Start Your Energy Diet

Earth Day – it’s the perfect day to start your energy diet. It’s great to hug a tree, (in fact, that’s how you measure the carbon it sequesters) but for most of us, it’s even better to wrap our arms around that tangle of charger cords and pull the plug.  Reducing your energy consumption is the very best way to honor Mother Earth – and save money – this year and every year.

Since I am perpetually on a diet, let me share some of the best strategies for getting started:

  1. Get educated.  Our Make an Impact website is full of tips and tools to get you started.
  2. Get on the scale, which means know your carbon footprint by using a carbon calculator (5-15 minutes).  There are little things you can do to shrink that footprint and save money when you do.
  3. Set an attainable goal – while we’d all like to be carbon neutral, for most of us it’s not likely.  Reducing consumption by 5% or 10% is a great start and quite achievable.
  4. Make some changes to your old ways. Take the bus once or twice a week. Remember your reusable grocery bags. Go back and recycle those soda cans. Use a power strip for chargers and turn it off when you’re done. Change 25% of your bulbs to CFLs – high traffic areas like hallways and the garage are the easiest.
  5. Tell everyone what you’re doing.  Bring up your efficiency changes and you’ll be amazed at what some of your neighbors are doing – solar panels and recycling bins are becoming commonplace in many suburbs. Dieters know you are more likely to stick to a diet if you’ve told people about it.
  6. Tell us what you’re doing!  You can visit the In 3 Words section of the Pew Center site and upload a high-res picture of yourself holding a white piece of paper with just three words describing your energy efficiency. Add a short paragraph about your activity and we’ll post the best to our website.

So where will these steps get us? We know that if all Americans would take 10 simple steps to reduce their energy use we could reduce emissions here in the US by more than 7% with little or no change to our quality of life.  In fact, the only change you might notice is what’s jingling in your pocket – from the money you won’t be paying to your utility company.

Jenny Denney is Program Manager for the Make an Impact program