The absolute best way to reduce the impacts of energy production is to simply use less energy, which also saves money in the long run! Energy savings can come from physical changes (more efficient lighting and increased insulation) or behavioral changes (turning off lights and turning down thermostats in the winter). Some if these changes can be made with no financial cost while others may require an investment that can be recovered after a certain payback period.
As you make decisions, consider not just the upfront costs, but also the long term payoff. Take into account financial stewardship, social impact, and environmental good. Below are resources that will help guide you as you make these decisions.
Congregation or individual
Consider an energy audit: If you have high energy bills, a drafty house, or simply don’t know how to best increase home efficiency, a home audit is a great first step. During a home energy audit, you can expect to learn how you use energy, where it is being wasted, and how to prioritize upgrades. While there is an up-front cost, an energy audit is the easiest way to learn which actions will have the biggest impact. Learn more about energy audits here.
If you are not ready to commit to a professional audit, you can find instructions for a do-it-yourself energy audit here.
Congregations: evaluate and act
ENERGY STAR Workbook for Congregations: If your congregation is committed to increasing energy efficiency, this is a great place to start. This workbook is intended to serve as a resource and planning guide for clergy, staff, and laypersons of houses of worship who want to increase the energy efficiency of their facilities by implementing realistic and cost-effective energy improvement projects.
Cool Congregations: This website, supported by Interfaith Power & Light, provides a wealth of resources for congregations looking to reduce their energy usage – all from a faith-based perspective. There are also resources for individuals.
Individuals: evaluate and act
Feeling ambitious? Here’s the complete guide to saving money and energy in your home.
Blessed Tomorrow has many specific recommendations to decrease your energy usage.
The Energy Star “Energy Savings at Home” page contains many of the same useful resources to increase the energy efficiency of your home, often while saving money. These resources are in website form instead of a long document.