Do you know what your carbon footprint is? As the debate over climate change rages on, the phrase “carbon footprint” is more prevalent than ever before.

Put simply, a carbon footprint is a way of quantifying the amount of carbon dioxide and other types of greenhouse gases released when burning fossil fuels. Every time you drive your car, you’re burning gasoline and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, adding to your carbon footprint and contributing to the warming of the planet through the greenhouse effect.

You can ascribe a carbon footprint to all activities that involves the burning of fossil fuels. For instance, the carbon footprint of a cup of coffee can be calculated by examining the process of growing, harvesting, processing and transporting coffee beans, as well as how much electricity is used when brewing the coffee. Even the way you take your coffee can drastically change its carbon footprint; a cup of black coffee has a footprint that’s just 6 percent of the carbon footprint of a large latte.

There are countless changes you can make to be more eco-friendly. Going green doesn’t have to be expensive or inconvenient. We’ve put together a few ways you can reduce your carbon footprint.

Monitor the energy use in your home

Many utility companies have tools on their websites that allow customers to review their electricity usage in real time, so you can quickly see how changes in behavior, such as turning lights off and unplugging appliances, can add up to a significant reduction in energy usage. Taking shorter showers, washing your clothes in cold water, using a clothesline instead of a clothes dryer, and handwashing dishes instead of using a dishwasher are simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

As your appliances wear out and need replacing, research the energy efficiency of newer models to make sure you aren’t buying another energy hog. All appliances have an Energy Star rating that will let you easily see how efficient they are. As your old lightbulbs burn out, replacing them with LED bulbs will reduce your utility bill and carbon footprint.

Watch what you eat

Everything you eat has a carbon footprint, some considerably higher than others. So-called “carbon-intensive foods” include meat, dairy, and orange juice, all of which require immense releases of greenhouse gases to produce, transport and store.

Between 2005 and 2014, Americans reduced their individual carbon footprints by almost 9 percent as a result of making changes in their diets. Researching where your food comes from and how it is produced can help you make better-informed decisions come dinnertime. Eating less meat and dairy and purchasing local, in-season produce can shrink your carbon footprint.

Calculate your carbon footprint

Using a carbon footprint calculator is a great way to track your progress as you change your energy usage. Consider doing this every few months as you make changes in your life. Not only is it good for your wallet, it’s good for the planet.

TerraSol Energies is committed to helping you reduce your carbon footprint at your home or business in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Contact us today for a free site consultation.