produce a slightly lower pressure in the house and check where the cold air is coming in. If around the outside doors, beef up the weatherstripping. If necessary, put one of those cute draft eliminators along the bottom of the door. If there is a draft around any windows, invest in some of the shrinkable plastic sealers over those windows. It is probably too cold to replace those leaky windows now, but make a note to do it in the spring. If there is cold air coming in around the electric outlets, you can pack in some insulation around the box and put a sealing insert under the outlet cover. If cold air is coming down from the attic, foam insulation and weatherstripping is an easy solution.

Keeping your car tuned up and tires properly inflated can improve the miles per gallon on just about any car. Also, reduce the number of miles driven by combining errands and other trips. Walking whenever possible is an even greater saving on the carbon footprint. When the time comes to replace tour car, look for a smaller, more efficient model. Maybe a hybrid, or electric car is the right car for you. If you will be recharging an electric car from the household circuits, switching from a coal-fired power plant to a renewable source is the most logical thing to do. Even without an electric car (I drive a hybrid), I switched to a source of all wind-powered electricity for our home. If you are interested in making this switch, please contact me at (262) 633-8455.

Another major source of greenhouse gases is the meat industry, especially beef. Cows produce a lot of methane which is many more times effective than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. It even breaks down to CO2 in the atmosphere. If we were to try a meatless Monday (or any other day) for awhile, there would be a significant saving in greenhouse gases from this source. Going vegetarian would really make a difference! Even switching from beef to poultry, fish or white meats can reduce our impact and probably improve our health.

How we cook can have a major effect, too. Using smaller appliances such as toaster ovens or crock pots rather than the big range can save energy and money. Microwave ovens are also more efficient and really reduce your carbon footprint if you have switched to renewable sources for your electricity. Other simple changes, such as using cold water for the disposal, an aerator on the faucet, and clean filters in the furnace can also add savings.

Checking for the Energy Star label on any new appliance is an important must, as is not buying too big a unit. If you have a refrigerator or freezer in the garage or an unheated area, unplug it. They don’t work efficiently in an area colder than 60 degrees. Keep all such appliances as clean as possible, especially the external coils, for the greatest efficiency, the least carbon footprint, and the least effect on the environment and climate change.

Good environmental stewardship means frequently examining how you live and what needs to be changed.

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