LED lights, unplug devices, food donations: Ways you can help fight climate change at home

Climate change can seem like a scary and overwhelming problem.
NEW YORK -- Climate issues are front and center in Glasgow, Scotland for the COP26 Climate Conference, but what can we do as individuals?

The impacts of climate change are happening all around us: life-threatening storms and wildfires are occurring more frequently and having a huge negative impact on the economy and the health of Americans.

ABC News spoke with Dr. Radley Horton, a climate scientist at Columbia University, about this issue.

"I am disturbed by how quickly we're seeing the emergence of these unprecedented extreme weather events and seeing how large the impacts are," Horton said.

Climate change can seem like a scary and overwhelming problem, almost too big for an individual to make a difference.

So what can you do to fight climate change?

You can start right in your own home.

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"What temperature you set your thermostat to is something that's very important. Also finding out if your utility offers a renewables program, most do at this point so that at least some of your energy is coming from, say, solar or wind," Horton said.

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Heating and air conditioning account for almost half of the energy you use in your home, so sealing drafts and improving your insulation can cut power use.

You can also invest in LED light bulbs and smart appliances.

"Smart appliances [are] ways that you can use less energy and, over time, save money as well," Horton said.

And unplug your appliances when you're not using or charging them. Electronic devices that are plugged in use energy even when they're fully charged.

Another impactful thing you can do is cut down on food waste.

Americans throw away up to 40 percent of the food they buy. So buy less food, eat leftovers, compost food scraps and donate extra food to soup kitchens or food banks.

Outside the home, use public transportation when you can. When you do drive, use less gas by keeping your tires properly inflated and driving at a steady pace to improve your gas mileage.

Experts say talking with your family and friends about fighting climate change can help, as well. The more people who join the fight, the bigger the impact will be.
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