Take Action

We are constantly developing more actions that you can take, and the journey never ends, but we also want to help you by giving you information on the significance of each climate action in reducing the carbon footprint , how easy it is to perform, the economic feasibility and the steps needed to apply the action. We have developed a list of actions and tried to help you with Energy Action Cards that you can download. Each card includes information about the action, who to consult for guidance, how others have done it, what they learned and how you can get on a fast track. Look through the actions and see what you can do. Let us know your feedback, additional experiences and which actions you have chosen to implement.

Then start: Apply the card’s guidance, note and share with us your actual experience in using the card via email to info@climatebuddies.org, plus your suggestions for strengthening and adding actions cards.  If you do this in the structure used for all cards, you will become co-authors of a living repository, accelerating the efforts of those who come after you.

The actions are presented in the table below. The table includes the following columns:

  • The Action title
  • The Carbon Impact It expresses an estimate of  the significance of the action, with 1 being highest and 5 being lowest.
  • The anticipated ROI (return on investment) is an estimate of the economic impact of the action; literally it expresses how quickly you earn back your dollar investment through energy savings.
  • Remarks express contextual information, and for some actions, adequate application information.
  • Action Card contains the live links to guide successful application, or to access other tools on the site.

If you know of more actions, and the direct and indirect energy impact of each, please let us know by sending an email to info@climatebuddies.org and we will incorporate them in the (continuously updated) list. If you like you can download an empty template and send it back to us.

You may also find it helpful to download the entire energy action list in an Excel-file and use it for an assessment of most promising feasible application, or for monitoring/displaying your team’s progress. You can use the checklist for an audit.


Energy Action Card – Audit Checklist    
  Carbon Impact* Anticipated ROI (months) Remarks Action Card
Conduct an Climate Performance Assessment n/a 0 This action will present you with an overview of the activities and spending items that have the greatest climate impact associated with it. It will help you prioritize where to focus your efforts and to select the actions from below that matter most to your situation Carbon Footprint Estimator
Building Envelope
Conduct an Initial Energy Audit 2 0 This action tests your building for energy conservation and efficiency and makes recommendations for improvement. Part of this test could be actual measurements, for example: Blower door testing; Infrared Camera; Smoke Gun testing; Blower Door; and  Air Sealing Door assessment  download
Install efficient lighting 3 12 Replace incandescent light bulbs with CFLs, LED, sensors, and retrofit Tubular Fluorescent Lights from T-12’s to T-8’s, Retrofit/Replace Emergency Exit Signs with LED inserts. CFLs use 75 percent less electricity and produce 90% less heat.
Install solar screen or other shading on windows that have more sun than 1 hour per day 4 18 This action reduces heat transfer and greatly reduces air conditioning requirements  download
Check HVAC ducts for leakages 1 3 This action detects leaks which can cause an average 30% air conditioning air loss and greatly affect summer electricity bills.  download
Increase the albedo (lighter color) of the roof, walls and pavement 3 18 Lighter colors (white) reflects more sunlight and therefor heat. A white roof reduces the cooling needs and outdoor temperature. It will also reduce heat related degradation of your roof, it will last longer.  download
Replace single pane windows with double pane low-E glass 2 >96 Double pane, low-E glass can greatly reduce loss of heat and cool and reduce electricity bills.
Install on-site renewable energy generation 1 60 Alternatives such as solar PV, solar water heater, geothermal, can be a way to lower energy bills and contribute to carbon neutrality. Several rebates are available.  download
Improve attic insulation and ventilation 2 36 To maximize energy savings, install attic insulation to an R22 or higher rating  (14-16 inches). Proper ventilation reduces the summer temperature and moisture buildup. Some new construction used R30 for the attic, brings in the ducts in the conidtioned space and uses R19 for all walls.  download
Place timed lighting or occupancy sensors in common areas 5 18 This ensures lights are only used when people are present  download
Weatherize buildings 3 12 Caulk and weather strip your windows, doors, vents, and any other potential air leaks  download
Use sub-metering for utilities 4 8 Where advantageous, install utility meters on areas that can be controlled separately  download
Buy Energy Star certified equipment 3 36 Energy Star rated equipment uses far less energy than non-rated equipment. This is especially true for washers, driers, TVs. When buying an appliance, remember that it has two price tags: what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy and water it uses. ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models. www.cee1.org has a list of equipment that outperform energy star appliances by up to 30%.
Maintain HVAC systems; upgrade to a higher SEER number when possible 2 48 To maximize energy savings, shade the outside unit, clean the coils on the outside unit, remove grass and weeds that may block air flow at the bottom, replace your filters, get an annual tune up, meet mininum SEER building code requirements (currently 12). Check air filters once a month and replace at least every three months as dirty filters make your system run and work harder. If your air-conditioner is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient model that can use up to 40% less energy than older models. Ensure any new unit is properly sized and correctly installed. Bigger is not always better.
Install programmable thermostat(s) 2 6 This allows you to maximize energy savings. Recommended settings are 78 degrees in the summer and 67 degrees in the winter. This feature also allows you to turn systems off or way up/down when not needed. Set it to raise the temperature during the day when you’re not home and to cool the house down before you arrive home. Properly used, a programmable thermostat can save 10-20% of your energy use  download
Use fans to cool 3 6 The use of fans makes the air move and feel more comfortable at temperatures that use less energy. Use ceiling or portable fans. Fans move the air and make the room feel four to six degrees cooler and will use much less energy than the air conditioner.  download
Use an energy star copier 4 36 Copiers are usually expensive to operate and are used a lot in congregations. Use a copier that “hibernates when not in use” (to prevent vampire loads) or just turn them off. Use paper from FSC sources with recycled content. Print paper double -sided. Do the same for externally printed material.
Use most efficient settings on freezers and refrigerators 3 0 People often set freezers and refrigerators much colder than necessary, needlessly using additional energy. Freezers: between 0 and 5 degrees; refrigerators between 35 and 38 degrees
Use most efficient settings for computers and screens 4 0 To save energy, set all computers and printers to go into sleep mode after a set time of non-use, discontinue the use of screen savers, use laptops instead of desktops, use LCD screens. This will not only use less energy, but will also run cooler and reduce the need for air-conditioning. Turn machines completely off at a power strip when not in use.  download
Turn off unused computers/TVs/equipment 4 3 Equipment such as computers and TVs use almost as much power when not used as when used.  Power them completely down at night or other long periods of non-use. Use power strips. Even when turned off, electronic and other home office equipment continues to consume electricity when plugged into the wall. Shutting off power at a power strip will eliminate this standby electricity consumption.
Make efficient use of hot water heaters 3 3 To maximize energy savings, set to lower temperature (120 degrees), insulate, install timer on an electric heater to match user profiles , i.e., off when it is not used. Install solar water heaters with rebates.  download
Make efficient use of inside water 5 6 To maximize water savings, use low flow faucets (aerators <1 gpm), toilets (<1.6 gpf), urinals (<1 gpf) and shower heads. Post signs in restrooms and kitchen areas to encourage water conservation.
Use timers on appropriate equipment. 4 3 To maximize energy savings, turn off equipment such as vending machines, water coolers, etc during hours of non-use. Vending machine lights can be turned off at night.  download
Plant native drought tolerant plants and trees. 5 24 Native and drought tolerant plants are less prone to disease, need less fertilization and water. Plant deciduous trees on the south side of buildings. This action will shield building from the sun in the summer and let the sun in during the winter.
Increase shading 4 24 Shading reduces the direct impact of sunlight, and will reduce the outdoor temperature and energy storage in brick, concrete and pavement so it will cool off faster at night and not get as hot during the day. Adding trees and shrubs on the east, west, and south sides of your house can cut your cooling costs.  download
Harvest rain water 4 48 Use rain barrels to collect water for grounds use
Make efficient use of outside water 4 24 Convert lawn to xeriscape with native plants that have low water requirements
Use efficient grounds maintenance equipment 5 36 Buy lawnmowers, trimmers, etc that are rated highest for fuel and power efficiency. Electric equipment is preferred.  download
Encourage appropriate seasonal dress 4 0 Encourage congregants to dress in a way that minimizes use of climate control.
Encourage the use of efficient transportation 3 0 Encourage congragants to carpool, use fuel efficient, hybrid or electric cars and ride bikes to service where appropriate parking is available.
Sponsor Energy Offset events (fundraisers) 2 0 Raise funds to purchase carbon offsets.
Encourage staycations 3 0 Encourage congregants to stay closer to home for vacations in order to save fuel associated with transportation
Encourage congregants to eat more vegetables and less meat 3 0 Production of vegetables requires much less energy than the production of meat.  download
Encourage congregants to sign their own Carbon Positive Covenant 1 0 You can lead by example, invite your congregants to make commitements and report on progress.
Purchase Green Choice from Austin Energy 1 0 Greatly reduces your carbon footprint  download
Track utility usage 3 0 Ensures awareness of usage and provides metrics for tracking improvement over time
Conduct recurrent energy audits 2 0 Over time, many factors can change and a recurring audit can bring potential energy savings up to date.
Invest in renewable energy using Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) 2 0 This is a relatively easy way to become carbon neutral.
Invest in renewable energy using Carbon Offsets 1 0
Sign the Carbon Positive Covenant 1 0 The convenant represents your commitment and is an important signal to the congregation about the important of energy conversation, efficiency and use or renewables.
Select suppliers based  on / ask suppliers about their activities 3 0 Buy materials from suppliers that use renewables energy, are local, use recyclable materials, make recyclable products
Recycle 4 0 Recycling saves a tremendous amount of energy by not having to manufacture materials from scratch.