According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, carbon emissions are expected to increase dramatically throughout 2021 and 2022. This despite the fact that carbon emissions account for nearly 80% of all greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere.

Environmentally friendly options for everything from household appliances to global transportation are cheaper and more widely available than ever. So why are people still struggling to reduce their carbon footprint at home? In some cases, it might be because they don’t know the best ways to do that.

Here, then, are 6 helpful tips we can all use to cut down on energy waste:

1. Recycle E-Waste Correctly

There’s a reason Newtech Recycling and other IT equipment recycling companies have made it their mission to help people dispose of their electronic devices responsibly. With nearly 10 million tons of unwanted tech discarded annually—including computers, mobile phones, photocopiers, televisions, and more—e-waste is one of the biggest environmental hazards of the modern age.

Why is that? First, it’s because of the components that are used in the manufacture of these devices. Many people don’t realize that the technology they use every day contains such toxic substances as polybrominated diphenyl ethers and polybrominated biphenyls, common flame retardants with harmful carbon emissions. The other big problem with e-waste is how a lot of people get rid of it, namely by throwing it in landfills instead of recycling it correctly.

2. Conserve Water Usage

One simple way that anyone can reduce their carbon footprint at home is to conserve their water usage. Often, the effects of water waste on the environment go overlooked, but the impact is considerable. Pumping, treating, and heating water uses up 3% of America’s energy production each year, with the bulk of that energy coming from fossil fuels.

Silvia Borges with EnviroMom told us how easy it is to start conserving water. “When I decided to start living a greener life, I started with water conservation since it sounded easiest and most seamless of changes. Tiny adjustments to our daily routines can save dozens of gallons of water per person every month.”

Considering that a toilet flush can waste up to 7 gallons of water, that’s a lot of precious power down the toilet, literally. To cut back on excess water use, avoid taking long showers, flushing tissues and other items down the toilet, and leaving the faucet running when washing dishes, shaving, or brushing your teeth.

3. Try Energy-Efficient Appliances

As the importance of environmental preservation becomes a bigger part of the public consciousness, attempts have been made to promote energy efficiency in a multitude of ways. Some of these ways may seem very small, but even small steps can add up to something big over time.

A good example of this idea is the proliferation of energy-efficient appliances that are currently available. Though usually comparable in price to less energy-efficient versions, eco-friendly LED lightbulbs, refrigerators, and washing machines require a lot less power to function. This, in turn, has a bonus advantage: lowering your monthly utility bills.

4. Use Renewable Energy

One of the biggest contributors to global climate change remains fossil fuel usage, with an estimated 81% of all energy in America coming from oil, coal, and natural gas. Aside from the damage that these energy sources do to the environment on their own, they also require a lot of labor and environmental destruction to produce and transport. Add to this the fact that fossil fuels are finite and gradually depleting, and the necessity for sustainable energy alternatives becomes apparent.

In that sense, switching to renewable energy sources like solar power and wind turbines isn’t just a way of reducing greenhouse gases; it’s also a vital step in ensuring humanity’s future. Consider signing up for an energy-saving utility program, joining a community solar farm, or even installing solar panels on your roof.

5. Travel More Conservatively

Everyone knows that automobiles are one of the guiltiest culprits when it comes to carbon emissions. While advances have been made in forms of transportations that use other fuel sources, not everyone has access to such cutting-edge vehicles. One thing we all have access to, however, is good judgment.

Simply put, you don’t have to drive a brand new, top-of-the-line hybrid automobile to travel more in a more ecologically friendly way. You don’t even have to get rid of your car. You just have to plan out how much you use it. Instead of driving to the store every time you need a carton of milk or taking your car for short trips to your friend’s house two blocks over, try only going out when you absolutely need to. Shop for multiple items at once. Walk or carpool when you have the opportunity. 

John Murphy shared that he chooses to travel using an electric bike instead or a car. “I reduce my carbon footprint by using an electric bike for any short trips into town instead of taking the car.” Small changes like the one John made can have a very large impact on your individual carbon footprint. 

6. Upgrade Less Often

We all love the technology that makes our lives easier: phones, computers, copy machines, television sets, you name it. The only thing many of us enjoy more than showing our latest gadgets off to all our friends is upgrading to a newer, better model. These days, it’s become increasingly difficult to keep up with the rapid upgrade cycle, with some devices feeling obsolete before we even take them out of the box.

The result of all this upgrading is a veritable tsunami of tech flooding stores, homes, and ultimately garbage dumps. Phone and tablet recycling can help, but increasing demand is hard to keep up with. Increased demand means a need for more precious metals like gold, lead, mercury, and aluminum, and that means more destructive mining. If reducing your carbon footprint at home is important to you, hold out a little longer before buying that new flatscreen TV or switching to the latest iPhone.