The Big 5 Actions

It's easier than you think to Go Carbon Free.  Most people can lower their direct impact 70-100% with just 5 actions.  And - it can save you money.  

Here are the Big 5 actions:

#1  Choose Green (Carbon Free) Electricity (10-20%)

   Choosing Green Electricity is one of the most important actions you can take.  It will help make it easier to Go Carbon Free.  Once your electricity is power by clean, safe, carbon free renewable energy, then you can use it to make other areas of your energy use carbon free.  There are two options for Green Electricity:  

      1)  Choose Green Electricity through your utility or other energy provider  Cost:  Average $10/month

      2)  Install Solar Panels   Savings:  Ranges from $10-100/month on utility bill

   Choosing Green Electricity is easy - if you have a utility account, you can make the switch.  This may have a small charge of a few extra dollars a month, but will reduce your impact 10-20%.  Take one or two energy efficiency actions, like installing smart power strips or smart thermostat, and you can make this difference back on your bill!  If you own your home, you can also consider installing solar panels.  This can save you money on your monthly bills, especially if you choose an electric car.  The best news - choosing green electricity creates jobs, reduces air pollution and over time will lower our energy costs.

#2 Choose an Electric Vehicle or Alternative Transportation (40-50%)

   If you need to drive a car, choose an electric vehicle.  If your home electricity is Green (renewable), then when you charge your car at home, you will be driving on carbon free miles!  Savings:  up to $1,000 or more per year on fuel and maintenance costs per car.  And the best part - they are fun to drive!  New EV options are coming out now that offer affordable options with longer ranges (200+ miles on a charge).  Learn more on the Electric Vehicle action page!  If you're not ready for a 100% EV, consider an EV model with a gas range extender.  The best news - switching to EVs dramatically lowers air pollution.  Imagine a world without smog!

  If alternative transportation is an option, this is another great way to lower your transportation impact.  Taking the subway, rail or bus can lower your impact up to 80% or more.  Riding your bike is completely carbon free!  If you have a choice, choose electric powered alternative transportation like the subway or electric buses for the lowest impact.

#3 Go Energy Efficient & Carbon Free at Home! Retrofit Your Home and Appliances (10-20%)

Energy Efficiency actions help lower our energy use and impact, and they save money!  One of the most cost-effective energy efficiency actions is to weatherize your home which includes caulking around windows and doors, putting a blanket on your hot water heater, and air sealing and insulating your attic.  Air sealing and insulating your attic alone can help you to save up to 30% off your heating and cooling bills, while making your home more comfortable and improving indoor air quality!  Caulking and weather stripping air leaks around your windows and doors is a very low cost action and can save another 5-15% off your bills.  

Savings range from $30-$150+/month depending on your climate and the upgrade/efficiency actions implemented

Additionally, the next time you are ready to replace any major appliances such as your water heater, furnace, dryer, or stove, consider efficient electric appliances.  With your own solar system or by participating in PG&E’s Solar Choice Program, if you transition your appliances to electric, they will run on 100% renewable and carbon free energy.  There are highly efficient electric heat pump heating and hot water appliances that can keep operating costs low and induction ranges that are amazing to cook on, safer, and easier to clean than gas ranges.  With electric heating, hot water, and cooking appliances, you can have a carbon free home!  If you rent, ask your landlord about electric appliances and suggest they consider switching the next time the equipment is up for replacement.   If you are not quite ready to go electric, be sure to choose the most efficient gas appliances to lower your impact.

#4 Reduce or Offset Air Travel (10-15%)

   Airline travel is the one area where we do not yet have good alternatives.  Bright minds are working on it!  In the interim, until we have a good solution, consider flying less.  Explore locally for vacation once in a while or consider alternating years for family visits.  Savings for Reduced Travel:  $200+ for every 1,000 miles   

  If you need to fly, consider purchasing offsets to balance your carbon emissions.  You can invest a small amount in solar panels or other renewable energy solutions that will help to offset your travel impact.  This does not cost much!  Often less than a movie ticket per flight.  Cost for Offsets:  around $4 for every 1,000 miles

#5 Eat Lower Down the Carbon Chain  (10-15%)

   Some animals, including cows and sheep, produce a powerful Greenhouse Gas called Methane as part of their digestive process.  When we eat beef and lamb, there is an impact to climate change.  Eating just a few meals less of red meat a week can significantly lower your impact on climate.  It can also improve your health.  Savings:  $3-5/meal

These five actions cover nearly all of our direct impact on climate change from our daily activities.  Most people can make a plan and accomplish these actions in 5-10 years or less.  See how low you can go!

This is Your Direct Impact

These actions are your direct impact on emissions.  There is also an impact from the things we purchase and the services we use.  For example, when you buy a new pair of shoes or go to get a haircut, the energy used to make the shoes or power the electricity in the hair salon can also create emissions.  Since we can't directly control this, the best way to reduce your impact is to vote with your dollar and choose products and services that have a lower impact.  However, it is often difficult to know which ones to choose.  Green certification or other rating information can be hard to find, but as it becomes available, we will provide the information on our site.  You can also use your voice and your vote to encourage your elected officials to consider options for policies to lower business emissions.