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1 hour for the Earth - 2022 Climate Resolutions.
An hour of actions to advance your 2022 climate resolutions 01/27/2022

As January is almost over it’s a good time to review how your 2022 resolutions are going. Maybe we’re not exercising every day… or eating less ice cream. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start out tomorrow with the intention to do better! 

Is lowering your carbon footprint one of your 2022 resolutions? Here’s a list of one-time tasks that should take about an hour and a few more behavior change goals that will help you reduce your water use, save energy, lower your carbon footprint and save money on your EWEB bill!

 An hour of action:

1. Save Energy: Replace your old light bulbs with LEDs. (10 minutes)

2. Conserve Water: Inspect your home/business for leaks. (30 minutes)

3. Fix Drafts: Feel around doors and windows for cold air and then add weather stripping or caulking to seal the gap. (10 minutes)

4. Clean your HVAC Filter: A quick clean can improve the efficiency of your heating system. (5 minutes)

5. Know your Carbon Footprint: Measure your impact and learn how to reduce it. (5 minutes)

A lifetime of improvement:

1. Save water and energy by running the dishwasher and clothes washer only when they are full and when electricity is in low demand (off-peak hours are 10am – 5pm and 9pm – 6am)

2. Use the dryer less by consolidating loads and hang-drying clothes in the summer. (And when you use the dryer – you guessed it – run it during off-peak hours!)

3. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees or below and your water heater to 120 degrees. Each degree that you lower your thermostat can reduce your heating costs by as much as three percent!

4. Rethink your transportation. Drive less; walk, bike, and use public transit more. If you are buying a new or used car, go electric.

5. Upgrade technologies that run on fossil-fuels, like natural gas heating, with alternatives that run on electricity, like electric heat pumps.

6. Get in the habit of turning off and unplugging devices when they’re not in use. Even when off, electronics can be energy vampires if plugged in.

7. Watch your water use.It takes a lot of energy to treat and deliver the water you use every day. It takes even more energy to turn it into hot water. Saving water saves energy, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions. 

8. Invest in Greenpower, a voluntary program that allows you to support clean, sustainable energy and encourage renewable energy projects in our local community.

9. Eat less meat and buy more local foods.

10. Don’t let that food go to waste. Up to one-third of food in the U.S. is wasted. By cutting down on food waste, you can reduce your carbon footprint. 

EWEB offers rebates and loans that can help you reach your climate goals by upgrading your space and water heaters, improve the energy efficiency of your home or rental property, and install high-performance toilets. We have expanded rebates for income-qualifying customers. Learn more at eweb.org/SaveEnergy

A selection of resolutions from University of Oregon climate experts encourages a few things we’re doing here at EWEB, including planting trees, having conversations about emergency preparedness, and getting involved with your local watershed council. Check out their list for added inspiration.

Most of all – stay vigilant, don’t get discouraged, and forgive yourself if you miss your goal and try again! Some of these steps are easy, and some are challenging. If you can keep it up for three weeks, however, it will become a pattern. Here’s to a better year – and a better you!

 An hour of action:

1. Save Energy: Replace your old light bulbs with LEDs (10 minutes)

Many people think that the war on incandescent light bulbs ended a decade ago - but recent reports have found that many dollar stores and convenience stores don’t stock LEDs and people have been mistakenly buying and installing the more expensive, wasteful old bulbs. If you haven’t switched because you like the warm color of the incandescent glow, you can get LEDs in warmer colors too – look for bulbs with light temperatures under 3000K. There are also many smart LED bulbs that come with remote controls so you can select a range of colors, intensities, and patterns! For whatever mood you’re in, LEDs are sure to use less energy and keep you in a money-saving mood. 

Action item: Go around your home or business and look at your light bulbs. If they buzz, have a high number (above 20W) before their wattage, or heat up when turned on, they are probably not LEDs. Replace them with low-cost, efficient LEDs to save money on your bill.

EWEB can help! – Check out our Commercial Lighting Rebates Program to help you upgrade your business with efficient LEDs and save lots of money! Our program to help business customers improve their lighting is still EWEB’s best return on investment towards reducing our community’s overall electricity demand.

2. Conserve Water: Inspect your home/business for leaks (30 minutes)

Although at times it feels like water is all too abundant in rainy Oregon, we must adjust to a future in which droughts are becoming more prevalent. It also takes a lot of electricity for EWEB to treat and deliver water to your home, so making sure it’s not wasted is another way you can reduce your energy consumption.

The leaks inside our home are easy to detect: we can see and hear the drip, drip, drip. It might even drive us crazy! Here are pdf downloads for tips to address dripping faucets, leaking toilets, or shoddy showers.

The leaks in our plumbing, however, are hard to detect – and can be the source of massive amounts of wasted water. The winter is a good time to check for leaks in your water distribution main or your sprinkler system due to seasonal shifts in the soil.

The Willamette Valley is like a giant sponge. During the summer, the ground is dry. Now that we’re in the middle of winter, the ground is saturated. We’ve also had some freezing weather. That cycle of drying, soaking, and freezing can move and compress the pipes in your yard, putting them through quite a bit of stress.

Reasons to suspect a leak in your system could include:

  • a higher-than-normal EWEB water bill or City of Eugene wastewater bill
  • you find new water stains in your walls or floor
  • you find water flowing or puddles forming in your yard or driveway
  • (if you have a smart water meter) you get an email or a call from EWEB indicating suspicion of “continuous consumption” of more than ten gallons/hour. (Make sure you open those emails and follow up!)

If you think you may have a leak you don’t have to be a plumber to confirm your suspicion. Follow these steps to hound out the leak – it could require just a simple fix you can do on your own. If not – then you can call a plumber. (Here’s a pdf download of list of contractors who’ve recently participated in EWEB programs.)

Action item: Inspect your home, yard and driveway for suspicious moisture. If you find wetness where it should be dry, turn off all your faucets inside and outside your home, locate your water meter (for a house, it’s usually by the sidewalk), and check to make sure your meter is not active. If it is actively counting up water use – even though all of your sinks, toilets, showers, dishwasher, sprinklers, etc. are off – that could mean you have a leak somewhere. You can further isolate the leak by shutting off your home’s main shut-off valve, then turn on the faucet farthest away from the main valve to make sure the water is shut off to the house. Then check the meter again. If the meter continues to move, that means your leak is outside your home. If it’s stopped moving, that means it’s inside.

EWEB can help! – Although it is the homeowner’s responsibility to repair leaks, EWEB offers Loans & Grants for Water Service Line Replacement on a case-by-case basis to help our customers pay to repair leaks at their homes

3. Insulation Inspection: Feel around doors and windows for cold air. (10 minutes)

We’re in the middle of a cold snap! You can save on your heating bill by making sure that heated air isn’t escaping your home through gaps in your doors or windows.

Action item: Go around your home or business and run your hand around the edges of doors and windows, feeling for cold air coming in. If you feel a draft, try one of these solutions courtesy of BC Hydro. You can even save even more energy by installing foam insulation pads behind your power outlets and light switches. BC Hydro’s handy helper Dave says you can save $10/year by doing this! (Canadian dollars, that is).

Finally, make sure heat isn't escaping from your fireplace. Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney. Install a chimney pillow in the flue of unused or seldom used fireplaces. These plastic pillows are inflated to fill the chimney and block warm inside air from leaving. Remember to remove the pillow before starting a fire. You can buy chimney pillows from fireplace dealers and online.

EWEB can help! – Your public utility offers multiple loan and rebate programs to improve the energy efficiency of your house, multifamily home, rental property, or business. Check out some of our offerings and get in touch!

4. Clean your HVAC Filter: A quick clean improves your heating system. (5 minutes)

Air filters, although small, do a big job. They maintain the air quality in your home and help your heater run efficiently. If you don't replace your air filter, it clogs up from excess dust. This reduces airflow, or increases resistance, which puts strain on your heating and cooling system.

Action item: Clean or replace furnace filters in the fall and then regularly during the heating season, following your manufacturers' recommendations.

EWEB can help! – Are you ready to replace an older, inefficient heat pump with a highly efficient ducted or ductless heat pump? EWEB offers rebates to our customers to help them both heat and cool their homes with these more efficient installations.

5. Carbon Footprint: Measure your impact and learn how to reduce it. (5 minutes)

It’s still the beginning of the year – calculate your carbon footprint based on today’s behavior and activities and test again next year to challenge yourself to take actions to reduce your carbon footprint. Are there habits you can change? What sacrifices would that take? Which of those changes would benefit your health and lifestyle as well as reduce your impact? It’s a challenging journey that we must all take individually and communally in order to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

Action item: Try out this carbon and ecological footprint calculator and see what your impact is. What are some ways you can scale back? Try out “meatless Mondays,” “public transit Tuesdays” – or whatever works for you – to begin taking the steps to reduce your impact.

EWEB can help! – EWEB helps our customers reduce their transportation carbon footprints with rebates to install EV chargers, and buy electronic bikes. We are also developing a carbon offset program with researchers at the University of Oregon so that our customers can offset their footprints by having trees planted in the McKenzie watershed to both sequester carbon and restore riparian areas. Also – our long-running GreenPower program allows customers to support local renewable energy projects that have helped schools and non-profits plant trees and switch to solar power. 

Thank you for setting these goals for yourself. Please get in touch with your friendly neighborhood EWEB folks for support to realize your goals. We look forward to helping you on your way.