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Stop These 3 Bad Habits to Save Energy and Reduce Carbon Emissions

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

Bad habit: a repeated behavior with negative effects.

We all have bad habits in our lives, whether they’re procrastination, nail biting, sleeping late, or binge eating. Bad habits affect not only you, but the environment.

A common bad habit that most people have is wasting excessive amounts of clean water. Taking longer showers, keeping the faucet running when you’re brushing your teeth, and flushing things down the toilet that could’ve been thrown out are all examples of bad habits that severely deplete the Earth’s precious freshwater reserve.

In this blog, we will explore 3 bad habits you can stop to prevent energy loss and excessive carbon emissions.


1. Dressing Unseasonably

We all know one person who wears hoodies in the summer and shorts in the winter. While this may seem like a harmless, even comical practice, it can have severe environmental repercussions.

People who wear hoodies in the summer turn up the air conditioning until they are comfortable in their clothing. People who wear shorts in the winter turn up the heat until they’re nice and warm.

While dressing unseasonably may seem amusing, it contributes to one of the largest concerns of the environmental community —energy loss. The more we use our heating and air conditioning systems, the more energy we use.

To produce energy to heat or cool our homes, fossil fuels are burned and emit carbon dioxide and other harmful air pollutants into the atmosphere. Air conditioning releases 1,950 million tons of carbon dioxide annually (about 3.94% of global greenhouse gas emissions), and home heating systems are responsible for 10,000 deaths within the US annually.

Energy loss and the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere already have catastrophic consequences. Dressing warmer is a very easy way to prevent these things from occurring and keep our environment healthy.

The next time you think about wearing shorts in winter or hoodies in summer, think about the effects your clothing choices can have on the environment. Dress for the season with a nice pair of cozy socks and a warm sweater in the winter, or with a tank top and shorts in the summer. In doing so, you will reduce your energy usage, and in the process, reduce your power bill.

2. Carelessness

We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling on our way out of the house when we realize we left the bathroom light on or left the patio door wide open. There’s nothing you can do about it in the moment because you’re on your way to an important appointment or meeting.

With technology as advanced as it is in the present, it’s easy to forget to flick off a light switch. However, since lighting accounts for an astonishing 25%–30% of an electricity bill, flicking off that switch when leaving a room will save you a great deal of money with the added benefit of helping the environment.

You may ask, how does leaving the lights on have any impact on our environment? The majority of electricity that runs through your lightbulbs at home is generated by coal-fueled power stations. Coal is a fossil fuel, meaning when you burn coal, greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Heating and air conditioning systems are also powered in this way.

In most homes, the air conditioning or heating system is on at all times. These systems work to bring your home to a temperature set by the homeowner. Many people tend to leave their bedroom windows open on summer nights in order to keep their rooms at a comfortable temperature. Some early risers will leave the back door open for a couple of hours to let cool morning air into their homes.

Leaving a door or window open allows outside air into your home which makes it more difficult for air conditioning or heating systems to regulate the temperature of your home. In doing so, these systems use more electricity, burn more fossil fuels, and are not functioning as efficiently as they have the potential to.

Closing your doors and windows when the air conditioning or heating systems are on is a great way to optimize your energy usage. By doing this, the air temperature you set for your home will be reached more efficiently, and less electricity will be utilized in the process.

The best part is, not only are you helping the environment, but you’re saving yourself money. Air temperature regulation systems are highly expensive without us wasting it. In New York, running the air conditioning in your home for a month straight costs about $100; that’s $1200 per year!

3. Weekly Errands

Over the course of a week, people run countless errands. We visit the local supermarket to pick up groceries, the laundromat to do our laundry, the post office to mail a gift to a friend, and the cafe to pick up our morning coffee. All in all, everyone has many small errands to do throughout the week.

Most people have a set schedule for when they want to get their errands done such as Grocery Monday or Laundry Wednesday. However, most towns have a central area where all of their stores, shops, and restaurants are located, all within walking range of each other.

To save yourself from having the make the trip into town multiple times every week, try carving out 2–3 hours of your time to run all of your errands for the week on ONE day. Instead of Grocery Monday or Laundry Wednesday, have an errand Tuesday. You will not only be reducing your personal carbon footprint, but saving a large amount of money on gas.

Studies found that the closest grocery store to most homes averages 2.14 miles away. With gas prices at $4.54 per gallon in New York and the average vehicle’s miles per gallon at 25.4 MPG, we can conclude that a 4 mile trip to the grocery store and back would cost about 72 cents.

By doing all weekly errands at once, about 72 cents will be spent on gas total instead of multiple trips that will double, triple, or even quadruple the money spent on gas in a week for errands. This is both beneficial to the person running errands and to the environment as less gas is being used.

When you’re running these errands, be sure to turn your car off. Studies show that idling and leaving the car in park can use as much as 1/2 gallon of gas per hour. This 1/2 gallon of gas could be used to drive 12.7 miles. That’s enough to make the approximately 4 mile trip to town and back 3 times in one week. Leaving the car on would completely diminish the effectiveness of Errand Tuesday.

There’s also the added benefit of your car lasting longer. Leaving a car in park for extended periods of time has been known to damage cars over time. Not turning off the car may seem like a small thing, but it harms the environment and wastes our precious fossil fuels.



This blog has taught you how to break 3 bad habits that are contributing to the environmental decline we are currently witnessing. Energy loss and greenhouse gas emissions are issues that need to be taken seriously if we want to save our world.

Try breaking these habits one by one. When winter comes around, wear a sweater instead of turning up the heat. Set reminders on your phone to turn off the lights and close the windows before you leave the house for the day. Pick a day to get all of your errands done each week.

By creating new habits, we are building healthy and positive relationships with the environment and improving our world.

Share this blog and with your friends and family to help us work towards a healthier Earth. Stay updated and active by following the Environmental Defense Initiative on Medium and our social media platforms!

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