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Try 1, 2 or all 3 of the ideas below. Click on the buttons to jump right to the content.

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Switch to 100% Clean Energy

@home-1Heating and cooling your home and powering lights and appliances with electricity contributes nearly half* your family’s carbon footprint.

But what if you could cancel-out half of your greenhouse gases by sitting at your computer for a few minutes? You can.

It really is that easy to choosing the simple step to switch your home’s energy to greener sources.

The Greengrace team has done the work for you and partnered with Groundswell and Interfaith Power and Light.

Groundswell’s mission is to empower people by coming together and negotiating with clean electricity suppliers for the lowest electricity prices -  much lower electricity rates than individual households can access on their own.

Another benefit to joining Groundswell is that once your two-year contract expires and you must re-enroll, Groundswell does the work for you and reminds you to re-enroll and renegotiates future rates. Signing up with Groundswell means you’ve checked off the “buy green energy” to-do for as long as Groundswell exists.

Maryland’s energy deregulation in 1999 opened the window for wind. Deregulation means that while Maryland’s five utilities still own the lines that bring electricity into your home, competing firms can buy electricity and natural gas from different sources and sell it directly to consumers.

You won’t be the first to switch suppliers; over 500,000 Maryland homes (26 percent) have switched electricity and natural gas suppliers; over 50 percent of BGE residential customers have switched suppliers. SMECO doesn’t offer supplier choice-you need to call them for green options.

There’s even a climate-friendly natural gas product which can be purchased through Washington Gas Energy Services.

Sign up for Groundswell here

Click here for more detail about green electricity and climate-friendly natural gas

 

Complete a Home Energy Efficiency Audit and Get 50% Rebates

@home-2Maryland desperately wants you to plug up your leaky house in order to use less electricity. To get homeowners on board, the Empower Maryland program is offering 50 percent off (capped at $3,150) retrofit projects that make your home more energy efficient. The goal is simple, reduce electricity usage while reducing Maryland’s greenhouse gases.

Most Mid-Atlantic homes were not designed to be energy efficient. The end result is that many poorly insulated homes have air gaps in walls and duct work that are literally sucking money right out of your home.

What’s Empower Maryland and who is funding Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® rebates?

Empower Maryland is a five-year old state initiative aiming to reduce Maryland’s electricity usage 15 percent by 2015.  Each month, all Maryland electric customers pay a small surcharge based on usage that funds the Empower Maryland demand reduction and energy efficiency programs.

These programs are managed by Maryland’s five utility companies.  Marylanders can take advantage of lighting discounts, appliance rebates, heating and cooling system rebates and, the biggie, the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® half-off rebate for projects like insulation, air sealing and duct sealing.

How do I get a home energy efficiency audit & the rebates?

The list of steps below is for BGE customers, but the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® retrofit program is identical for all Maryland residents.

If you are not a BGE customer, click on the link below for your power utility’s program and information.  to find your utility’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® web site.)

Step 1: Complete a certified home energy audit: In order to participate in BGE’S Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® rebate program, your home needs to be inspected by a participating BGE energy auditor who will perform an in-depth energy efficiency inspection.

The term ‘energy audit’ may sound dry and technical, but unlike your home’s real estate inspection, energy auditors are sleuths looking for air leaks, toxins, drafts and how well your heating and cooling systems perform. And, your energy auditor completes your project’s rebate paperwork. The detailed energy audit and report usually cost $400 and BGE will rebate $300 of the audit cost. Your out-of-pocket cost is only $100.

Step 2: Review Energy Audit report: Your energy auditor will generate a report outlining your home’s energy issues and provide recommended remedies and estimated costs.

Step 3: Fix it: Decide what to fix. Most likely, your energy auditor can complete the home retrofit projects. If not, consult the approved list of contractors under your utility’s approved list of contractors.

Step 4: Test out: Once the work is done, your energy auditor will return and conduct a brief test comparing ‘before and after’ energy measurements. Your energy auditor will submit the final rebate paperwork to BGE.

Step 5: Ca$h check: Your rebate check arrives 6 weeks after your final paperwork is mailed.

Step 6: Be happy: Enjoy a bit of happiness as you open your utility bill and it’s lower than before and you’re doing your part in improving our environment.

Celebrate God’s Creation Day

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At our Episcopal Diocese of Maryland’s 230th Annual Convention, we passed a resolution 2014-08: Celebrate God’s Creation Day.

This resolution encourages all parishes to:

1. PLEDGE support and schedule an upcoming Sunday to celebrate God’s creation by taking specific actions that help to sustain and renew the life of the earth, including support of Maryland’s Clean Energy bill requiring Maryland utilities to choose 40% renewable sources of electricity (currently it’s 50/50 coal and nuclear.)

2. Encourage rectors/priests to challenge PARISHIONERS to PLEDGE support by taking specific actions that help to sustain and renew the life of the earth. Including a specific goal of 40% participation in switching to renewable sources of electricity (wind, solar) that supports our Diocesan commitment to the ELG (Ecumenical Leaders Group).

3. Build awareness for Maryland Episcopal Environmental Partners (MEEP) and its GreenGrace web resources created to help our community “celebrate God’s creation” every day of the year.

4.  Publicize and share the fruits of our labors:  Parishes that PLEDGE and accomplish their celebration Sundays will be applauded in various venues throughout the year and earn “GreenGrace” recognition for 2014-15.

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Click here to pledge online!

Identifying Suitable Dates:  Although any Sunday could be chosen, some Sundays within the liturgical calendar present useful connections for celebrating God’s creation and opportunities for worship (or parts of the worship service) outside.  The following are arranged in chronological order:

Sundays closest to Earth Day (Wednesday, 4/22/15) = 4/19/15 or 4/26/15. Earth Day is not an ecclesiastical feast day, but offers a suitable tie-in for the resolution.  In the Church Calendar, those Sundays are the Third and Fourth Sundays of Easter.

Rogation Sunday  (Sunday, 5/10/15, Sunday before Ascension.) Traditionally, the day when the Church has offered prayers for God’s blessings on the fruits of the earth and the labors of those who produce our food. Historically, has included a period of fasting and abstinence. Prayer for Rogation Days are found on p. 258 of BCP.

Sundays closest to the feast day of St. Peter [St. Peter and St. Paul] (June 29) = Sunday, 6/28/15. Some Episcopal parishes use the connection of St. Peter, the patron saint of fisherman, to conduct a “Blessing of the Fleet” for their local fishing/boating community.

Sundays closest to the feast day of St. Mary the Virgin (August 25) = 8/23/15 or Sunday 8/30/15. Historically in both the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church this feast (Dormition/Assumption) has included the Blessing of the Herbs and Flowers (e.g., The Roman Ritual, Volume III, pp. 89 ff.)  Some Episcopal parishes (esp. those leaning Anglo-Catholic) include a Blessing of the Herbs when celebrating this feast day.

Sundays closest to the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4) = 10/4/15. St. Francis credited with believing that nature was a mirror of God; he referred to all creatures as his “brothers” and “sisters.” St. Francis declared as the Patron of Ecology by Pope John Paul II in 1979. A popular day for pets and other animals to be blessed at church.

Here are some ideas for making the day an interesting and enjoyable one, followed by the text of the resolution.

Celebrate God’s Creation Day takes planning; many of the activities we do in the modern world involve electricity and autos. For instance, if you choose to disconnect from electronics for a day, you may need to alert your close friends and relatives that you are not answering your phone or email.

Low carbon-intensive activities include:

  1. Launch a parish-wide green energy initiative (see option #1 above) by promoting the Groundswell’s 100% clean energy home electricity choice product. Pass out sign-up cards, email the online interest sign-up form, make posters and slide shows explaining to your church community the value in a very simple, consumer-based switch from “dirty” energy to 100% clean energy.
  2. Plan a family-based outdoor activity- a hike, day of kayaking or paddling, bike riding, picnic, outdoor concert, or walk to church.
  3. Skip electronics for books (maybe Doctor Seuss’ The Lorax), write a letter, go for a walk, or visit a friend.
  4. Visit Earth Ministries Fast from Carbon guide and prayers for inspiration.
  5. Check out this creative Bible Study Carbon Sabbath plan.
  6. Meal planning:

6. Read outdoors, light candles at night, go to bed early, take a news fast, or go outside and garden. Play cards or board games. Visit a nature center or park.

7. Consider accomplishing some of the energy efficiency to-dos while celebrating God’s Creation Day:

  • Change light bulbs to energy-efficient LED or CFL varieties; don’t forget Maryland’s utility lighting rebates.
  • Add an “energy smart” power strip for electronics (TV, DVD, speakers, games) that automatically turns off power to all peripherals when you turn off your computer or entertainment center. Cutting electricity to electronic devices can avoid the stand-by mode which surprisingly uses up to 5% of your home’s electricity.
  • Turn your hot water heater temperature to 120˚ or lower. Even better, install a solar powered water heater.  Your water heater can account for 25% of your energy bill, so installing a solar powered water heater can provide quick energy savings.
  • Install programmable thermostats: Home temperatures should be optimal when people are home, and change when people are not home or asleep under covers. Consider turning temperature up on air conditioners in summer and down on heaters in winter, and adjusting your body temperature in other energy friendly ways (ceiling fans and shades in summer, warm clothes in winter).

8. If movie time is needed, check out Chasing Ice – on Netflix. An extraordinary and gorgeous movie that recounts a photographer’s project to photograph hourly the world’s rapidly melting glaciers.  Or, rent The Lorax.

230th Convention, May 2-3, 2014 Episcopal Diocese of Maryland 

Passed as amended Resolution 2014-08

Celebrate God’s Creation Day 

 RESOLVED, that this 230th Convention of the Diocese of Maryland encourage every parish to designate one day in the coming year (such as the Sunday closest to Earth Day, Rogation Sunday, St. Francis of Assisi feast day, etc.) as “Celebrate God’s Creation Day” wherein each individual member of the parish is encouraged to fast from carbon consumption by taking specific actions that sustain and renew the life of the earth, such as

• Using public transportation, walking, cycling, or carpooling;

• Changing at least one room’s lighting from incandescent to low-energy bulbs;

• Preparing a meal that features locally sourced food;

• Reducing electricity use by reducing use of appliances and electronic devices;

and be it further RESOLVED, that all individuals, parishes and other Episcopal institutions of the Diocese of Maryland participating in “Celebrate God’s Creation Day” be encouraged to use all available social and traditional media to publicize this event as a witness to the wider community of our faith. Definitely post an update on MEEP FB and MEEP twitter and email us.

God created the world and all that is in it; (Psalm 24 1:1-2).

Each of us is called to promote the wellbeing of the human community and its environment, so that Creation may live in harmony; (Deut. 26; Psalm 65).

Thanks for letting us know how your carbon fast went and definitely post an update on the Maryland Episcopal Facebook page. We look forward to learning about your successes and ideas.