10 Ways to Take Climate Action

Source: Fairfax County Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination

Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22, is a global event to demonstrate support for environmental protection. You can join the effort to protect our planet – and support a healthier and more resilient Fairfax County – by taking these 10 climate actions.

1. Estimate your current carbon footprint using an online calculator. Many daily activities like driving a car, disposing of waste and using electricity cause greenhouse gas emissions. It’s an increase in these greenhouse gas emissions and their ability to trap heat that is leading to hotter temperatures worldwide and causing issues such as the melting of the polar ice caps, rising sea levels, weirder and more violent weather, and more. A carbon footprint calculator like the one from the Environmental Protection Agency will help you estimate your household’s emissions so you can take actions to reduce – and save money too.

2. Learn about Fairfax County’s climate plans, policies, and initiatives. From plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience community-wide to a sweeping environmental vision that addresses the conservation and protection of natural resources, these plans and policies help to define a sustainable future for all residents. View the plans on the Climate Plans, Policies, and Initiatives page.

3. Sign up for Fairfax Alerts to stay informed about emergencies in Fairfax County, including weather events. Fairfax Alerts is managed by the Department of Emergency Management and Security, and you can choose to receive alerts by email, phone or text.

4. Hire a professional to conduct an energy assessment (audit) of your home to see where improvements can be made. Federal tax credits for energy audits are available. You can learn more about energy assessments on Fairfax County Home Energy page

5. Adjust your thermostat during hot or cold months.
- Thermostat settings during warm months: Turn your thermostat up a few degrees (78F recommended) during the summer months to reduce energy used by air conditioning.
- Thermostat settings during cold months: Turn your thermostat down a few degrees (68F recommended) in the winter months to save on heating. Wear an extra layer of clothing.

6. Replace your incandescent and CFL bulbs with LED light bulbs, which are much more energy-efficient while producing the same amount of light. They last much longer, too.

7. Buy and install weather stripping and caulk around your doors and windows to reduce air leaks that create annoying drafts. Common culprits for air leaks include doors, windows, exterior outlets, ducts, and connections to the outside such as cables or plumbing fixtures. Sealing air leaks helps you reduce energy use and save money. To help you identify air leaks in your home, check out a thermal camera from Fairfax County Public Library.

8. Drop off your food scraps (compost) at any Farmer's Market location in Fairfax County, at the I-66 transfer station or I-95 landfill. Composting reduces emissions from our landfills. Find the Farmer’s Market locations and schedule.

9. Consider ENERGY STAR or a WATER SENSE models when replacing or upgrading home appliances like refrigerators or washers and dryers. These models are guaranteed to improve efficiency and save money in the long run.

10. Switch to an electric vehicle if feasible for you. Be sure to take advantage of federal tax credits and other incentives available for EVs. Visit the county webpage dedicated to electric vehicles, for information and resources to help you on your EV journey. 

Bonus Action: Go solar! Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination has information on its Going Solar webpage. Additionally, Spring 2024 solar group purchasing programs are accepting applications for a limited time, so sign up for Solarize Virginia or Capital Area Solar Switch.

Looking to do more? This list of actions is just a sample of what you can find on the Fairfax County Climate Action Checklist – an interactive checklist designed to help you track your progress in adopting sustainable habits and making environmentally conscious choices that can also save you money. This Excel spreadsheet offers a list of 70-plus actions you can take, along with their cost up front and yearly savings in both money and carbon emissions. There are also links to incentives and resources to make taking actions cheaper and easier.