Global warming has been a hot topic recently and not just the temperature. Some are passionate about it and see it as a threat to our existence, while others feel that it is an overhyped attempt to limit our lifestyle. There have also been local protests such as a climate strike in uptown Normal and a die-in on the ISU campus.
However, recent developments in Bloomington-Normal speak to efforts being made to develop alternative solutions that can be win-win. Rivian will soon be manufacturing electric vehicles, including a large order from Amazon for electric delivery trucks. This bodes well for the economy here. Connect Transit announced that it will be buying some new, more efficient, less-polluting electric buses to replace aging diesel-powered buses.
Here are some other win-win choices that we could make that would help out in Bloomington/Normal, regardless of our beliefs:
If you need a car and can afford a newer car, buy one. All newer car models are more efficient than older ones. A 2010 Toyota Camry gets 33 mpg versus a 2020 model that gets 41 mpg highway (Google search). If you can afford to, replace an older furnace/air-conditioner with a new, more efficient model. And, if you buy before the end of the year, Ameren and Nicor have rebates available.
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Smart thermostats allow more control over heating/cooling and also may qualify for a $100 rebate. Newer refrigerators and freezers also offer energy efficiency. A $50 rebate is available as well as free pickup of the old.
Newer LED bulbs will save on the electric bill as well as lasting longer than traditional filament bulbs. Depending on your income, you may qualify for free LED bulb replacements. If you are the owner/manager of a multifamily property or a public housing authority site, Ameren incentives can cover some of the costs of energy-efficient upgrades.
Advanced power strips can be used to cut power to electronic devices that are switched off since many still pull power even when off or in sleep mode. Check the Ameren website for these incentives. Check the Nicor site for the furnace rebate as well as rebates for air sealing, attic insulation, and duct sealing.
There are some lifestyle changes that also could help. According to the World Resources Institute, it takes more energy to raise meat than vegetables. Making a diet change to eat less meat could help save on energy usage as well as improve our health, according to Mayo Clinic.
Many of us walk or bike for exercise. How about a trip to the store on bike or on foot for small items for those of us with that opportunity? If you are going to Chicago, consider taking the train to save on energy and the hassle of driving in the city. Turning the thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer could also help save energy. The smart thermostats could help with this. Single-use containers provide convenience but are also wasteful. Buying bottled water can be replaced by buying a water filter pitcher and filtering tap water, a cheaper alternative. A travel mug can be used instead of the retail cup, saving 10 cents on the order and eliminating the need for one single-use cup. If you don’t need a straw, don’t take one. Shopping bags can be taken to the store, saving the plastic bags from being consumed.
So, how about it? Can’t we all make an effort to live smarter, contribute to a cleaner environment, and still live a good life?
Central Illinois Voices is a biweekly column featuring community members. Clark, of Bloomington, is a retired network engineer from Illinois Power (Ameren) who spent most of his life in Decatur.