I wouldn't exactly call it a beach read, but Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living, a new green guide from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), is certainly worth a look. Based on a comprehensive two-year study, it contains tons of advice on how some small lifestyle changes can benefit the health of the environment and your bank account.
We Americans emit some 21 tons of carbon dioxide every year, which is four times(!) the global average emissions per person. For this study, UCS experts analyzed 500 different categories of U.S. consumer actions. We've heard a few of these things before, but not with this kind of authoritative research behind it. Below are just a few of the tips dispensed:
1. Drive a more fuel-efficient car.
Upgrading from a 20 MPG to a 40 MPG model can save you 4,500 gallons of gas in the end.
Savings: $18,000 over the car's lifespan
2. Switch to LED bulbs.
They can give off the same light for 15 percent of the electricity.
Savings: $100 a year
3. Wash clothes in cold water.
Hot water uses five times the energy, and today's detergents work just as well in cold temperatures.
Savings: nearly $100 a year
4. Use power strips.
You can curb "phantom loads" and reduce your electrical bill considerably.
Savings: varies per household, but even just using a strip for your printer could save you $130 annually
5. Seal those cracks.
Air leaks may account for 15 to 25 percent of our heating and cooling.
Savings: if you pay $1,100 a year to heat and cool your home, you could save as much as $275