A warming planet can really burn consumersâ€¦financially, at least. Climate change has cost U.S. taxpayers $350 billion over the past decade, according to one report from the Government Accountability Office, and that number is expected to swell to $35 billion per year by 2050.
So which households are to blame? We have found that the carbon footprints of households in different cities varies widely, with households in the West spewing more carbon emissions than ones in urban, denser areas.
For this study, weâ€™ve defined carbon footprint as the combined total annual amount of carbon dioxide produced to support the lives of each member of a household. In other words, every time you drive your car, buy groceries or heat your home, youâ€™re adding to your householdâ€™s carbon footprint.
The study analyzes the largest 200 metros in the U.S. by population, and measures the annual average annual metric tons of CO2 emitted, per household.
Take New York City, with a population of nearly 14 million. Itâ€™s consistently ranked as one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases among U.S. cities, but this study found it has the smallest carbon footprint on an emissions per household basis.
Going green isnâ€™t just good for Mother Earth. It can actually save you some green, too. Residents in the cities with the largest carbon footprints spent significantly more money on annual transportation costs than those in cities with the smallest carbon footprints. Residents in Provo, for example, spend nearly $16,000 annually on transportation costs, according to our study. In contrast, New Yorkers spend around $10,000 annually on transportation.
Indeed, making the switch from commuting by car to public transit can result in substantial savings. A household can save $10,000 by taking public transit and living with one less car, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Itâ€™s also beneficial for the planet; the organization claims that if communities invest in public transit systems, they can cut the countryâ€™s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually.
An environmentally cleaner commute isnâ€™t the only way going green can save you money. Cutting down on the energy you use in your home can help, too. Assess how your home is using (and wasting) energy. Sealing uncontrolled air leaks, for example, can save you 10% to 20% annually on your heating and cooling bills, according to the Department of Energy, while replacing your five most-used light fixtures with bulbs that have earned ENERGY STAR status can save you 9% annually on your electric bill.
Other simple steps you can take to reel in your energy bill include regularly examining your HVAC system air filter, reducing the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees and shutting off lights when you are not using them.
There are easy ways you can cut back on the amount of money you spend on energy, while also shrinking your carbon footprint. For transportation, you can:
At home, you can:
Another way you can have a positive impact on the earth â€” while also doing yourself a favor financially â€” is taking a close look at socially-responsible investing.
MagnifyMoney analyzed 2017 data from the Center for Neighborhood Technology Housing and Transportation Index.
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