Climate change is a global challenge, but there is a lot we can do locally to have an impact on the global system. Addressing the systems that cause climate change, like our economic system's reliance on fossil fuels, for example, requires a new, systems-change approach. This page offers ideas for actions that, if done collectively, can lead to systems change, in addition to actions to reduce your individual impact on the environment.
Types of Changes Required
Systems change seeks to address the root causes of climate change. To change systems, we can all work together to leverage our political, economic and social systems in ways that are better for the climate. While changing systems is difficult, it's a great place for individuals to participate.
National, state and local policy has a big impact on climate. Participate in the political system through voting, lobbying and coalition-building to support policies that can reduce our impact on the planet make our community more resilient.
Social Circle Change
Studies show that people tend to trust information from their friends and family most. You can help others act on climate through your personal conversations. And, while you're bringing others along on a journey to solve climate change, you just might be building a group to help with political or systems change.
Sometimes systems change can feel daunting. There are always opportunities to make changes to your own life to help the climate. Things like making your home more efficient, eating less meat or choosing to walk or bike more is better for the planet and can also have health benefits.
Guide to Systems Change
- Participate in policy development at the national, state or local scale
- Communicate with others about policy change, candidates and issues
- Divest from companies that profit off climate change
- Make purchases that align with your values
- Consider the climate record of your bank, insurance companies and lenders
- Support a culture that prioritizes protecting our planet
- Leverage social media to share information and ideas on climate change
- Build relationships with others to promote climate-friendly lifestyles
- Communicate with others about climate innovations
- Participate in pilot programs or cutting-edge actions
Take Action At Home
Maximize Energy Efficiency
The average home leaks about three times the amount of air it should, meaning the air that's been cooled or heated is slipping through the cracks--taking money and comfort with it.
When your house is better sealed against temperature changes, not only is it more comfortable for you and your family, but you also save money on energy costs. Efficiency measure like air sealing and attic insulation make our homes more energy-efficient while also ensuring it’s pleasant for everyone inside. Maximizing your energy efficiency involves tackling things like improving air sealing, more efficient windows and adding insulation. These measures help the heated or cooled air you paid for stay in your home or business!
- Not sure where to start? The EnergySmart program is a great one-stop shop for energy efficiency improvement help. An energy advisor can answer questions and guide you through the process of energy efficiency upgrades—from prioritizing projects to finding contractors and applying for incentives or financing!
Get Renewable Power
Solar energy costs have dropped over 50% since 2011. Powering life with solar -- both our homes and cars -- can reduce monthly energy spending and pay for itself in as few as six years.
Solar panels on your home help build local energy infrastructure and create clean energy for you to use. The cost of solar panels continues to go down, meaning a home array is more affordable than ever. Having solar on your home means predictable and decreased monthly electricity costs, while also powering your home and potentially your car with clean energy right from the sun. Systems can be sized specifically to meet your home and/or transportation energy needs.
- How to Go Solar
- EnergySmart energy advisors can answer questions and guide you through the process of installing solar from finding contractors to applying for incentives or financing.
- Sign up for Xcel Energy’s renewable programs, Renewable*Connect and Community Solar Gardens.
Use Clean Transportation
In addition to walking and biking, consider electric vehicles as a clean transportation option. Electric vehicles have longer ranges than ever, and with increased investment in charging infrastructure across Colorado and beyond, they can be a great option to meet many people's needs.
Because they don’t burn anything to create movement, electric cars are safer, cleaner and significantly more energy and cost-efficient. Electric vehicles also have fewer parts to maintain or replace, resulting in lower maintenance costs over time.
These reduced costs mean real money savings. The average electric vehicle in Boulder, charging off the grid, costs around $.20/mi to operate. By comparison, the average gas powered car costs $.45/mi or more. If a household produced its own electricity off of solar, the costs of driving an EV would be even lower!
Electrify Heating and Cooling
Many homes have furnaces and water heaters that burn natural gas (methane). Aside from the health and safety issues, most of these appliances waste over 30% of the energy they use. Switching to high-efficiency heat pumps can make our homes more comfortable and healthier.
Using clean, renewable electricity, electric heat pumps can provide both heating (space and water) and cooling. This feature is especially important because summers in Boulder are already getting warmer. The projected days over 95 have already doubled in the last 20 years (from 4 to over 8) and are projected to double again in the next 15-20 years. Using a high efficiency heat pump can keep your home comfortable and your energy bills affordable.
- EnergySmart energy advisors can answer questions and guide you through the process of replacing appliances, including finding contractors and applying for incentives or financing.