Energy: Daily Use

Bob Karpel, greening layleader at Temple Shaaray Tefila in Westchester County, New York, lowers the temperature on the synagogue's hot water heater.

Most of the energy used in the United States comes from fossil fuels, which are huge contributors to climate change, so any improvements in energy efficiency can go a long way in reducing your carbon footprint.

The Jewish value of ‘bal taschit’ is first found in Deuteronomy 20, and is translated as "you shall not waste/destroy." Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) described bal taschit as

“the most comprehensive warning to human beings not to misuse the position which G-d has given them as masters of the world and its matter through capricious, passionate, or merely thoughtless wasteful destruction of anything on earth.”

(For a deeper understanding of bal taschit, see Rabbi Yonatan Neril’s article on the subject.)

This principle should inform our decisions when building and using our communal spaces. Turning off lights and shutting down computers each night are two very simple ways to get started.

Working on your institution's (or your home's) energy efficiency and usage is also an easy environmental practice that will actually save you money! Here’s how:

Use Less. While looking into alternatives like renewable energy and improving energy efficiency are undoubtedly important, we can't forget the importance of simply using less. This is a Jewish idea as well as an environmental one.

Use Efficiently. Energy efficiency is the practice of updating facilities and systems so that they use energy more efficiently, so that less is wasted and in turn less is used. This can be as simple as purchasing better insulation or replacing an incandescent light bulb with an LED. Much of a building's energy use comes from heat and air conditioning systems. Mindful use of heat and air conditioning is one way to minimize your energy use.

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Lighting

Install LED Exit signs
2 points
Action
More info
Upgrade from incandescent to CFL light bulbs
2 points
Action
Encourage daylight instead of indoor lighting
2 points
Education
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Eliminate unnecessary lighting
3 points
Action
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Reduce light pollution
3 points
Action
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Use mirrors to increase natural light
4 points
Action
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Enegy saving mechanisms
4 points
Action
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Switch to energy efficient lighting
5 points
Action
More info
Put stickers near light switches reminding people to turn them off
1 points
Education

Appliances

Reduce "Vampire Energy" by turning off and unplugging devices when not in use
1 points
Action
Schedule an annual tune-up for walk-in fridge or freezer
2 points
Action
Consolidate refrigerators
2 points
Action
Move operating refrigerator(s) 3' from the wall and vacuum coils annually
2 points
Action
Energy Star appliances
4 points
Action
More info
Switch to energy efficient refrigirators
4 points
Action
More info

HVAC

Implement a demand-response system
3 points
Action
Use a building management system
5 points
Action
Improve HVAC system
5 points
Action
More info
Improve boiler efficiency
5 points
Action
More info
Adjust thermostats to save energy
2 points
Action
More info
Maintain air filtering infrastructure
2 points
Action
More info
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Related Resources

Save On Energy: Nico the Ninja

A kid’s guide to saving energy, seen through the eyes of Nico the energy-saving ninja.

Jewish Energy Guide

The Jewish Energy Guide presents a Jewish approach to the challenges of tackling climate change, greening our institutions, and advocating for cleaner energy.

Energy Star: Certified Products

Energy Star provides useful tips and information about procuring energy efficient products.

Greenfaith’s Thirteen Steps to Save Energy

A list of twelve steps for getting started on energy conservation.