Easy no-cost actions
- Turn things off and turn things down.
- Turn off lights, computers and appliances when not in use.
- Turn down water heater temperature, when possible
Educate your congregation
- Post reminders to staff, volunteers and janitorial services to turn off lights
- Post instructions on how to use heating and cooling equipment and programmable thermostats
- Label all controls for heating and cooling equipment
- Clean filters on heating and cooling equipment
- Close natural circulation air vents during heating season (no sense in losing the heat you paid for)
- Wrap water heater pipes 3-5 feet from the heater
- Check that optimizers are working properly
Understand your energy usage
- Energy audits: will help you identify where you can make the biggest improvements
- Benefits include: increase comfort, improved aesthetics, financial savings, pollution reduction, climate change reduction
- Programmable (also called setback or clock) thermostats
- ‘Smart’ power strips
- Motion sensors
- CO2 monitors (controls heating and cooling based on increased carbon dioxide levels from exhalation)
Insulate, seal, and install windows
- Cellular shades can produce big savings in both winter and summer. In winter, shades up in daytime, down at night. In summer, shades down in daytime and up at night.
- New windows are expensive, but may improve comfort and reduce energy bills.
- Insulate, insulate, insulate!
- Seal air leaks
If you have a direct-exchange (refrigeration-based) air-conditioning system, contact your utility about demand response programs. When demand for electricity is expected to exceed supply, utilities can cycle your air conditioner on and off. The utilities offer this program to avert blackouts. You save money by reducing your air conditioning: your utility may offer a lower electric rate for permission to cycle your air conditioner, or give you credit on your electricity bill. Contact your local electric utility for more information.
If you do not use a direct-exchange (refrigeration-based) air conditioning system, and use natural breezes for ventilation and work with the sun’s path to reduce cooling requirements, or you use geothermal cooling, whole building fans, or energy-efficient evaporative coolers, you are already doing your part!
Work with nature
- Plant deciduous trees, especially on the south- and west-facing sides of your building or home, to reduce heat gain in the summer but allow heat gain in the winter
- Xeriscape to minimize lawn maintenance and watering
- Use ecologically-benevolent lawn care services
- Use drapes, curtains, shades, blinds and/or screens, especially on the south- and west-facing sides of your congregation and home, to block heat gain in the summer, and open them up in the winter to let in the sun
Purchase clean energy
- Ask your electric utility if it offers a green power product. Green power from your utility may – or may not – cost more than standard “black” electricity. Ask your electric utility for details. Xcel customers can purchase carbon-free wind energy through Xcel’s Windsource program.
- Install solar panels. For more information, contact the Colorado Solar Electric Industry Association. Here’s a webinar on solar financing for nonprofits: The Interfaith Power and Light webinar with CollectiveSun.
- Buy a fuel-efficient car; take mass transit; and, when you can, bicycle or walk to work.
- Transportation contributes about 40% of climate-changing emissions. Apart from saving money, using less gas decreases our reliance on unstable Middle Eastern suppliers.
Support green companies
- Buy products from companies that are trying to reduce their own impact on the climate. Companies can do this either through programs that reduce carbon emissions or by enabling consumers to cut down their own emissions (which now average 20 tons annually per person). If consumers demand climate-friendly products and practices, companies will deliver.
Demand that the government make climate change a priority.
- Ask federal, state and local governments to buy climate-friendly vehicles and products. This would help commercialize new technologies and provide an enormous boost to alternative energy. We can’t expect China, India and other growing countries to act until our own government recognizes the threat, and that will not happen until ordinary citizens demand change.
- Encourage your Representative and Senators to enact a carbon tax or cap and trade program. Nobody wants higher taxes, but imposing a tax on carbon would guide everybody to the least-harmful products for the climate. If we conserve energy without such a tax, it will simply lower gas prices–then once again encourage waste and pour more carbon into the atmosphere.