Lower Your Energy Footprint
Reducing how much energy you use and switching to renewable energy are two of the most significant changes you can make to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and our community’s dependence on fossil fuels.
On this page we’ll introduce you to the idea of an Energy Descent Action Plan for your home, your business, or your community. Then we’ll show you what others have done – and what you can do with others – to bring these ideas out into your community.
There are businesses and nonprofits in our local community that can help you on this journey. Click to Energy Descent: How to Do It for local and national resources.
What Is An Energy Descent Action Plan?
From the very beginning, the Transition movement asked people to think about how their community could become energy independent, freeing themselves from the cost and risk of fossil fuels. (The U.S. is not energy-independent and it will not be so in future.)
Communities around the world began to create Energy Descent Action Plans (also called EDAPs). An EDAP is a step-by-step plan to change a pattern of energy use. The plan starts with a process of positive visioning for the kind of future a community (or a family) wants to live in using less fossil fuel and other stressed natural resources, while holding fast to important values, relationships, and commitments to fairness.
- Read up on the process one community used to create a plan.
- Take a look at the EDAP for the town of Totnes, England.
You can create an Energy Descent Action Plan for your home or your business. Transition Twin Cities has created a quick Energy Descent Guide to help you get started. It’s a free, easy-to-understand, 16-page document and includes space where you can note the steps you want to take.
Bring the Idea of Energy Descent to Your Community
Energy is a great topic to explore with friends and neighbors in a Transition group (join one or start one), a workplace green team, or a creation care team. These are just a few of the energy-related actions groups can tackle:
- Show movies about energy problems and solutions.
- Host speakers to help people learn about how our energy system operates, the truth about U.S. energy reserves, and about energy reduction solutions like solar bulk buy programs, community solar gardens, and weatherization actions. Groups like the Citizens’ Climate Lobby are happy to speak about carbon fee and dividend.
- Use social media to educate people about energy-savings technologies, as well as myths and facts. There is a lot of greenwashing and wishful thinking.
- Host an energy fair or table at community events with literature from your utility company about energy saving habits and devices, and renewable energy programs (like Wind Source and community solar gardens).
- Learn about energy-related legislation and go together to a legislative session to see what your representatives are saying and doing. (You might be surprised.)
- Get an energy audit and tell your friends about it.
- Start to use accessible solar technologies, like a solar box cooker, solar lights, solar phone charger, and solar hot air on your home. Show others how it’s done.
- Organize field trips to see a passive house, or a solar home.
Hands-on Skillshare Events
- Host home weatherization work parties to teach people how to weatherize their homes and actually do it right then and there. (Cooperative Energy Futures organized weatherization work parties in the Powderhorn neighborhood.)
- Build a simple solar box cooker, or teach and learn low- and no-energy cooking techniques like haybox cooking, fermentation, dehydration and ceviche.
Start a Challenge to Change
Time-limited “action challenges” allow people to try a new activity without having to commit to a long-term change. Let people choose the actions they want to take to achieve a similar goal. Consider together what challenges you will face and how you will overcome them. Set a date for a report-back so people can celebrate success or brainstorm solutions to problems they experienced along the way.
- Transit challenge: Try getting where you’re going using only mass transit, carpooling, biking or walking for a day, a week, a month.
- Emergency preparedness challenge: Prepare for a power outage by living without energy for a day or 3 days.
Ask your neighborhood or town council to provide funds, or matching funds, to underwrite the cost of enhanced energy audits like the one provided by the Center for Energy & the Environment. Underwriting can make these valuable programs accessible for low-income families and senior citizens.
Energy IS a Justice Issue
Transition groups are a place where people can grapple with the moral questions of energy use and production and then seek paths for more just action. It can be particularly fruitful to work with community partners who share your concerns, like Interfaith Power and Light, the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, or Cooperative Energy Futures.
Reducing Costs/Enabling Change: Many energy improvements and cost-saving opportunities are technological fixes that may not be affordable to the people who need them the most. How can we make funding or products and technologies more accessible so our homes and small businesses are better weatherized and use less energy?
Reducing Risk: Some forms of energy are more polluting than others. Where is pollution being produced and who is being affected by it? What is the path to reduce risks for those who live nearby?
Shifting Our Impact Onto Others? While renewable energy has many benefits, it also has impacts. If your renewable energy is not located in your community, how is it affecting the community in which it is located? Some rural communities are feeling overwhelmed by large energy developments. Is removing vast acres of farmland from food production, reforestation or prairie restoration in order to site solar projects on it the best use of that land? Consider the premise of the Madelia Model, that a community can grow or collect its fuel from within a 25-mile radius. How much of our energy can be produced locally?
While developed nations have had abundant energy for more than a century, people in developing nations have often gone without. The reality is that while we face incredible challenges ahead that will require many of us to “powerdown,” some folks still need to get powered up.
There are basic technologies that can improve the lives of the poor in developing nations and you can have an impact with your dollars.
- Consider becoming part of the online microfinance community of KIVA, and join the Transition NOW! Team. At KIVA, a $25 investment is paired with other $25 investments to fund things like solar projects, water projects, farming projects.*
- Research impactful businesses like BioLite, who use their profits to fund work in poor communities. Biolite sells clean-energy camping products in the US to bring clean cooking, lighting and phone charging energy to ½ million people in India and Africa.*
If you’re looking for a place to do some carbon offsetting, consider investing in practical solutions that meet the needs of the 1.2 billion global citizens without access to energy.