Energy and the Environment

Light Bulb

When I go home for winter break, I’ll be headed to New Jersey--and into another fight with my parents. I feel very, very strongly about environmental conservation. And I’m not thrilled with the way my parents keep their home. It’s a very comfortable home, don’t get me wrong! In fact, it’s too comfortable. My parents run the heat all the time, and while it’s always toasty, I’m horrified by their energy consumption. When I first became interested in environmentalism, they let me take a look at their energy bill, and I was horrified! Since then, we’ve all spent every winter break changing the thermostat whenever the others aren’t looking. It’s war! How can I help my parents see that what they’re doing is terrible for the environment?

You’re right that the energy Americans use to heat their homes is costing the environment. Americans waste 283 kilowatt hours of energy every month, and our energy habits play a huge role in global warming.

But you do not own your parents’ home, and you are not in charge of their thermostat. Perhaps it’s time to stop adjusting the temperature without their permission and to instead focus on some other strategies for getting them to help out Mother Nature.

To that end, your idea of showing your parents the impact of their actions is a good one--and certainly a better option than wrestling with them over the thermostat. Take a diplomatic tone when you tell them, but do point out the statistics mentioned above. American energy waste is harming the earth.

And one word there is key: “waste.” Your parents don’t necessarily have to live in the New Jersey cold to make a difference. It may be that their current heating setup is not as efficient as it could be.

Regular HVAC maintenance, industry leaders say, is key to an efficient and well-performing system. Failing to change filters or make small necessary repairs can hurt your system’s ability to do its job--and if it does manage to do it anyway, it may expend more energy in doing so. That’s a blow to the environment and to your parents’ pocketbook!

It’s not just the HVAC system itself that can be at fault for energy losses. It’s easy to lose energy through doors, windows, walls, attics, and roofs, too! Poor insulation can allow your parents’ comfortable air to get away. New windows and doors that seal out the cold, a better insulated attic, and even new siding, developers say, could keep that cord New Jersey air out and all of that warm inside air in--meaning less work for your parents’ HVAC system and less energy usage to harm the planet you care so much about.

We can’t all live in complete harmony with nature, but there are things that we each can do to make the world a little better for our children and our children’s children. Your parents may be able to take steps to cut down on their energy usage, including making improvements to their home (and, yes, too their habits--experts recommend turning down the thermostat when you go to sleep, for instance). Remember, though, that convincing them to make changes requires a bit of tact--and accepting their final decision may require a bit of compromise. Practice your political skills and achieve your goals with a little kindness and reasoned debate, and go easy on your parents: after all, they’ve already done our planet a favor by raising an environmentally conscious person like you.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -- Margaret Mead


UTA Radio on Facebook

Twitter Feed

UTA News