Electricity and GHGs

Hello everyone! Today, we’ll be taking a look at the electricity sector and its impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) production. This sector is the 2nd largest GHG producer in the USA, accounting for about a quarter of the nation’s emissions, which is quite a large number if you ask me!

You may be wondering, why does electricity emit GHGS? Unfortunately, electricity nowadays is produced by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas. These processes are not only speeding up climate change by releasing GHGs, but they are also unsustainable as fossil fuels are nonrenewable energy sources, and thus they are unreliable resources to depend on. (To learn more about these, check out my blog post about them). According to the EPA, coal accounts for a whopping 61% of the GHG emissions from the sector, which makes sense since coal is primarily used as a fossil fuel due to its abundance and ease of accessibility.

Electricity is used in a variety of other sectors. The largest subsector is, surprisingly, commercial and residential use at 31%, followed by industry at 30%, transportation at 29%, and agriculture at 11%. Luckily (or unfortunately? Either works.), we, as residents, directly impact the largest subsector, which means that if we actively work to improve the amount of our residential emissions, then we can make some serious progress on bringing down the entire sector’s as well. Doesn’t that sound great? I hope it does. If you’re feeling inspired by this, here are some ways you can start reducing your household’s GHG emissions. 

  • Invest in renewable energy sources (e.g. solar panels) as not only are they sustainable energy sources, but also significantly reduce GHG emissions while still being a reliable energy source.
  • Be more efficient in the way you use your devices, so that you minimize the overall GHG emissions from them. For example, try not to aimlessly surf the web or leave your phone display on when you stop using it (many don’t turn off until about 30 seconds after they detect that you’ve stopped looking at it). It might not seem like much, but a little goes a very long way.
  • This relates to the last one, but make sure to unplug / shut down chargers and devices if they will not be used for over 10 minutes.
  • Be more efficient with your laundry and dishes; only run the machines when they are full and, if possible, use less hot water (producing heat emits extra GHGs).
  • You can use tankless water heaters, which effectively warm up just the right amount of water you need to avoid extra emissions.
  • Be mindful about the temperature your house (thermostat) is set at, as a difference of simply a degree can have a large impact on emissions.
  • When shopping for appliances / devices, look for the Energy Star symbol. That indicates that the product uses the most up-to-date and efficient technology, which further reduces emissions.

Well, that’s all for today! I hope you enjoyed this post, learned something new, and will try one of these practices out for yourselves! See you all next time!

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