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by Asuka Spangler, JOUR 3000

 

Being mindful of energy consumption will not only help the pocketbook, but will help the environment.

According to the Sierra Club Hawai‘i Web site, the average Hawai‘i resident contributes 18 tons of carbon dioxide a year to the atmosphere. In comparison, Japan residents average about nine tons per person and the Swedes, six tons.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reflects from the sun. Too much carbon dioxide and infrared radiation that would normally be reflected back into space gets trapped in the atmosphere, causing it to retain heat. This is why carbon dioxide is called a greenhouse gas; its growing presence in the atmosphere together with methane and several other gases, is a cause of global warming, which is on the verge of irrevocably changing our climate.

Many scientists consider global warming a worldwide threat. As temperatures continue to rise, arctic tundra melts, releasing more greenhouse gases and causing temperatures to rise even further. Polar ice caps melt, storm patterns become more severe, and animals and plants around the globe are affected by drastic climate and seasonal changes.

For every kilowatt hour of electricity (15.69 cents on O‘ahu), an average of 1.8 pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. Every gallon of gasoline burned (about $3.29 on O‘ahu, August 2006) emits an average of 19.4 pounds. Fortunately, some of these emissions are unnecessary and can be eliminated with a little change of lifestyle.

Turn things off when you’re not using them, said Jan TenBruggencate, Honolulu Advertiser environmental writer. “Keep in mind that anything that has a motor or makes heat uses a lot of power. Minimize their use,” he added.

Knowing how to save a little energy every day can have a big result.

Energy efficient light bulbs

According to Global Warming: What you need to know with Tom Brokaw, Americans contribute to the atmosphere more than seven billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Research suggests that if every American replaced one light bulb in their homes with an energy-efficient florescent bulb, the amount of carbon dioxide not released would be equivalent to one million cars taken off the road.

If every resident in Hawai‘i took a ton of carbon dioxide a year off his or her lifestyle, it would reduce the state’s carbon dioxide output by more than 229 million tons (1,275,194 Hawai‘i residents in 2005 (infoplease.com). Here are a few ways to save:

Residents who replace seven 100-watt light bulbs with 15-watt compact fluorescent bulbs will save $163 on their electric bill, annually, and reduce their personal carbon dioxide output by one ton.
Other easy ways to reduce carbon dioxide:

Use a clothesline instead of a dryer. This can save $200 annually and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by another ton.

Skip a trip to the West Coast. This can save the cost of a round-trip ticket and one ton carbon dioxide emissions.

Plant 40 trees. This will absorb one ton.

Recycle 2500 aluminum cans, 3000 bottles, or 500 pounds of paper. This saves one ton, and you can re-pocket $125 for the aluminum cans or $150 for the bottles by taking advantage of HI-5. (Source: www.hi.sierraclub.org)

By changing a few activities, a household can save more than $838 a year.

“ Riding the bus is efficient, (and) using microwave ovens can save a lot of energy too,” said Steven Alber, energy planner at the State Energy Office.

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