The tabs below provide tips and strategies you can implement at home or work. If you have ideas you'd like to share, tips that helped you implement one or more of the strategies listed, or any general comment, please contact us. We look forward to working together to keep California cool. You can also print our Top Five Tips and pass them on.
There are lots of programs offering rebates and incentives to help you save money on energy-efficient upgrades. Check with your local utility before making any purchases to see how you can qualify. For a list of local utilities visit our Rebates and Incentives for Households page.
Did you know that appliances, chargers, home theater equipment, stereos and televisions use electricity even when their power is "off"?
Eliminating this "leaking" electricity could save you 6–26% on your average monthly electricity bill. Take a walking tour of your home and unplug seldom-used appliances and install power strips so that the power to frequently used items can be easily turned off.
Switch to CFLs
The average lifetime of a 75 watt standard bulb is 750 hours. The average lifetime of a comparable 20 watt CFL is 8,000 hours for the same level of brightness!
By replacing five incandescent light bulbs that remain in your home with CFLs, you can save 400 lbs. off your carbon footprint a year. Replacing five incandescent light bulbs with CFLs can save $50 or more in electricity costs a year.
CFLs need to be disposed of carefully because of the very small amount of mercury content. Like paint and batteries, CFLs don’t belong in your household garbage. Consumers can contact their municipal solid waste agency for disposal information or look for a local recycler. Find a recycler nearest you by visiting the Earth911 website, call 1-877-EARTH911, or visit the California Take-It-Back Partnership to learn more about fluorescent lamp recycling and drop-off locations near you. Luckily, with a longer lifespan, you won’t have to dispose of CFLs very often.
Keep it Cooler in Winter
Turn your thermostat in winter down 5 degrees during the daytime, and down 10 degrees before going to sleep (or when you're away for the day) and:
Save 5-20% off your space heating costs.
On average, central Californians can reduce their carbon footprints by 600 lbs a year; northern Californians can reduce by 1200 lbs; and southern and coastal Californians can reduce their carbon footprints by 300 lbs a year.
Keep it Warmer in Summer
Cooling represents one of the largest sources of electricity consumption in California, especially in hot areas such as southern California. Turn your thermostat in summer up 5 degrees during the daytime, and 10 degrees before going to sleep (or when you're away for the day) and:
Save 5-20% off your cooling costs.
On average, central Californians can reduce their carbon footprints by 880 lbs a year; northern Californians can reduce by 100 lbs; and southern and coastal Californians can reduce their carbon footprints by 500 lbs a year.
For an easy fix, purchase an inexpensive programmable thermostat that makes these changes for you.
Increase Energy Efficiency at Home
Did you know that you can save up to 350 lbs of CO2 and $150 per year at home by simply keeping air filters clean?
To determine more ways to increase energy efficiency, take advantage of free home energy audits offered by many utility companies.
When you are ready to purchase an appliance, ensure that you purchase an EnergyStar appliance. Visit Energy Star’s website to learn more about appliances that reduce energy use by 10–75 percent, without compromising quality or performance.
Weatherize your home or office. Caulk and weather-strip your doorways and windows to reduce heating and cooling costs. Not only can you save around $300 a year, but you can save 1,000 pounds of carbon a year.
Dry your Clothes on the Line
Utilize the great outdoors and save some energy, cash, and your carbon footprint. The average family dries 7 to 10 loads of laundry a week. Hanging 2 loads a week can reduce your footprint by 265 lbs, hanging 4 loads a week reduces it by 550 lbs, and 5 loads a week will reduce your footprint by 683 lbs of carbon dioxide equivalents.
Use Green Energy
Green power is electricity produced from renewable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and water. Find out if your local utility offers green energy. For a list of local utilities visit our Rebates and Incentives for Households page.
Did you know that water-related energy use consumes 19% of California's electricity, 30% of its natural gas, and 88 billion gallons of diesel fuel every year? To reduce your water consumption try some of these tips:
Turn off the water if you aren’t actively using it (like when you brush your teeth, shave, or are washing dishes).
Take shorter showers. Showers account for 2/3 of all water heating costs! Using less water in your shower means using less energy to heat the water.
Stop unseen leaks by reading your meter. A leaking toilet can waste up to 90,000 gallons of water a month. Learn how to read the meter from San Diego’s Water Department.
Install low-flow shower heads and aerators on your faucets.
Install and use water efficient landscaping and irrigation methods (for example, plant drought tolerant plants and/or install permeable surfaces and drip irrigation systems).
Only run your dishwasher when there's a full load and use the energy-saving setting. You can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and save water.
Buy Recycled Paper Products
Save trees, reduce landfill waste, and reduce pollution by purchasing paper products made from post-consumer recycled content.
Make sure your printer paper is 100 percent post consumer recycled paper. This simple detail can save 5 pounds of carbon dioxide per ream of paper. Recycled paper does not jam copiers any more than virgin paper does. So if you had bad luck with it in the past, give another brand of recycled paper a try.
Know the logos. Packaging that displays the chasing arrows within a circle is made from recycled content. The chasing arrows alone without the circle indicated the item can be recycled.
By purchasing 100% post-consumer recycled content products like writing paper, napkins, bathroom tissue, paper towels, greeting cards, etc., you can save 1,200 lbs. of greenhouse gases, 6,000 gallons of wastewater, about 13 trees, and 4 million BTU’s of net energy a year per half ton (that’s about 10 cases of paper a year).
Don’t Forget to Recycle
More than 30% of the average landfill is comprised of paper.
Place recycling bins strategically and clearly marked. The bathroom is a great place to add one to recycle soap packages, paper tubes, empty shampoo bottle, etc. And don’t forget about the kitchen or wherever you sift through mail or read.
Lots of household and business items can be recycled like motor oil, batteries, bottles, cans, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).
San Mateo County’s Recycle Works website has great tips and information on all topics related to recycling, no matter where you live
Change your transit patterns
Did you know that one third of the CO2 produced in the U.S. is from the transportation of people or goods? Pick one day a week to walk, bike, take public transportation or carpool to work or when you're running errands.
Share the Ride - Carpool
There are plenty of ways to save money by carpooling – on fuel costs, vehicle maintenance, parking fees, toll fees. Your car insurance may also have a discount for carpooling, so call your agent. Lower exposure to known air pollutants have also been associated with carpool lanes which tend to have lower concentrations of pollutants and result in a shorter length of trip (since you don’t have to stop and start in traffic), so carpoolers spend less time on freeways. Find a carpool through your city or county administration offices or go online.
Connect with California campuses, businesses, and friends to share a ride through the Zimride.com web resource
Rideshare Agencies in California can be found on the Valleyrides.com web site.
Burn calories instead of gasoline by riding a bike
By riding a bike 20 miles a week instead of driving a car that gets 20 mpg, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 1280 lbs a year, burn calories, and maintain your fitness level. Not to mention save some money on gas and other expenses like parking.
Sit back and enjoy the ride
Taking public transit 20 miles a week instead of driving a vehicle that gets 20 mpg can reduce your carbon footprint by 1,100 lbs a year for Diesel or CNG buses or 880 lbs a year for transit rail or Amtrak.
Check out Google’s Transit Trip Planner that provides a map, step by step instructions, and photos to help you get where you want to go.
Buy for Better Mileage
Buying a more fuel efficient vehicle that gets 10 mpg better than your current vehicle can save up to 4,000 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions a year, save you $400 or more on fuel costs, and natural resources.
Work from Home
Telecommuting (working from home) one day a week instead of driving a vehicle that gets 20 mpg can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 3,000 lbs a year. Co-benefits include saving on parking costs, increased productivity, and telecommuting allows you to spend less time on the road and more time working or doing the things you like, whether that's spending more time with friends and family, exercising or just relaxing at home.
Encourage your workplace to set up Telecommuting Policies
Reduce Air Travel
Save on travel expenses like food and lodging by choosing to utilize new teleconferencing technologies or vacationing at home.
Flying 1,000 miles less a year saves about 1,000 lbs off your carbon footprint.
Vacation close to home and when you do, consider taking a train ride. You can travel twice as far on the train than by car and emit the same amount of greenhouse gases.
Move information instead of people. Discover virtual conferencing technologies available like Skype and Google Docs for virtual document sharing
Follow the Speed Limit
Did you know you can get better fuel efficiency by following the speed limit?
Assuming half of your driving is on the highway and the other half on city streets, by reducing your top highway speed from 70mph to 65mph you can save 2,230 lbs a year off of your carbon footprint. Not to mention increasing your fuel economy, this saves money on gas, approximately $225 a year, and natural resources.
Cold engine start ups use twice as much fuel and pollute twice as much. That quick one-mile trip to the dry cleaners can pollute up to 70 percent as much as a ten-mile excursion with several stops. Combine short trips into one multipurpose trip with a warm engine and you will save on fuel and pollute less. (Source DriveClean.ca.gov).
Trip linking is easy:
• Keep a running list of errands you need to do
• Try to match items on your list that are located near each other
• For example, if your child's school is located near your dry cleaner and post office, three trips could be linked together into one
• Give yourself enough time and plan ahead
• Think before you drive: "Do I really need to make this trip?" and "How can I combine this errand with another trip I'll be making this week?"
Maintain Your Vehicle
Maintenance issues will come up eventually with any car. Maintaining your car not only saves you money at the pump and helps cool the climate by reducing pollution, but keeping your air filters fresh can also help maintain good air quality inside your car.
By keeping your tires properly inflated and changing air filters regularly, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 1,700 lbs a year, depending on your fuel efficiency.
Report a smoking vehicle. They can contribute up to 15 times more air pollution than well-tuned vehicles. If you live in the Bay Area, call 1-800-EXHAUST or go online at http://www.smokingvehiclehelp.org/ for a quick and anonymous way to get smoking vehicles off the road.
Drive Smart tips from the American Council an Energy-Efficiency Economy
Change your Diet
Go on a low carbon diet. By adjusting your daily food choices for ones that have lower carbon emissions, you can save thousands of pounds off of your carbon footprint.
By eating a less than average amount of meat a week, you can save 3,500 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions a year.
By eliminating meat altogether and instead eating more fruit, vegetables, and grains, you can save 7,000 lbs of emissions a year.
Lower carbon diets are typically better for you as well. Reducing meat and diary consumption and increasing consumption of vegetables and less processed foods is not only good for the planet, it's good for you!
(Carbon footprints can vary dramatically between similar products based on cropping systems, processing and other supply chain processes, the distance and mode of transport to market, and emissions associated with the sale of products.)
Currently, there is not conclusive scientific evidence that organic food, in general, has lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional products. However, there are a lot of environmental reasons to buy organic food including reducing chemical toxins in the environment and encouraging sustainable farming practices, which frequently accompany organic farming.
Purchasing half of your dairy products from organic farms can reduce your carbon footprint by 150 lbs. If you purchase all of your dairy products from organic farms will reduce it by 530 lbs a year.
Purchasing all of your meat and dairy from organic sources can reduce your carbon footprint by 750 lbs a year.
Do it Yourself
Food grown in your own backyard or from a small farm in your community may have very low emissions compared to typical farm products, especially if you or your local grower commit to using minimal "inputs," such as fertilizer and pesticides, even if they are technically organic.
Get your friends and families to reduce their carbon emissions!
Share these tips with your family and friends to foster a better planet for our children.
Contact your local policymakers to let them know that action must be taken now to address climate change.
Be a better consumer!
Did you know that the average American generates about 4.4 lbs of trash each day? To reduce the amount of trash you generate, follow these few easy steps.
Use re-usable coffee mugs and shopping bags. If you forget your mug or bag at the store, buy a new reusable mug or bag and keep the extra one in your purse or car for use the next time you're out.
Re-use as many things as possible and recycle at home, work and school.
The shorter the distance you travel to your shopping destination or that product travels to your home; the fewer greenhouse gases are produced.
Declare one day a week "Local Day" and shop within 10 miles of your house.
Check out local yard/garage sales for items you need. Or buy from your neighbors by checking out listings on the free website Craigslist.
Or don't buy from your neighbors. Instead you can get items for free by checking out listings on the free website Freecycle. "Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community." Find your local community.
Try Buying Second Hand First
Online auction sites like eBay are a great way to live the mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". According to a recent study on the impacts of reuse, "Buying that pre-owned blender on eBay, saves over 400 pounds of greenhouse gases, equivalent to the pollution and energy of driving almost 400 miles." Check out eBay's Green Team for more green shopping inspirations.