8 easy — and cheap — ways to cut your carbon emissions

by | Aug 30, 2023 | Financial

Artistgndphotography | E+ | Getty ImagesMost Americans see climate change as a major threat. But income level seems to guide one’s willingness or ability to live a greener lifestyle.Fifty-nine percent of high-income consumers always or often choose sustainable products, whereas that’s true for only 44% and 42% of mid- and low-income households, respectively, according to a new Deloitte survey. The poll was global, but the findings were consistent across individual countries such as the U.S., said James Cascone, partner at Deloitte.A sustainable purchase would largely aim to reduce your planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions — for example, replacing a household appliance with a more energy-efficient counterpart or buying an electric vehicle.More from Personal Finance:Consumers may get $14,000-plus in green rebates EVs may beat out gas cars in long run, experts sayThat socially responsible fund may not be as ‘green’ as you thinkLow earners were much more likely to cite cost as a barrier to an environmentally friendly purchase than high earners, Deloitte found.”Cost is a big factor,” said Gregory Keoleian, director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan.High earners generally have the largest carbon footprints, noted Deloitte’s Cascone. They own bigger homes, have more vehicles and travel more by air, for example, but they can also more easily afford to change their behavior.Sustainable products tend to carry a “green premium,” meaning they’re generally more expensive than the standard, experts said.Even if a purchase would ultimately save money over the long term — due to lower household energy costs, for example — people living paycheck to paycheck generally can’t afford to invest in things such as new home insulation or efficient windows, said Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy and professor at Texas Tech University.A new national rebate program aims to ease or eliminate the cost burden of such investments, especially for lower-earning households. EV tax credits also seek to reduce net cost to buyers.Here are some easy — and inexpensive or no-cost — ways to reduce your carbon footprint today, according to efficiency and environmental experts. You may even save money in the process.1. Switch to LED lightbulbs ASAPGado | Archive Photos | Getty ImagesSwitching out older lightbulbs in your home for LED bulbs as soon as possible is among the best actions you can take, according to Hayhoe.”It’s a no-brainer,” she said.Why? LED, which stands for light-emitting diode, is today’s most-efficient lighting technology, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.LEDs use up to 90% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, for example, the Energy Department said. They also last about three to five times longer than compact fluorescent light bulbs.As such, the average household saves about $225 in e …

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