ARN Beyond Paris

Beyond Paris: Energy Efficiency Toolkit

How do we respond to Climate Change in ways that are effective, life-giving, and equitable? By taking action that is practical, structural, & spiritual. We’ve  developed the Beyond Paris Pledge to incorporate all three of these areas and to consider how practical action can be a form of spiritual practice.   

Join us by signing the Beyond Paris Pledge to reduce your carbon footprint 50% by 2030. Each month we’ll provide you with the resources and support you need to make a plan to get there! This month we’re focusing on Energy Efficiency. You can also download this toolkit here. 


Why Does Energy Efficiency Matter?

When we think about carbon reduction we often think about the big changes that need to be made. It can be hard to see how small, everyday changes can add up, but they do. Energy efficiency has an important role to play when it comes to carbon reduction because the building sector is responsible for nearly half of the energy used in the US. Correspondingly, it is responsible for nearly half of the country’s carbon emissions! Changing your lightbulbs, turning off power strips, and lowering your thermostat certainly won’t achieve the total reductions we need, but they do go a long way, and are absolutely worth doing.

Buildings use about three-fourths of the electricity in the country. Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to “create” energy, because the cheapest energy is energy we don’t use! Additionally, transitioning to renewable energy becomes much easier when our buildings are more energy efficient, and thus require less energy.  

Generating more renewable energy like solar and wind, and becoming more energy efficient, are exciting and vital pieces of an effective carbon reduction plan!


Read this article from Energy Future Coalition for more about why energy efficiency matters.

Watch this fun video of how Germany is making energy efficiency central to their energy independence. It shows the possibilities that are already out there and the way the German government has made energy efficiency easier, hopefully in a way that our government will follow!


  • The video spends a lot of time on the cultural value of energy efficiency in Germany, what are ways we can make that change here?

  • What is something about this video (or other aspects of energy efficiency) that excite you? How can you find ways to turn that energy into action?

Get started!

The easiest step for you right now is to set your thermostat lower! Lowering by a couple degrees while you are at home, and by 5-10 degrees while you are asleep and at work can save up to 15% on your heating bill. If you have a programmable thermostat you don’t even have to worry about turning it down every day and can set it to start heating back up before you get back from work.

50 Day Challenge Check out the actions you can take to start saving 5% or more on your energy today! Includes a focus on heating, water, lighting, appliances & air sealing.

Want extra credit?  Take some time to enter information on the Cool Climate carbon calculator to see what actions can work best for you and the planet!

Home Energy Analysis Take the next step and learn about the specific steps you can take in your particular home!  With MN Power and Comfort System rebates, advanced home performance testing is very affordable, learn more here.

Solar Market Advancement Duluth entities are working with the US Department of Energy to install the first megawatt of solar in the City. Learn more about renewable options.


Take Action! While we take practical action to lower our individual carbon footprints, we also must take systemic action to ensure that our government and other decision makers take serious action on climate change that makes renewable energy and energy efficiency programs accessible and affordable for all. One way we can do this is by ensuring that community solar is in alignment with our values. In December, we wrote a letter, signed by many partner organizations in the region, detailing the values we want represented in community solar programs, as well as specific ways we would like to have Minnesota Power amend their proposal to be in alignment with these values.  To continue to demonstrate public support for this we are launching an effort to have individuals sign on to our detailed letter, which will be presented to the PUC in May. Please review, sign, and pass the letter along to all of your networks: family, friends, organizations and faith communities!  



Spiritual Practice

Not that long ago, our ancestors held their breath as the days grew shorter and darkness surrounded them. Around the glow of the fire that kept each other warm, sharing stories. As you lower your thermostat, consider the gifts winter brings that our ancestors might have recognized and found strength in and which we often miss in our busy lives.

This month as you make changes to become more energy efficient consider, “how would this action feel differently if it’s done as a spiritual practice?  We invite you to join us in this process and explore the resources and wisdom of our faith traditions, and consider practical actions as a form of spiritual practice.