• Use your voice and your vote to transition your utility to clean power sources.  People that live in a place that uses low-carbon energy to make electricity automatically have smaller carbon footprints.
  •  If possible, generate your own low carbon electricity. The biggest electricity uses can be tackled with piecemeal investments: solar water heaters, solar or ground source heat pumps, and solar powered air conditioners.
  •  There are many ways to reduce energy use for electricity and heating. Some strategies use technology to reduce waste and some involve a change in habits. Take a look and see what works best for you.

Electricity use dominates the home carbon footprint, but it can be reduced dramatically by using a clean power source. The chart shows how the same 10,000 kilowatts of electricity results in very different carbon emissions, depending on the source of the power (red bars). You can also see how countries (blue bars) using coal, like India and Australia, have high carbon emissions, while countries using renewable energy, like Iceland and Sweden, have low emissions for the same amount of power.


Find out what mix your electricity is made from. If it is not renewable, lobby and vote for legislation to mandate that the utility switch to clean energy. If there is an option to pay for a "green rate" within your utility, make sure it goes towards expansion of renewable energy.

You can also invest in producing your own renewable energy. This will most likely be solar, perhaps complemented by batteries. It is not all or nothing -- you can start with a solar hot water heater, a solar or ground source heat pump, or a solar-powered air conditioner.


How to increase efficiency with the power source you have.

Heating and Cooling  Temperature control is by far the biggest use. Program your thermostat to turn off when you are not home, when you are asleep, or not using part of the house. Try adjusting the setting one degree at a time. Can you still be comfortable? A sweater (for heating) or fans to move the air (for cooling) may be all you need. Fans don't use much electricity. A one degree change can cut electricity use by 10%.

Insulate your roof and walls and seal leaks. You can do some yourself: caulk gaps, plug holes with expanding foam, add foam strips to external doorways, or block unused chimneys. Clean your AC filters. Plant trees for shade.

Water Heating  Turn down your thermostat to 125 F. Do laundry in cold water. Buy a solar water heater - they pay for themselves.

Lighting  Switching to CFLs or LEDs cuts electricity used by lights by 80%. Change frequently used lights first. Buy the right fit, shape (to shine where you want), brightness (check a watts-lumens conversion table), warmth (usually 2,700 - 3,000 kelvins for home use). LEDs are dimmable and quick to warm up, but cost more than CFLs. Click for 90% rebates and information on buying LED and CFL bulbs in Hawaii

Refrigerator and Freezer  They are on all the time, make sure they are energy efficient models and not set too cold.

Laundry and Dishwashing  Do full loads on the coldest setting. Use a clothesline.

Electronics and Computers  5%-10% of household power is used by equipment in "stand by" mode. Turn everything off before you go to bed. Power strips make it easy to turn several things off at once. When replacing electronics, consider the wattage.