In this new age of accountability, we all want to do our part to minimize our carbon emissions and resource use—and there’s a lot we can do. But sometimes, I’ll admit, I wonder how big a difference my small steps can make. Sustainability starts at home—but it sure does help to have community backing.
That’s why I was so excited to learn about the Cambridge Energy Alliance (CEA), a program launched this year in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to help residents save money while reducing their carbon emissions. The nonprofit city-sponsored organization offers free energy audits as well as customized plans to make homes and buildings more eco-friendly by reducing consumption of water, electricity, gas and heat.
The Cambridge Energy Alliance aims to help residents save money and reduce carbon emissions. Photo Courtesy Cambridge Energy Alliance.
The City Council launched CEA to help reduce at least 10 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2010. Through energy audits, financing assistance and installation and follow-ups, the CEA anticipates that Cambridge could save roughly 164 kilowatt-hours a year and reduce electricity use by 10 percent.
Lilah Glick, community outreach manager for CEA offers these helpful tips for reducing energy, water and gas use.
• Replace old sink faucets and showerheads with low-flow faucets.
• Time your showers; they should be between 5 to 10 minutes.
• Have an energy audit done on your home and install weather striping and insulation as recommended.
• Unplug appliances when not in use.
• Install a programmable thermostat; throughout the day it will adjust the temperature setting.
If you don’t live in Cambridge or in the 20-plus cities that offer programs similar to the CEA, you can start a program yourself. Glick recommends doing your research, assessing your community’s needs and getting to know local organizations, community leaders and nonprofits. Find out if your community has a climate action plan, and find out how you can partner with them. It may take some time—but the results are sure to be worth it.