the story behind oil
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what can you do to reduce oil consumption?
We have many options to reduce our consumption of oil.
1. Reduce transportation fuel consumption. Transportation is far and away the greatest consumer of petroleum. On average, we could cut our oil consumption by buying high-efficiency cars including hybrids, by buying cars fueled with alternative fuels, or by taking public transportation. Learn more about the benefits of hybrid cars. Or, check out these pages on biodiesel, ethanol and hydrogen fuels for cars.
2. Reduce heating fuel oil consumption. If you use fuel oil to heat your home, there are many options available to reduce your heating energy needs. States with the highest residential fuel oil consumption include New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and all of the New England States18. Options for reducing heating fuel use range from buying a programmable thermostat, to upgrading the insulation of and sealing leakage from your home, to installing solar water heating systems.
3. Reduce your consumption of electricity. If you live in an area where your utility generates electricity using fuel oil, then reducing your own electrical use will reduce the amount of oil you indirectly consume. States with high levels of oil-fueled power generation include Florida, New York, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Louisiana19.
Explore projects that reduce electricity consumption.
4. Use green products that have petroleum alternatives. Many products we use on a day-to-day basis contain petroleum products, including stains, paints, and some cleaning products. To reduce or eliminate the harmful effects these products have on air and water quality, use green alternatives such as low- or zero-VOC paints that offer the same benefits without the negatives. Investigate green cleaning and decorating products
5. Offset environmental impacts by buying carbon credits or renewable energy credits, called “offsets”. What if you just can’t get rid of your SUV or truck, or what if you travel extensively by air for work? There is still an option available to you, called “carbon offset.” The basic principle behind a carbon offset is that you pay a third party to implement some project that removes the amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that you generate from your activities. So, rather than switch your SUV for a hybrid, you might pay a company or nonprofit to plant trees (which absorb carbon dioxide) in Canada. Such “offsets” are readily available for sale at reasonable prices. Another option is to pay someone else to implement a renewable energy project rather than one based on fossil fuels. This is called a “renewable energy certificate”, or REC. When you buy RECs, you are essentially paying someone to generate energy from a clean source in the same amount that you are generating from a less-clean source. Purchase offsets or RECS
18 US Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/states/sep_sum/html/pdf/sum_use_all.pdf
19 US Energy Information Administration: http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/consumption_state.xls
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