Ale Asylum solar panels

Marc Nienhaus, an electrician with Faith Technologies, installs solar panels on the rooftop at Ale Asylum in Madison in 2014. Solar panels can be pricey when installed, but they reduce carbon emissions over time and tax incentives can help bear the burden of installation.

Q: What are ways I can reduce my carbon footprint other than driving my car less?

A: There are many ways to reduce harmful carbon emissions that lead to climate change, according to the National Parks Service. Some of the options can be expensive at the outset but save money over time, while others can save you money right at the start.

Solar panels can be expensive to buy and install but greatly reduce dependence on coal, natural gas and other polluting energy sources. The cost can be offset by tax incentives, which can be found on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website

Tankless water heaters can reduce energy use as well by warming only as much water as needed, the Parks Service said. They cost about $800 more than a regular heater but can save the user about $20 each month on electric bills.

Changes in your thermostat can be an easier and also cost-saving way to reduce emissions.

“Turning your thermostat down 3 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and up 3 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 1,050 points per year,” the National Parks Service said.

Changing these temperatures can reduce your monthly energy bill by giving your heater and air conditioner a break.

You can give your clothes dryer a break as well to reduce emissions. Hanging clothes to dry requires no electricity or natural gas.

One change that could be difficult for you, depending on your lifestyle, is time spent on electronics that heavily consume electricity. Turn off computers when you’re away from them for more than 10 minutes, and turn off your television when not watching.

“Reduce the amount of time spent aimlessly surfing the web. Reduce the amount of time you watch television and read a book (instead),” the Parks Service said.

— Shelley K. Mesch

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Shelley K. Mesch is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She earned a degree in journalism from DePaul University.

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