A very effective way to help reduce carbon emissions while also saving some money, is to purchase Energy Star rated appliances. The Energy Star program is a voluntary program run by the EPA, which awards the Energy Star certification to appliances and other products that meet certain EPA criteria for energy efficiency. Here is a quote taken directly from the Energy Star website:
"Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy in 2006 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 25 million cars — all while saving $14 billion on their utility bills."Now that's what I call major environmental impact, with a healthy dose of "save yer money". To take advantage of this excellent program all you need to do is check the Energy Star website before you purchase your next appliance, renovate your home, or install a new traffic light... seriously, they have Energy Star certifications for those as well.
One more word of advice: when you do get that Energy Star rated appliance, be sure to use it at off peak hours (such as late evening). For one thing, some utility companies charge their customers variable rates for using electricity depending on the time of day when the power is used. However, if you want to help reduce carbon emissions, the real reason to use appliances at off-peak hours is that the energy you use is cleaner...
How can that be? Very simple. Newer, less polluting power sources are typically also cheaper to operate. At off-peak hours, those are typically enough to address all the demand for power. However, at peak demand those cleaner power sources are not sufficient, and more polluting and expensive power plants are brought online to supplement power production. This means that running your washing machine or air conditioner during peak demand hours causes more pollution than running them during off-peak times.
The Energy Star program gives consumers an excellent opportunity to do the right thing, while also making money. How can you go wrong?