Energy tips

Even small changes in your energy consumption and living habits can go a long ways toward protecting our planet.

A great way to get started is to determine your current carbon footprint and where you are consuming the most energy. Here are two useful sites:

PG&E’s Carbon Footprint Calculator

Next, here are 15 favorite simple ways you can save energy everyday. These are our favorite and some of the easiest and highest impact things you can do to lower your carbon footprint.

Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs

CFLs last up to 10 times longer and use 75% less energy than the incandescent bulbs most people have in their homes. Sure, they cost more, but they’ll save you money in the long run.

Take the SF Climate Challenge

Get started on the SF Climate Challenge by getting together a team of 5 or more households and signing up on the SF Climate Challenge website. At the end of October, begin doing all you can to conserve energy in your home. At the end of the PG&E billing period, the SF Climate Challenge will we compare your energy use during the contest period with your use from the same time during 2006. Then they’ll award prizes of up to $5000 to the teams who’ve conserved the most energy.

Take public transportation

Driving your car just 10 miles less each week for a year would save the environment from several hundred pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Unplug appliances

Nearly 10% of the average electricity bill is due to idle appliances and electronics left plugged in. Unplug DVD players, TVs, microwaves, computers, mobile phone chargers, and the like when they’re not in use.

Vote green

See “Get out the green vote” on the right-hand column of this page for information about how you can get involved to influence politics on a local, state and national level.

Replace old appliances

Old washers, driers, and refrigerators consume a lot more energy than newer appliances, especially those with an Energy Star® rating. As an added incentive to replace old appliances, PG&E offers rebates on new energy-efficient purchases.

Use less water

Low-flow showerheads, and cold-wash laundry cycles can reduce the amount of household energy used by 14% to 25%. The same goes for turning down your hot water heater to 120 degrees. Save up to 100 pounds of carbon dioxide per year by running your dishwasher only when there’s a full load.

Drink from the tap

The Bay Area’s tap water exceeds the quality of many bottled waters. By not buying plastic water bottles, you save energy used to produce and dispose of bottles. If you buy plastic water bottles, be sure to reuse and recycle them.

Adjust your thermostat

A minor change of your thermostat setting to +2° in the summer and -2° in the winter can save your hundreds of dollars in electricity bills and our planet hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

Check your tire pressure

Cars are most fuel-efficient when tires are properly inflated. Also, take heavy items out of your trunk to get better mileage and think about upgrading to an energy-efficient, biodiesel or hybrid vehicle.

Take a vacation near home

Airplanes produce a huge amount of emissions. Instead of flying, consider exploring places closer to home–go camping, visit local museums, or get to know a nearby town.

Reduce, reuse, and recycle

Donate old clothes and toys. Consider buying used products, rather than brand-new ones. Choose products with less packaging. Recycle glass, metal, aluminum, paper, and plastics – and even your cellphone and computer with the help of Green Citizen.


Composting helps the local economy, reduces trash in landfills, and creates nutrient-rich fertilizer. We’re lucky enough here in San Francisco to have a curb-side program. Order a compost bin from Sunset Scavenger Company.

Save a cow

Reduce the amount of animal products you eat. Livestock contribute about 20% of the total methane emissions in the U.S. By eating fewer animal products, our air will be cleaner, you will be healthier, and those cows, chickens, and sheep will be happier. For more information, check out Wikipedia.

Eat local and organic

Fruits, vegetables, and meat often travel thousands of miles to get to our plates. When possible, buy local produce, at places like the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays. You’ll be supporting the local economy as well as saving fuel. Also, organic farming boosts the environment by producing soil that is better able to take CO2 out of the atmosphere than conventional farms.

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