In August, my wife and I moved from our house in the suburbs of Philadelphia to the wild streets of New York City. We did it for two reasons. One, our youngest is in college now and we didn’t need as much space. Two, we were bored to death living in the ‘burbs and longed for the big city, where we met back in 1981 and lived before our kids were born.
It wasn’t until after we moved that I realized there was a third reason—we dramatically lowered our carbon footprint.
Our 1890s-era, three-story Victorian house was pretty to look at, but it was an energy hog. I replaced the windows, but they still leaked heat in the winter and cold in the summer. The rooms were poorly insulated. Even if they hadn’t been, a single-family house simply gobbles up more energy than an apartment, where you share walls with other apartments. According to The Department of Energy, apartments use about half as much energy as freestanding houses.
Now we live in a little two-bedroom apartment in across the street from Central Park, which has essentially become my office. We don’t have central air conditioning anymore. We have three new energy-efficient units that I can turn on and off to cool individual rooms as needed. I always thought it was crazy to cool off the whole house when often we would be using just one room.
We also drive a lot less now. We got rid of our gas guzzling minivan, and we rarely use our little Honda Civic. Mostly, I ride my bike or take the subway everywhere in the city. When I have a school visit outside of New York, I take a train or bus and somebody picks me up at the station. Switching to public transportation, I’ve learned, can reduce your daily carbon emissions by more than 4,800 pounds annually—that’s more than you can save by weatherizing your home and using energy efficient light bulbs and appliances combined.
So I feel pretty good about lowering my carbon footprint. On the other hand, we sold our house to a family that moved from a little apartment in Philadelphia to our three story energy-hog in the suburbs. This being green stuff is hard to do! But I’m doing everything I can.
Dan Gutman is the author of over 120 books, including the My Weird School series, The Genius Files series, and the Baseball Card Adventure series. You can visit his web site at www.dangutman.com, check out his Facebook fan page, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter @dangutmanbooks.