Energy efficiency is one of the most important ways we can reduce our carbon footprint on Cape Ann. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, if home-appliance standards, utility programs, and building codes reached their full potential, we could keep 1 billion tons of carbon pollution out of the air.
Here are some important ways to make a difference.
Small changes truly matter
Using less energy is one of the most important things we can do to address climate change. Small behavior shifts, such as how we travel, heat our homes, and plan our meals, can reduce our carbon footprint substantially. For many of us, transportation is the biggest part of our carbon footprint — totaling 30 percent of our emissions. Home energy use (heating and cooling, appliances) is a close second. A third important category is food: Eating meat, for example, results in potent methane emissions from the raising of livestock.
- Think before you drive. Think about walking, biking, and public transportation whenever possible.
- Consider a hybrid or an electric vehicle. Most new EVs use less energy and are cheaper to operate than gas-powered cars. Though the sticker price of a new electric vehicles is still above that of a new gas-powered car, EVs qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 and the state MOR-EV rebate of up to $2,500.
- Arrange for a free home-energy assessment by Mass Save. Complete at least one energy-saving project, such as upgrading insulation or an appliance, improving weatherization, or doing heating/cooling improvements.
- Buy energy- and water-efficient appliances. Always replace old appliances with those with an Energy Star Rating.
- Eat less meat. Choose vegetarian options whenever possible. Meat and dairy production requires pesticides, chemical fertilizers, fuel, feed, and water; and greenhouse gases are generated in the process.
- Choose food that is sourced locally and produced in a sustainable fashion. Eating local produce means less transportation and fewer greenhouses gas emissions.
- Reduce food waste. More than one third of the food produced on our planet never reaches the table. Aside from the economic and moral implications of this fact, the environmental reality is staggering.
Want to learn more?
- NRDC. Check out this guide to clean vehicles (hybrids and electric vehicles) and fuels.
- Mass.gov. Here you’ll find an overview of state and federal incentives for electric vehicles.
- MOR-EV. This state program provides rebates to purchase or lease zero-emission and plug-in hybrid light-duty vehicles.
- Cape Ann Transportation Authority. The CATA provides great, reliable service around Cape Ann and even to the Danvers and Peabody malls.
- City of Gloucester. Visit this site for an overview of local transportation options.
- Massachusetts Green Communities Division. Learn about heating your home, improving energy efficiency, and investing in renewable energy.
- Mass Save. Discover ways to improve energy efficiency in the home, such as weatherization, insulation, LED lighting, and appliance upgrades. See how you're currently using energy and get an estimate of potential cost savings.
- National GRID. Find useful information about energy efficiency.
- US Dept. of Energy: Home Energy Saver. Extensive information is provided about saving energy. Included are case studies, blogs, and videos.
- Mass Energy Consumers Alliance (Mass Energy). Get tips on how to make your home more energy efficient.
- Cape Ann Farmer’s Market (CAFM). CAFM supports small local farmers, fishermen, and food producers; this, in turn, helps to strengthen the Cape Ann economy.
- Common Crow Natural Market. An independent natural grocer in Gloucester, this market is committed to bringing organic, sustainable, and delicious foods to the community.
- Mindbodygreen. Visit this site for the case for eating less meat and reducing food waste.
- Center for Sustainable Systems. Learn about therole food plays in our overall carbon footprint.
- Environmental Working Group. This organization makes powerfularguments for eating less meat and cheese and for making greener choices when you do.