What you can do locally to protect our environment
Opt up for 100% green energy through your new Community Choice Energy provider.
In San Mateo County, Peninsula Clean Energy, the county’s new non-profit electricity provider, is now delivering electricity to homes and business throughout the county at a lower rate than PG&E. And you can also “opt up” to receive 110% renewable and carbon-free electricity via the Eco100 option. See www.peninsulacleanenergy.com/opt-up/ for details.
In Santa Clara County, Silicon Valley Clean Energy will be enrolling all electricity customers by July 2017 (except those in Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Milpitas and San Jose). Customers can choose the Green Start program for 50% renewables, or opt up to GreenPrime for 100% renewables that are also carbon free. Go to www.svcleanenergy.org for more information.
Explore the switch to an Electric Vehicle (EV).
Acterra’s Go EV! Ambassadors are EV owners who are willing to share their experiences with you – and let you test drive their car if you like! The cars range from Teslas to Leafs to KIA Soles to Fiat 500s and more! Contact Ariane at ArianeE@acterra.org or sign up here to request your EV consultation by phone or in person.
Consider your options for going solar.
Google’s Project Sunroof gives you an easy way to plug in your address and your monthly electricity costs to determine how much money you could save by installing a solar system. The website offers you options for leasing, or financing for loans or outright purchase. If you go solar now, you can grandfather in the net metering payback rates before PG&E reduces them again. Federal tax credits are still valid for 2017, but it’s unclear how long they will last. So this year may be the last best chance to save big with solar.
If you’re ready to go solar, contact SunWork for an estimate.
As a non-profit, SunWork works with volunteers and trainees, thus reducing the cost of their installations. This makes solar more affordable for those who have low electric bills or who have low-cost municipal energy (like in Palo Alto). They also offer a free orientation session that explains the basics of solar, electricity and construction. It’s aimed at potential volunteers and homeowners alike. Go to www.sunwork.org and click on Upcoming Events for details.
Get started with a Clipper card.
Hopping onto a bus or CalTrain is much easier if you have a pre-paid Clipper card in your pocket — and you get a reduced fare, too. Go to www.clippercard.com to sign up for your personal card and load $20 onto it. Then you’re all set to try out using any one of a dozen Bay Area transit systems to head to the ballpark, a shopping expedition, a night on the town – or just a meeting in a nearby city.
Purchase and install an advanced power strip.
Also known as “Smart Strips,” these power strips not only provide surge protection and multiple outlets, but they help reduce your “vampire load” – the electricity wasted when plugged in devices like speaker systems, printers and other peripherals pull a small but continuous amount of electricity from the socket even when you think they are “off.” These “Vampire loads” add up to about $200 in annual energy costs for an average home; you can reduce this by spending about $35 for a “smart strip.” They are easy to install and when you turn your main device (computer or TV monitor) off, it cuts off power automatically to unneeded peripherals, while keeping the power on for video recorders or routers. Learn more at the National Renewable Energy Lab website.
Plant Fruit Trees and Take a Home Gardening Class.
Common Ground Garden in Palo Alto is offers a variety of classes. Their demonstration garden offers volunteer opportunities for working with school classes. Get on the mailing list for more spring garden classes at commongroundgarden.org
Get Some Exercise in our Local Open Space Preserves.
The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District offers dozens of docent-led hikes each month. There are 23 preserves from the hills above San Mateo to Mount Umunhum above Los Gatos. Get some exercise and enjoy the vistas by taking a hike in these taxpayer-supported open spaces; they are yours to enjoy! Check out the calendar of scheduled hikes and the trail maps.