How to Reduce Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions

April 26, 2023

Republished and co-authored with permission by our partners at wikiHow
Click here for the original article

Are you worried about your impact on the environment? As you juggle work, family, and personal time, it can be hard to keep track of your carbon footprint, or how many greenhouse gas emissions you typically release into the environment. [1] Don’t worry. We’ve put together a list of some easy, helpful ways you can reduce these emissions, while possibly saving some money in the process.


Audit your home’s energy use.

  1. Ask your utility company if they can send you a “report card” of your energy usage. Then, look over your report really carefully. This audit can help you figure out what your household is doing well, and how you can improve in the future.[2]
  • If you have the time and resources, you can hire a professional auditor to inspect your home and offer energy-saving advice.[3]

Recycle regularly.

  1. Memorize what can and can’t be recycled around your home. Paper, tin cans, and steel typically can be recycled, as can many plastics.[4] Check the bottom of your plastic containers for the triangular recycling symbol with a number in the center. Then, hop on your state or region’s website and see which numbers are recyclable in your area.[5]
  • Feel free to send any broken electronics to your local electronics store. If your electronics are still in good condition, give them a new home.
  • Don’t put regular waste in your recycling bin, like garden hoses, syringes, or broken glass. Instead, toss these items in the trash.
  • Ask your kids to help, too! Let them know what can get tossed in the trash and what can go in the recycling bin.[6]

Compost your waste.

  1. Food waste can create methane when left in landfills. To stop this from happening, set up a composting system for your household instead.[7] Compost breaks these food scraps into safe, eco-friendly waste that you can reuse in your home garden.[8]

Shut off your lights and electronics.

  1. Turning off unneeded electricity is an easy, helpful way to lower your carbon footprint. Before you leave your home, switch off any lights and unnecessary appliances.[9] While you’re at it, turn off any other electronics, like TVs and computers.[10]
  • Power strips and surge protectors are a handy way to shut off multiple electronics at once.
  • You could also unplug your electronics completely when you aren’t using them.
  • If you have kids at home, encourage them to unplug their video game consoles and other electronics once they’re done using them.[11]

Install LED lightbulbs.

  1. Traditional, incandescent lightbulbs use a lot of energy.[12] LED lights are a little pricier, but they use a lot less energy and can last over 20 times longer than a traditional bulb.[13]
  • Some environmental advocates recommend switching to compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs. While CFL bulbs are better than incandescent lights, they still aren’t as energy-efficient as LED bulbs.

Set up solar lights.

  1. Solar lights are powered by sunlight instead of fossil fuels.[14] Place these lights in a bright, sunny area, so your lights can stay illuminated during the night.[15]
  • Solar lights operate best when their batteries can soak up 8 hours of sunlight a day, but they can still work in less sunny areas.
  • You can buy solar lights at home improvement stores, or at online marketplaces.

Raise or lower your thermostat.

  1. Adjusting your thermostat during cold and warm weather can lower your emissions. When it’s really hot outside, turn your thermostat up 3 °F (−16 °C) higher than you normally would. Similarly, lower the thermostat by 3 °F (−16 °C) during the winter months. Believe it or not, these small adjustments can make a big impact on your carbon footprint.[16]

Lower your water heater temperature.

  1. Set your heater to 120 °F (49 °C) instead of 140 °F (60 °C). This small change can make a big difference in your carbon footprint—and chances are, you won’t even notice a change in your baths and showers. Besides just saving energy, lowering your water heater will also save you money on your bill.[17]

Do your laundry with cold water.

  1. Cold water creates less emissions than warm or hot water. If you do around 2 loads of wash each week on a cold water setting, you can actually reduce your annual carbon dioxide emissions by up to 500 lb (230 kg).[18]

Switch to a low-flow showerhead.

  1. Low-flow showerheads lower your carbon dioxide emissions.[19] Stop by your local home improvement store and see what kinds of models are available. Once you make the switch, you might save up to 350 lb (160 kg) of carbon dioxide overall.[20]
  • Taking short showers is another great way to lower your carbon footprint.

Get less at the grocery store.

  1. Only buy what you need when you go food shopping. Plan ahead for the coming days and weeks, so you have a rough idea of how much food you’ll need. Then, check your refrigerator to see which ingredients you already have on hand, so you don’t buy something extra by mistake. Reducing your food waste is a great way to lower your carbon footprint overall—plus, you’ll save money in the process![21]
  • Don’t throw out your extra ingredients if you end up buying too much. Instead, freeze them for a later meal.
  • In the United States, the average household actually wastes about 40% of their food.

Try out a plant-based diet.

  1. Meat-based diets aren’t great for the environment. Cows, which make up the red meat industry, create a lot of methane emissions. Instead, think about making the switch to a vegetarian or pescatarian diet. If you really want to lower your carbon footprint, give the vegan diet a try.[22]
  • A pescatarian diet is where you cut out meat, but still eat fish and seafood.[23]

Buy sustainable or recycled clothing.

  1. Believe it or not, clothing is a big source of waste. Unfortunately, a lot of clothing manufacturers don’t make high-quality, sustainable clothing. As you shop for new clothes, look for a fair trade logo on the garment, or stop by vintage or secondhand shops. If you have a lot of unwanted clothes, donate or repurpose them instead of tossing them out.[24]
  • Shopping for clothes sustainably can help lower your carbon footprint overall.

Drive your car less.

  1. Biking, walking, and using public transit are great alternatives to driving. Unfortunately, cars are responsible for a lot of greenhouse emissions. If you can, look for ways you can travel on foot or by bike.[25] Grabbing a ride on a train or even carpooling with friends are other great ways to reduce your carbon footprint.[26]
  • If you’re on the market for a new car, consider switching to a hybrid or electric vehicle. If you live in the US, look for “SmartWay” vehicles, which are endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).[27]

Maintain your car.

  1. The way you drive your car can increase or decrease your carbon footprint. When you hit the brakes or gas pedal really quickly, you end up wasting fuel and decreasing your car’s mileage. Instead, do your best to drive carefully and within the speed limit. Additionally, get your car inspected regularly—this can help boost both your mileage and fuel economy.[28]

Fly less often.

  1. Air travel creates a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. If you fly pretty frequently, look for nonstop flights instead of routes with a lot of layovers, as jets create more emissions when they’re taking off and touching down. While you’re at it, purchase an economy ticket instead of flying business class, which is more environmentally friendly.[29]
  • A small economy seat only makes up a fraction of an airplane’s total emissions, while a first-class seat makes up a larger percentage.

Invest in energy-efficient appliances.

  1. Shop for appliances with an Energy Star label. The Energy Star label helps you identify the most energy-efficient appliances on the market. All kinds of appliances, like air conditioners, water heaters, freezers, furnaces, and refrigerators, can come with this label. While they’re a bit pricier up front, Energy Star appliances will actually save you money in the long run.[30]

Contact your government representative.

  1. Invite your kids to design a postcard, drawing, or letter. Explain the basics of climate change to your children, and what the government can do to help. Then, let your kids unleash their creativity through postcards, sketches, and handwritten notes, where they can ask the government to address climate change in the community. Mail everything to your local mayor or government representative. Even if you don’t hear back, remind your kiddos that they’re making a difference![31]
  • You could invite your kids to draw a picture of the Earth, or sketch pictures of nature and wildlife.

Purchase a carbon offset.

  1. You can neutralize your carbon footprint making a purchase to offset your carbon emissions.
  2. Carbonfund offers carbon offset options for your vehicle, home, air travel and more.


Article Summary

You can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by making some simple lifestyle changes. Start by recycling if you’re not already. Keep your recyclables, like plastic and paper, separate from your regular trash. Arrange to have your recycling picked up separately from your trash, or take it to a recycling plant near you whenever your bin fills up. To conserve energy, you can replace any incandescent light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent bulbs, as they’re more energy efficient. Next time you’re shopping for a new appliance, like a fridge or dishwasher, look for one that’s energy efficient to help lower your energy consumption. Keep the heat and air conditioning off as much as possible since that will save energy too. To cut back your gas emissions, try to drive less when you’re on the go. Taking the bus or train or riding your bike are more efficient. Consider cutting back on how much meat you eat as well since the meat industry produces a lot of greenhouse gases. Finally, always take reusable bags whenever you go out shopping, which are much better for the environment than plastic bags. For more ways you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, like unplugging appliances and making food from scratch, keep reading!



  • Vote for government officials who support green policies.[32]
  • Bring reusable shopping bags with you whenever you head to the store.[33]
  • Consider switching your home to a renewable energy source, like solar or wind energy.[34]
  • If you have the option, watch movies on a smart TV instead of a game console, as smart TVs use a lot less energy.[35]
  • Plant a tree in your backyard. Once it’s fully-grown, a tree can soak up to 1 ton of carbon dioxide in its lifespan.[36]



  • Don’t set your refrigerator or freezer lower than you need to. The United States Department of Energy suggests leaving your refrigerator between 35 and 38 °F (2 and 3 °C), and your freezer around 0 °F (−18 °C).[37]



  2. Home Energy Assessments | Department of Energy
  4. Kathryn Kellogg. Sustainability Specialist. Expert Interview. 28 June 2019.
  7. Kathryn Kellogg. Sustainability Specialist. Expert Interview. 28 June 2019.
  12. Kathryn Kellogg. Sustainability Specialist. Expert Interview. 28 June 2019.
  19. Kathryn Kellogg. Sustainability Specialist. Expert Interview. 28 June 2019.
  25. Kathryn Kellogg. Sustainability Specialist. Expert Interview. 28 June 2019.
  36. Home Energy Assessments | Department of Energy