How to cut your carbon footprint

Austin is green and we all want to keep it that way! Commit to taking action to reduce your carbon footprint and help ensure a safe, healthy, vibrant Austin for many years to come.

Beginner actions

  • Ditch the plastic water bottles. Invest in a reusable water bottle. You’ll save money and the environment.
  • Use cold water for laundry and do your laundry in full loads. This will decrease the amount of water and energy used. 
  • Drive efficiently. Use the accelerator lightly, coast to red lights, stay near the speed limit, and go inside instead of idling in parking lots or drive thrus.
  • Incorporate active travel (walking or biking) to once or twice daily. Walking one mile takes only about 20 minutes! 
  • Set your thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer and 67 degrees in the winter. Be sure to turn off the heat and air conditioning when you’re not at home.
  • Recycle and reuse. Keep stuff out of the landfill and reduce emissions that come from methane. 
  • Keep tires properly inflated. When tire pressure is low, cars have to work harder and burn more gas.
  • Eat more locally grown food. Taste the difference, feel better and support the Austin economy!
  • Turn off lights and unplug devices.

Intermediate actions

Already doing everything on the beginner list? Up your efforts by taking these ten intermediate actions to further reduce your carbon footprint! 

  • Commit to riding the bus to work at least one day a week. Downloading the Capital Metro mobile appopen_in_new makes it easy. Use the app for tickets, schedules, maps and real-time arrival information.
  • Replace your light bulbs with LEDs. LEDs use up to 90% less energy and last 10 to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs (and five times longer than compact florescent bulbs). Save money on your energy bill and receive an Austin Energy rebate for your LED purchasesopen_in_new – that’s a win-win!
  • Start composting at home. Let nature recycle your coffee grounds, food scraps, and yard waste into fertilizer for your garden, lawn, or flower beds. Austin Resource Recovery offers classes and rebatesopen_in_new to get you started.
  • Sign up for the GreenChoice program. Be a wind fan. Choosing Austin Energy’s GreenChoiceopen_in_new for your electricity adds clean energy to the grid every day with 100% renewable Texas wind.
  • Choose a greener car. If it’s time to trade in that clunker, look for a car that’s electric or a hybrid, uses alternative fuel, or is highly fuel efficient. AAA Texas offers a free guideopen_in_new to help you choose the car that will work best for you AND reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Weatherize your home. Work with a qualified Energy Professional to inspect and test attic insulation, ductwork, heating and cooling equipment, weather stripping, plumbing penetrations, and windows. Identifying and fixing any problems will lower your monthly energy expenses, and rebates and loans can help with making the improvementsopen_in_new.
  • Organize a neighborhood sharing / swapping pool. Your trash might be someone else’s treasure. Give the things you no longer use a new home instead of sending them to the landfill.
  • Use less water. Energy is needed to treat and process the water we use everyday. Saving water uses less energy, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Track your water usage and be WaterWiseopen_in_new – Austin Water offers rebatesopen_in_new to help.
  • Take the slow road. Why drive to Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio when you can take the bus or train instead? Free wifi, dining and lounge options, and seats with ample leg room are available on Amtrakopen_in_new, Megabusopen_in_new or Greyhoundopen_in_new for what you’d pay for gas to drive – and with none of the traffic headaches.
  • Upcycle + Reuse. Get creative. Make something new from something old that is functional or beautiful or BOTH! Need inspiration or some quick how-to’s? Check out the Upcycle Thatopen_in_new web site for tips and tricks to give used items new life, and then visit Austin Creative Reuseopen_in_new to stock up on crafting supplies.

Advanced actions

If you're already doing all the items on the beginner and intermediate levels, then you're definitely ready to tackle these advanced carbon reducing actions. 

  • Become an EnergyStar superstar. Time to upgrade that fridge or dishwasher? Looking for a new TV or DVD player? Choosing appliances or electronics that are Energy Star-ratedopen_in_new will lower your energy bill and your carbon footprint. 
  • If your air conditioning system is more than 10 years old, replace it with a more efficient one; newer models use up to 40% less energy. Austin Energy offers rebatesopen_in_new for a variety of heating and cooling system options.
  • Installing rooftop solar panels to your home adds clean, renewable energy to the power grid – and you can get a credit on your electricity bill for the power that’s generated. Austin Energy offers solar incentivesopen_in_new to help you get started.
  • The cost of owning a car can entail up to 1/3 of the average household budget. Think about all the trips you take and what alternative options are available. Between public transit, car share programs, and plain old biking and walking, you may not need that clunker after all.
  • Neutralize the climate impacts associated with travel by purchasing carbon offsets. Paying an additional $5 to $25 will cover the emissions created from most trips, and the money will go toward carbon-capture or reduction projects that support green business, job creation and biodiversity. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has partnered with The Good Traveleropen_in_new for carbon offset purchases.
  • Plants and trees that are native to Central Texasopen_in_new require less water (and therefore, less energy) to maintain. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, replacing turf grass with native plant beds could make you eligible for a WaterWise rebateopen_in_new. Forget about mowing and Grow Green!
  • Buy used most of the time. For a fraction of the cost of buying new things, purchasing secondhand items requires no raw materials for production, no energy costs for manufacturing, and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills.
  • Eat mostly plants. 1,850 gallons of water are required to produce one pound of meat; only 39 are needed for one pound of vegetables. The production of meat also results in 30 times more greenhouse gas emissions than vegetables. Go meatless whenever you can.
  • Get a programmable thermostat. Heat and cool your home with an internet-connected thermostat and receive a rebate from Austin Energyopen_in_new. These nifty devices give you control over your home’s temperature from any location, save you money, and reduce the risk of power outages for everyone during peak demand periods.

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