Sustainability in Washington Grove
Grove residents are more keenly interested in climate change and sustainability than ever. This interest led to the formation of the Sustainability Group, which is developing a plan for climate action in the Grove.
- replacing fossil fuel-based electricity with renewable energy sources;
- replacing fossil fuel-based heating with electric systems;
- reducing energy use in our buildings via cost-effective retrofits;
- expanding use of electric vehicles (EVs) and equipment, installing charging stations, and promoting mass transit and biking;
- offsetting carbon emissions through optimal forest and land management;
- sharing information on ways to reduce our carbon footprint; and
- adapting to hotter, wetter, wilder weather.
Key elements include:
- surveying and analyzing residential energy use;
- promoting the Maryland Electric Choice program;
- continuing to explore community solar;
- encouraging conversions of oil and gas furnaces to electric;
- evaluating food and yard waste management solutions; and
- expanding information resources and communication vehicles;
and in the longer term,
- encouraging electric vehicles and charging stations in Town;
- converting Town buildings and equipment to lower emissions;
- promoting residential heating conversions;
- encouraging home retrofits to reduce energy use; and
- involving Grove youth in sustainability projects.
Climate Actions Grovers Can Take
- Use less stuff and reduce your waste
- Choose renewable energy sources via MD Electric Choice
- Assess your carbon footprint
- Schedule home energy audit
- Try composting and sustainable landscaping
- Engage your whole family in sustainability activities
- Join the Sustainability Group!!
Learn more about specific actions you can take by clicking on the targets in the drop-down menu below.
Switching to Energy Choice
These listed Washington Grove neighbors have switched their electricity supplier. Each household estimates savings between $45 and $235 per year, and their electricity is coming from State-verified renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. It’s easy to choose an electricity supplier and save money while helping to protect our climate. Will you join them?
Need advice or help in making the switch? Call any of these neighbors, or view our recent presentation on the Maryland Electric Choice Program. If you do switch electricity supplier, please let us know by sending a note to Bob Booher at [email protected] or Tom Land at [email protected]. Thanks!
TIP: There’s free food in your yard, high in micronutrients and with no packaging! Try cicadas fried, roasted, raw, on pizza, in tacos, or dipped in chocolate. Cicadas also help plants grow by aerating and enriching the soil, and their voices drown out traffic noise!
Save $$ and the Environment: Make the Switch to Renewable Electricity
You can do something about climate change. The Maryland Electric Choice program makes it easy to buy electricity generated from renewable sources such as sun and wind. Many Town residents have made the switch to suppliers of renewable energy.
Your Pepco bill has two sections about charges; one details the delivery charges and the other shows the supply charges. Since Pepco is the only electricity distributor in our region, delivery charges will always be from Pepco. Pepco is also your supplier if you have not chosen another. Currently, Pepco’s electricity is only 7% from renewable sources.
Choose instead an alternate supplier that provides electricity from up to 100% renewable sources. Go to the Maryland Electric Choice program website and click on “Shop Now.” You will see a list of suppliers licensed and regulated by the Maryland Public Service Commission. It’s easy to compare them by price, length of contract, and energy source. Many will lower your electric bill!
Even when you have chosen an alternate supplier, you will still get just one electric bill, from Pepco. It’s easy to sign up, easy to change suppliers when your contract ends, and easy to follow your costs on your Pepco bill.
Make a real difference for the environment. Switching to electricity from renewable sources supports the development and expansion of renewable energy and helps the country—and the world–reach climate change goals.
Email or call Tom Land, [email protected], 240-801-0646.
Home Energy Audits
Our homes in the Grove tend to fall into three categories when it comes to energy efficiency. Those built originally as summer cottages with no insulation, those built with little concern for retaining heat or cooling before energy codes began requiring insulation, and a few built after the 1970s with ever increasing levels of insulation and efficiency. Many of the first two groups have made gradual improvements in insulation, storm windows and doors, efforts to deal with air leakage, and more efficient heating and cooling.
- How can you know how well your house is performing?
- How can you tell how much the improvements have helped?
- How can you determine whether there are more worthwhile improvements to make?
For those of us without that expertise, the first step is an Energy Performance Assessment or Home Energy Audit. You can research and contract one on your own or take advantage of
Pepco’s assistance in procuring the services. Their website offers three paths:
- The first is a free Virtual Home Energy Checkup where you fill out a questionnaire and receive an assessment and review without a site visit. It also then offers various free energy products including LED light bulbs, low-flow shower heads, pipe insulation, and power strips.
- The second is a free Quick Home Energy Checkup with a home visit by a technician who will visually examine doors, windows, furnace, AC, water heater, lighting etc. The technician will provide a report with recommendations and also the free products above. They also provide lists of approved contractors that can do some of the recommended work.
- The third is the Home Performance Assessment with EnergyStar Program. These are done by your choice of professionals certified by the Building Performance Institute from their ample approved list. The best firms do a thorough investigation of your heating and cooling equipment, doors and windows, insulation levels, ventilation, attics, crawl spaces, basements, pipe and duct insulation, water heater, humidifiers, appliances and lighting. A test for air leakage is done with a blower door device that pressurizes the house and infrared cameras that detect gaps in insulation. A report and recommendations are provided along with targeted advice as to which best fit your circumstances.
Learn more on Pepco’s Energy Assessments page.
Rebates for many of the recommendations are available from Pepco and they will do the paperwork to secure them. Pepco will cover up to $7500 of work. Many of the technician companies also execute some or all of the work or make recommendations of those that do. The audit is generally a $400 – $600 value but Pepco picks up all but $100.
Energy audit guidance is also available from the DC Consumer Checkbook and, if you join, assessments of companies. Learn more about what DC Consumer Checkbook provides.
These two sources can be used together of course, to select the best company to meet your needs. Or you can contact us (Bob Booher 240-688-8611) with any questions or recommendations of your own. Remember that there are tax credits for much of the work as well. We will be providing info on those later. Let’s start moving toward Net Zero.
Your Carbon Footprint
What’s Your Carbon Footprint and Why Does it Matter?
Your carbon footprint is your total output of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). When we drive and travel, when we heat our homes with oil or gas (or with electricity generated by fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas), and even when we purchase goods that are farmed, manufactured or shipped, GHGs (predominately CO2) are emitted.
GHGs have increased steadily since the preindustrial era, due almost entirely to human activity. As atmospheric CO2 rises, it causes more heat to be trapped in the atmosphere (“greenhouse effect”), raising global temperatures, which fuels climate change. Scientists predict that rising global temperature will produce more frequent extreme weather events (e.g., heat waves, hurricanes).
Estimate Your Household’s Carbon Footprint
There are many online calculators to help you estimate your carbon footprint and learn how to reduce it. They vary in the areas they address, their level of detail and assumptions. Some emphasize household energy and auto transportation, while others include diet, air travel and shopping habits. Thus, you will likely see differences in total carbon footprints, but compare your results to the average results.
For a start, try this carbon calculator from the Nature Conservancy or this one from the U.S. EPA. If you want to dig deeper into this topic, do a web search for “carbon footprint calculators” and you will see other options.
There are also calculators for kids, like this one from EnergyStar (PDF).
How Can You Visualize the Impact and Magnitude of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions?
The results of carbon footprint calculators are typically expressed in pounds, tons (2000 pounds), or metric tons (2204 pounds) of CO2. It may be helpful to think about a practical implication of carbon emissions. For example, a 2016 study in Science reported that for each metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted anywhere on earth, three square meters (32.3 square feet) of Arctic summer sea ice are lost.
Do you want to envision a metric ton of carbon dioxide gas? See these illustrations of metric tons of CO2 as 3-D shapes in familiar settings.
Ideas to Reduce Your Laundry Energy Use
Want to wring a bit of energy efficiency out of your laundry energy use? Perhaps some of these ideas will work for you:
🧺 If the temperature of the water in your tank is set at “Scorching,” lower it and save on heating the water.
🧺 Most likely your clothes will get just as clean in cold water as hot, so spare the hot water and select the “Cold” setting when you can.
🧺 If your clothes didn’t just come off a shift on the factory floor, they can probably get plenty clean on a shorter wash cycle than the full, going-on-forever wash cycle.
🧺 Running full loads means running fewer loads.
🧺 Stick a pin in it…a clothespin, that is. Yup, it’s old-fashioned but it works—line dry your laundry outside or inside. Inside line or rack drying in winter gives the added benefit of putting the moisture in the air when we need the humidity. And you can always fluff up the rough towels in the dryer after nature has taken out most of the dampness.
We hope some of these ideas work for you and you can squish your laundry energy consumption down a bit.
Keep Your Cool and Lower Your Energy Use
Love the sun but not the heat in your house? Here are some ideas that may help lower your air conditioning use:
🌞 Wake up before the sun and open windows to let the cooler night air flow in and the hot air escape. Then, close things up tightly as soon as the heat hits your house.
🌞 Manage your drapes, shades, and blinds: close everything up on the sunny side of your house to block all that heat. Reopen when the sun shifts away from your windows.
🌞 Ceiling fans can keep you comfortable and lessen the need for air conditioning. Here’s a tip: In the summer, set your ceiling fans to rotate counterclockwise, causing a nifty breeze from the downdraft. In the winter, set your ceiling fans to turn clockwise, gently circulating the toasty air and warming the room.
🌞 If you have the option in your home, spend more time (even sleeping) on the lower, cooler levels.
Thank you for helping lower our carbon footprint.
Banish the Vampire in Your Home
Vampire energy is wasted electricity that leaks from appliances that are turned off but still plugged in. The less of these critters the better for energy efficiency. Here are some ideas to banish vampire energy:
🧛♂️ When you’re in the market for a new appliance, look for the Energy Star label to get higher efficiency. Quite likely you’ll earn back in long-term savings any premium you have to pay upfront.
🧛♂️ Plug multiple devises into power strips and then turn the strip off when not in use.
🧛♂️ When your phones, tablets, and other devices are charged, disconnect them to stop the electrical drain.
🧛♂️ Of course, you will need to keep many appliances plugged in all the time (think refrigerator!), but some that aren’t used as often (electric toothbrush, coffee pot) might be disconnected until needed, lessening the amount of energy that leaks away.
Thank you for working to lower our carbon 👣 (footprint).
Free Trees to Fight Against Global Warming
Planting trees is a key tool in the fight against global warming. Climate change is caused by an increase in greenhouse gases (primarily carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere. Trees help to reduce these gases by taking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it as wood (“carbon sequestration”). We also depend on trees and other plants to produce the oxygen that we breathe. Trees planted near your home can reduce energy used for cooling in the summer, and their roots reduce water runoff and erosion. Planting native species of trees supports local ecosystems, providing habitat and food for birds, mammals, and insects.
Would you like a FREE shade tree for your yard? Through the Tree Montgomery program, Montgomery County will help you select an appropriate shade tree, send people to plant the tree, and provide follow-up care and inspections. When installed, the trees will be more than 10 feet tall and they will eventually grow to more than 50 feet tall. Go to Tree Montgomery to learn more and to apply for a tree.
The county has already planted more than 3,700 shade trees; this is a popular program, and there is a waiting list for free trees. Kitty Seiferlein, a member of the Sustainability Group, reports that several years ago, as part of this program, a county arborist advised her family on tree selection and planted two young trees (a black gum and hackberry); both are doing well today. Although she had to wait a while after applying, she thought it was well worth the wait.
Other tree planting programs. If you don’t want to wait for a free shade tree from the County, here are a couple of options to help reduce the cost of new trees.
- Marylanders Plant Trees (Maryland Forest Service). Download a coupon to receive $25 off the purchase of a native tree at participating nurseries across the state.
- Reforest Montgomery (Montgomery Planning Department). Download a coupon off the purchase of a native tree at participating nurseries. Combine it with the Marylanders Plant Trees coupon for added savings.
TIP: Protect young trees that sprout in a suitable place in your yard naturally. A little fence will save them from the mower and give them a chance to grow into big trees. It’s another way to acquire free trees.
Monday, October 18, 2021, 7:30 pm
- UN IPCC’s Landmark Sixth Assessment Report Characterizes Climate Change as Widespread, Rapid, and Intensifying
The latest activities of the Sustainability Group are described in the Sustainability section of the most recent monthly Town Bulletin:
- The Sustainability chapter of the most recent draft of the Town’s 2021 Comprehensive Plan (PDF) begins on page 121 of the draft plan