Hyde Park Mennonite Fellowship Creation Care

For more on taking care of the earth visit:



Expertise.com/green - For energy efficiency resources, which includes guides on heating and cooling, efficient lighting, window insulation, water conservation, solar energy, and more.

LetsGoSolar.com - For a comprehensive resource that provides simple, actionable information to help consumers feel confident finding the best renewable energy solutions for their homes.This site has how-to checklists, easy-to-follow financing explanations, expert tips and state-specific solar scenarios.


"Becoming an Energy Saint" Video

This song "Energy Saint" is about the different things we can do to save energy and take care of our earth. The pictures that go with the song in this video show the specific things people in our congregation have been doing to try to become energy saints.

The video was featured by The Mennonite and by The Mennonite Creation Care Network.




To read more about ways members of our congregation are working to be energy saints go to the following links.

A Creation Care Family Story - http://www.mennocreationcare.org/blog/creation-care-family-story

Sierra Club Installs Downtown Boise's First Electric Vehicle Charger - http://www.sierraclub.org/planet/2014/12/sierra-club-installs-downtown-boises-first-electric-vehicle-charger?utm_source=insider&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter


Congregational Action and results from 2013-2014

The Hyde Park Mennonite Fellowship creation care small group sponsored a congregational action to reduce home electricity use. We did this as an act of support for the creatures and the people of the world who suffer or will suffer from climate change. Families from the congregation volunteered to share their power bills with us from each month of 2013. We averaged each month’s usage, finding an average usage per household at Hyde Park Mennonite Fellowship. Each volunteer family then reported each month of 2014’s power bills, which was averaged and compared with the previous year’s congregational average. Results are displayed below. Results were collective and anonymous. Our goal was to reduce total congregational usage by 10%.


Over the year we reduced our total household consumption from a low of 10% in January to a high of 38% in September and October. This gave an overall average for the year of 27%. How did we accomplish this stunning drop in electricity usage?  We suspect with individual efforts on the part of families to use less energy and with the installation of electricity-producing solar panels by three families- the Wargos, the Hausraths and the Burkholders.

Take July, for example, the average Idaho Power residential customer used about 1,049 kWh of electricity but Hyde Parkers used 358 kWh, just 34% as much.
A couple of implications:

1) We can reduce our energy consumption.
2) Rooftop solar makes a big contribution to reducing our use of grid electricity (much of which is derived from burning coal and natural gas)
3) If we all had solar panels on our roofs, Idaho Power might be able to (might be forced to) shut down its coal-fired power plants

Another surprising thing we learned from this was how much the energy usage could differ from each household. For example, in the month of November 2014, the range was -153 kWh (a household with solar panels) to 2,612 kWh (a household with electric heat). 

Bike to Church Event

As part of our Energy Saint Challenge we held a Bike to Church Sunday event on June 15th, 2014. Out of 64 people in attendance, 29 made the trek to church by bike, which is equal to 45%. Miles ranged from 0.5 to 24 miles round trip, for a total of 126.8 miles. Figuring that 20 pounds of carbon is produced from 1 gallon of gas, which equals 0.8 pounds of carbon per mile, at an average of 25 miles to the gallon, we saved 101.44 pounds of carbon from being released into the atmosphere by this one event. Thanks to all who participated! Way to go Hyde Park Mennonite Fellowship!!


Tips to Reduce Energy

1. Set your water heater thermostat at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Use a thermometer to keep the freezer temp at 3 degrees Fahrenheit and refrigerator as close to 37 degrees Fahrenheit as possible; keep refrigerator coils clean.

3. Many home appliances continue to use energy even when they are turned off; this is called “vampire power.” An average household has 40 appliances that use “vampire power,” using up to 10% of total power used in your house! Vampire Power accounts for 1 percent of all greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. To avoid vampire power, put your appliances on power strips – when not is use, not only turn off the appliance, but turn off the entire power strip (especially at night and when gone during the day).

4. Begin switching light bulbs to LED lights (especially as lights burn out). 
-LED bulbs last up to 10 times as long as compact fluorescent bulbs and are not fragile.
-No mercury is used in the manufacturing of LEDs.
-They use 1/3rd the electricity of a CFL, and 1/30ththe electricity of Incandescent lights.

5. Organize your fridge
-The more crowded the refrigerator, the less air can circulate—and the harder it has to work. (On the other hand, the fuller the freezer, the more efficiently it works.) 
-Organize your refrigerator shelves so you know where everything is, and think of what you need before you open the fridge. This way, you open your refrigerator less, and keep it open for a shorter period of time. Remember, your refrigerator uses more energy than any other appliance.

6. Think ‘Weatherizers’: The gaps around the windows and doors in an average American house are the equivalent of a 3 foot by 3 foot hole in the wall! Caulk and weather-strip to seal off these air leaks.
- Stop air from escaping under doors with "sweeps" or "shoes" attached to the bottom.
- Use window putty to seal gaps around loose window panes.
- Cover bare floors with padded rugs for added insulation.
- Look for other air leaks you can seal, such as those around plumbing pipe, vents, etc.

7."The environmental crisis has its roots in our lives. By the same token, environmental health will also be rooted in our lives. That is, I take it, simply a fact, and in the light of it we can see how superficial and foolish we would be to think that we could correct what is wrong merely by tinkering with the institutional machinery. The changes that are required are fundamental changes in the way we are living." ― Wendell Berry

8. As we move into spring, think about lawn care.  A two-cycle lawn mower pollutes the equivalent amount as 40 cars. Over 17 million gallons of gas are spilled each year refueling lawn and garden equipment - more oil than was spilled by the Exxon Valdez. Five to ten percent of our air pollution comes from lawn equipment.  Consider moving to an electric lawn-mower and landscaping in ways that do not require mowing and lawn care.

9. Water heating makes up nearly a quarter of the typical family's utility bill.  Conserve and use less hot water.  Take shorter showers and put in low-flow shower heads. Don’t let water run, whether washing dishes, hands, or brushing teeth. Fix leaks quickly and consider where water can be reused.

10. The good news of getting off fossil fuel: solar prices! In 1977 the cost of solar panels was $76.67/watt; in 1987 $10/watt; in 1997 $7/watt; in 2007 $2/watt. Three years ago solar was $1.68/watt.  Today, solar is $0.55/watt. To see a graph illustrating this drop go to http://cleantechnica.com/2013/05/24/solar-powers-massive-price-drop-graph/

11. Considering the switch to an Electric Vehicle (EV) but not sure about cost?  Federal tax incentives - such as the federal income tax credit of up to $7,500 - may lower the total cost of EV ownership. Compared to gas-powered cars, EVs could save owners 100 percent on oil; 35 percent on scheduled maintenance, and 30 percent on repairs. Higher electric bills are always offset by savings at the gas pump: many EVs today exceed the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon - this would be like "filling up" for a few cents per mile, compared to the average 14 cents per mile in a traditional car.

12. Wise use of appliances:  Be a speedy chef, cooking in the microwave uses two-thirds less energy than your stove-top.  When you use your oven, plan ahead, so that you don’t have to let it heat up multiple times a day.  Some people try to do much of their baking one day in order to save the energy the oven has created.  And for the summer, perhaps consider a solar oven – building one is a fun project.

13. Take advantage of the cool evenings to cool off your entire house: open windows at night to bring the inside temperature down. Consider using a whole-house fan as a "natural evening air conditioner." In the morning, close up your house and draw blinds and drapes so the house stays darker and thus cooler. If you have venetian blinds, close them or angle them upwards. That way, light is reflected up and into the room and direct rays of the sun are not let in.

14. In car dependent cities 15-20% of wealth is spent on getting around.
In transit-oriented cities, only 5-8% of wealth is spent on transport.
According to the AAA, the average person spends $9,641 per year for the privilege of driving one vehicle.

15. Three summer cooling tips:  1) Free: Close unused air vents. If you have central AC you can close air vent in rooms you're not using so you're not paying to cool them. 2) Inexpensive: Block the sun from overheating your home! Inside, use shades, blinds and drapes. Outside, use awnings, trees and shrubs. 3) An investment: Insulate your walls with injected foam insulation to help you save energy by keeping hot outside air from seeping through porous block walls – check with your local building supply company for details

16. Flip the switch.  Of course we try and remember this simplest of things at home, but remember at the office too. Turn out or dim the lights in unused conference rooms, and when you step out for lunch. Work by daylight when possible. A typical commercial building uses more energy for lighting than anything else. Remember, half of electricity in Idaho comes from coal.

17. Minimize indoor heat: run dishwasher at night on hot days and let your dishes air dry. Avoid heat-generating incandescent lighting and use a microwave, toaster oven or outdoor grill instead of the oven. It's best to avoid the use of major appliances between 2 and 8 p.m. when electricity is the most expensive (and most used).

18. Getting the most out of your AC unit: You too can get cooler more quickly and save around $20 per year on your utility bill by taking a few minutes to: 1) remove weeds, leaves, and other debris near your AC’s outdoor unit, and 2) clear away objects that may be blocking indoor AC vents (offenders may include a chair, rug, or beanbag pillow). And, when was the last time you checked your AC air filters?  Another way to keep usage down.

19. Chores around the home: When possible do heat- and moisture-producing jobs such as cooking, dishes, cleaning, ironing and laundry during the cooler early morning and evening hours.  Air-dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s heat drying cycle.

20. Thinking water in a time of draught: Replace lawn: Carefully consider lawn needs, lawns need twice as much water as beds filled with flowers and shrubs. Replace lawn with native plant groupings, rocks, or outdoor living areas. Water at the right time: Water landscapes early in the morning or late at night, when air is still and evaporation loss minimal.

21. More water saving ideas for the summer: Collect household wastewater from dehumidifiers or air conditioning condensers, and even your clothes washer for irrigation. Or consider collecting rainwater from what comes down your gutters, using a rain barrel is an easy way to collect this run-off. Don’t recycle water containing bleach, fabric softener or automatic dishwashing detergent.

22. Yard Waste makes up 20% of all solid waste in landfills.  Use fallen leaves as compost for gardens, flowerbeds, and around trees – they contain 50-80% of the nutrients a tree extracts from the ground.

23. Small electronics: Set your computer to sleep or hibernate mode instead of using a screen saver so it uses less electricity during periods of inactivity. Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use. Many chargers draw power continuously, even when the device is not plugged into the charger.

24. Preparing for colder days: Heat your home with the sun's help. Leave window shades or blinds open during the daytime. And consider using solar heat to supplement your normal heating source. Lower your thermostat every time you leave the house.

25. Pray this 'Prayer of Intent' a few times throughout your week: Kneel and pray three times, "I am not the center of the universe." -Taken from "Every Creature Singing", a curriculum from Mennonite Creation Care Network

26. Conduct a few standard inspections for fall. As we prepare to move into colder months, fall is a great season to begin checking for common areas that leak air: window that might need to be resealed, attic doors that need to be insulated, or exterior doors that need new weather stripping.  This is a good time for those small projects that can make a big difference before the cold winter.   

27. For days turning colder:  1) Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. 
2) Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.

28. Calculate your carbon footprint:  Doing the math can help you see what changes would lead to the most significant reductions in your contribution to climate change. For a typical U.S. household, transportation is the single largest source of emissions, followed by housing, food and goods consumed. Meat contributes the highest carbon footprint within the food category. The average U.S. household is responsible for about 50 tons of carbon per year. This is about five times the global average of 10 tons per household.
To calculate your carbon footprint, go to http://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/carboncalculator

29. Thermostat for the winter months: When you are at home, set the furnace thermostat at 68 degrees or lower, health permitting. 3 percent to 5 percent more energy is used for each degree the furnace is set above 68 degrees. When you leave the house set the thermostat to 56°F. By turning your thermostat back 10°F to 15°F for 8 hours you can save 5 percent to 15 percent a year on your heating bill.

30. Holiday Decorating: Use light-emitting diode -- or "LED" -- holiday light strings to reduce the cost of decorating your home for the winter holidays.  Also, putting holiday lights on timers can help ensure that the lights are not left on all night.

31. Winter & Holiday cooking tips:
-Cook as many dishes as possible in your microwave over the holidays. Because microwaves cook food so quickly, the typical model uses as much as 75 percent less energy than a conventional oven.
-Use your slow cooker. For about 17 cents worth of electricity, you can prepare an entire meal.
-When using your oven, check cooking progress by looking through the window. Opening the oven door for even a few seconds lowers the temperature inside by as much as 25°F.

32. More Holiday lighting tips:
If you don't use timers, unplug your lights when you go to sleep or leave home.
Rather than adding more lights to your tree, try enhancing the existing lighting with tinsel, mirrored ornaments and other reflective items.

33. Buy Gifts that Don't Use Electricity or Batteries. 40% off all batteries are purchased during the holiday season, that's a lot of money spent on batteries and a lot of energy used! Try to buy energy-free gifts.  If you do buy battery-powered gifts, consider purchasing rechargeable batteries and a charger. Recent advancements have made rechargeable batteries better than ever.


A Prayer for Shalom

All: God, you created the cosmos, and said it was very good.

One: We gather as a people wanting to love you with heart, mind, soul, and strength,
Many: May we have eyes to see as you see, hearts to love what you love.

One: We gather as a people wanting to love our neighbor as ourselves,
Many: may we remember that it is our neighbors with the fewest resources that suffer the most from the exploitation of your creation.

One: We gather as a people wanting to be at peace within our own soul,
Many: Make us aware of the damage we do within ourselves, when we – directly and indirectly – exploit your people and your good earth for our own benefit. 

One: We gather as a people wanting to live gently on the earth,
Many: May we live simply, so that all may have life and have it abundantly.

All: Grant us the joy and peace of living in right relationship with you,
With one another,
With ourselves,
and with all of creation.  Amen.


Favorite Creation Care Scriptures

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it;
For God founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers. -Psalm 24:1-2

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
-Psalm 8:3-9

Members of the Hyde Park Mennonite Fellowship creation care small group are Reed Burkholder, Anne Hausrath, John & Sandy Wargo, Marc & Jenna Schlegel-Preheim, and Lauresta Welty. We meet once a week for 90 minutes. Anyone is welcome to join and share in our discussion. If you have comments or questions, please ask one of the above members.