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Reduce Carbon Footprints

You may be wondering, "What is a carbon footprint?" It is a measure of the impact a person has on the environment in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by their daily activities. It is measured in units of carbon dioxide. It includes activities such as heating and air-conditioning a home, turning on a light, powering appliances and electronics, driving a car, or taking an airline flight.

Of course, most (if not all) of these activities seem both obvious and only minimally alterable. Let's face it - encouraging people to do away with air conditioning would be an awfully tough sell. So here are some tips for designers to do their part in creating a greener future, while helping their clients conserve in the present.

Heating and Air-Conditioning - Using window film can reduce the amount of incoming solar radiation, keeping air-conditioning costs down. Window film also protects furniture, window treatments, artwork, flooring and people from harmful UV-A rays. Blackout linings, draperies and solar shades can block incoming solar radiation to keep air-conditioning costs down. On the other side, they can prevent heat from escaping, which in turn can keep heating costs down.

Lighting and Power Concerns - Strategic placement of light fixtures and lamps can cut lighting costs through reduced need. If you can provide adequate light with one lamp, why have two on? Knowing which light fixtures get the most use will help decide which lighting solutions will best suit each client's lighting and energy conservation needs. Look for the energy Star on appliances, electronics, light fixtures and light bulbs. Save yourself money and protect the environment at the same time.

Learn about compact fluorescent light bulbs and LED light bulbs. Encourage their use. Know what appliances and electronics are secretly sucking up energy, even when they are off. Make your outlets and power strips readily accessible without being an eyesore.

Reduce the Size of Carbon Footprint - Simple design elements especially window coverings, can help conserve energy. You can make your lifestyle changes, calculate your carbon footprints, and even buy carbon offset credits from emission reduction projects. Being aware of the carbon footprints we leave is the first step toward a green and bright future.

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Barbara Jennings is author of 10 decorating books: Decor Secrets Revealed, Rearrange It, Home Staging for Profit, Home Staging for Yourself, Arrange Your Stuff, Advanced Redesign, Pro Art Consulting, Where There's a Wall - There's a Way, The Art of Hanging Art, Great Parties! Great Homes!

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