8 Days 8 Actions
This Hanukkah, join Jews around North America in 8 simple actions to help conserve energy, slow global climate change, and save you money!
Day 1: Let there be sustainable light. Change one regular bulb in your home to a CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light).
It is estimated that about three light bulbs burn five or more hours a day in the average US home. If those three bulbs were replaced with compact fluorescents in every home, it would eliminate about 23 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year! Don't be fooled by the seemingly higher prices of CFLs. They last ten times as long as standard incandescent bulbs and use only a quarter of the energy to produce the same amount of light ? a modern Hanukkah miracle! (To find CFLs near you, contact your local hardware store or visit www.greenpages.org or the ENERGY STAR store locator at www.energystar.gov/stores/storelocator.asp.)
Day 2: Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120?F).
Water heaters are the second largest energy users in the home, averaging about 20% of all household energy use. With heaters set at the maximum 140?F, most of us need to dilute our hot water by turning on the cold tap anyway. By changing the setting to 120?F you'll not only save energy, but also avoid scalding your hands!
Day 3: Lower your thermostat 3?F.
Did you know that for each degree that you lower your thermostat in the winter, you could cut your energy use by about 3%? By lowering your thermostat just 3?F, you can reduce your energy consumption by nearly 10%. The same applies to raising your thermostat 3?F in the summertime; doing both can prevent on average the emission of nearly 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. You probably won't even notice the difference!
Day 4: Skip a car trip.
Transportation, specifically in automobiles, is responsible for about a third of American greenhouse gas emissions. What's worse, while the trend is to buy large SUVs or 8-passenger vans, we spend the majority of our time driving alone. Carpooling helps, and buying locally cuts down on unnecessary driving as well. Today, walk, run, skate, bike, or take public transportation instead of a car ride.
Day 5: Start a scrap paper pile.
More than 40% of all waste in US landfills is paper products. Many towns and cities now have community recycling which has helped to save trees and produce biofuels from old paper fibers that can be used to generate cleaner energy. However, we are still too quick to toss sheets with only a few lines on them. Add another important step to the recycling process right in your home by starting a scrap pile with used pieces of paper (that only are printed on one side, for example). You can use the backs for printing drafts of documents, writing notes, making shopping lists, etc. And the paper gets double the life! Go one step further by buying recycled paper products and you've completed the recycling loop!
Day 6: Give your home a Hanukkah gift from Energy Star.
Energy Star is a US program jointly run by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the US Department of Energy to label and promote energy efficient appliances and products. Because Energy Star is purely voluntary, companies can only obtain the right to use the Energy Star logo if their product is significantly more efficient than required by government standards. In addition to refrigerators, cooling & heating units, dishwasher, washing machines, etc. energy-efficient TVs, VCRs, and DVD players are available. If the average American were to equip their home with only products that have the Energy Star label, they'd reduce lower energy bills-and greenhouse gas emissions-by nearly a third! (For more info about Energy Start visit their website at http://www.energystar.gov)
Day 7: Write a letter to the President or Congress.
As you've experienced the past six days, we can all do a lot to lower energy consumption in our own homes. We also need to change our nation's energy policy to effectively reduce our nation's energy consumption. Write to the President, your representatives in Congress and local authorities to let them know what you've done at home and ask them to make changes in energy policy to promote conservation and the development of clean energy sources. See COEJL's Web site at www.coejl.org for sample letters.
Day 8: Have a candlelight dinner.
Roughly a quarter of the total electricity generated in the U.S. ? $37 billion worth ? is used for lighting. This is more electricity than the continents of South America and Africa, combined, use for all purposes! Shut off all of your lights for an hour and enjoy your last evening of latkes with the full Hanukkiah glowing. (You may want to light a few extra candles; it is traditional that we do not use the Hanukkiah as a functional lamp.) It can be a romantic dinner or special holiday memory for your kids!
Statistics from Earth Day's Guide to Planet Repair, Dennis Hayes, Copyright 2000