Even small actions can make a big impact. If everyone in Fairfax County took simple steps to improve their energy use at home and at work, we would be on our way to achieving our greenhouse gas reduction goals. Every choice you make matters. The actions listed below are simple ways you can improve your energy use on a daily basis. This list will be updated periodically to reflect new and different ideas you can try.
Simply turn off the lights when you leave a room. Every time you flip the switch on, you pull power from the grid. That power is often generated by burning fossil fuels. Flip the switch off to help conserve energy and reduce demand.
Switch to LEDs. Light emitting diodes are extremely efficient as compared to other commonly available bulbs like incandescent and compact fluoride light bulbs. Learn more about LEDs here.
Invest in smart power strips to help manage your energy load. Smart strips have the ability to turn themselves off when the devices plugged into them go into standby mode.
Turn off and/or unplug devices you’re not using. In addition to having smart strips for devices that pull power when they’re in standby mode, be sure to actively turn off or unplug those devices you’re not using.
Change the power and sleep settings on your personal computer or monitor. Electronics like PCs, monitors, printers and scanners can suck energy when you’re not looking. Proactively adjust the settings to meet your actual needs.
Install weather stripping around doors and windows. Cracks or gaps around your exterior windows and doors can sap your hot air in the winter and negate the hard work your HVAC unit is doing in the summer. Seal up those drafty spots with easy-to-use weather stripping.
Vanquish your energy vampires. Turn off the lights and look around. Do you see the LED standby lights glowing in your living room, bedroom or home office? These are energy vampires, pulling power even when you’re not using them. Plug these suckers into smart strips or unplug them when they’re not needed for a length of time.
Install door sweeps on your exterior doors. Last but certainly not least, don’t forget the door sweeps. The gaps at the bottom of your doors can be just as much trouble as the spaces around the sides of the frame.
Buy or build a rain barrel. By collecting rain water and repurposing it to water your gardens or wash your car, you can reduce the amount of water pulled from the municipal system. A good deal of energy goes into processing water for drinking and delivering it to your tap, so any reduction is a good reduction.
Take shorter showers. By the same token, reducing your time in the shower can make a real difference. A regular shower head could use up to 10 gallons per minute. Cutting your shower time from eight minutes down to four can mean real water, energy and money savings.
Look for Water Sense options. What ENERGY STAR does for energy efficiency, Water Sense does for water efficiency. Look for the Water Sense label on plumbing fixtures (faucets, toilets, etc.) to save up to 20 percent more water. Water use is connected to energy use, which is connected to greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the most important steps we can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Fairfax County is to transition to electric vehicles. Our roads are packed with cars and trucks, imagine if all of them were electric. As the grid becomes greener, our choice to drive electric vehicles will become more and more impactful. Use the suggested steps below to get started on your journey to EV ownership.
Download the Fairfax County EV Decision-Making Kit and resource guide and use the checklist to assess your readiness to own an EV.
Visit the Department of Energy fuel economy website to compare and contrast available models of EVs.
Visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center website to assess the availability of public charging stations where you live, work, and play.
Get your finances in order and explore available tax incentives for the purchase of certain, new electric vehicles.
Bring your downloadable decision-making kit along to the dealer to be sure you ask all the right questions before you buy.
Though on-site renewables represent a relatively small portion of the greenhouse gas reductions we need to achieve, it is still very important that we install and use solar systems whenever possible. Evaluating the solar potential of a property is a critical first step in the journey toward installing solar panels and battery storage. Take the first step. Explore solar systems!
Check the solar potential of your property using the NOVA Solar Map from the Northern Virginia Regional Commission.
Estimate the energy production and cost of a solar system for your property using the PVWatts Calculator from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Sign up for Solarize to receive a free, full-scale assessment of your property by a pre-qualified vendor.
If your property is a good candidate for solar, move ahead with a Solarize contract to receive a 10-15 percent discount off the market rate of the solar system.