Household Actions

Reducing Our Winchester “Carbon Footprint

The "Big Four”

Based on our analysis of 110 Winchester households participating on Eco Teams, each of the following accounts for about 15% of their Winchester household CO2 emissions: 

1.  Heating — using oil, gas, electricity and biofuels

2.  Electricity — for all uses except heating

3.  Driving

4.  Flying

More detail & suggestions for actions on these are below.

The “Next Five”

Of the remaining 40% of emissions, following are some major contributors: 

5.  Production, distribution and purchasing of consumer goods we consume

6.  Disposal of consumer goods and household trash

7.  Yard waste in the trash

8.  Provision of fresh water & disposal of waste water piped to Deer Island

9.  Disposal of home construction and demolition waste material

More detail & suggestions for actions on these and on recycling are also below.


The number 350 being spelled out on Laraway Road in 2010.  350 is the number of parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide that is considered by leading scientists to be the safe upper limit for a sustainable, healthy global environment. 

Taking Specific Actions:

The "Big Four”

1)   Heating — using oil, gas, electricity and biofuels

  • Most effective: Get no-cost energy assessment and take recommended actions

Note: If there are 5 or more house units in a facility, all units must be assessed as a whole. If a renter is in 1-4 unit facility, better if arranged by the landlord, but can proceed without. More on this page under WinSaves.

  • Lower the thermostat and wear warmer clothing
  • Utilize Winchester’s Senior Energy Grant program (More on this page)
  • Use electric ductless air source heat pumps, like ductless mini splits. 

       (More on this page)  

  • Install rooftop or ground-mounted solar panels for hot water and/or photovoltaics

       (More on this page under Solar Power)

  • Promote carbon pricing in Massachusetts (More on this page under 350MetroNorth)
Mini Split Heater

                            An efficient ductless “Mini Split” heating and cooling unit.

2)   Electricity — for all except heating

  •  Most effective:  Purchase 100% renewable electricity (See WinPower here)

        Eliminates 100% of electricity carbon footprint!

  • Replace inefficient appliances like old refrigerators, air conditioners and dehumidifiers
  • Replace inefficient lighting, especially with LED lighting
  • Turn off electricity consuming devices when not in use
  • Install rooftop or ground mounted photovoltaic solar panels

       (More on this page under Solar Power)

  • Reduce air conditioner use by cooling off house at night with outdoor air
  • Air-dry clothes instead of machine drying — they will last longer, too

                                               The Solarize Winchester effort in 2012

3)   Driving

  • Most effective: Buy an all electric car. See DriveGreen here for details. 

Eliminates 100% of driving carbon footprint if using all-renewable electricity!

  • Drive less by walking, bicycling and using car pooling and public transport more
  • Delay driving until you have collected multiple goals for a trip
  • Avoid idling — turn off the engine while waiting
  • Avoid traffic jams — use tools like Google Maps for alternative routes
  • Drive slower — less wind resistance gives you better mpg
  • Maintain engine and tire pressure well
  • Buy a high mpg hybrid or better still plug-in hybrid (More here under DriveGreen)
  • Promote carbon pricing in Massachusetts 

       (More on this page under 350MetroNorth)

  • Buy carbon offsets to partially compensate for gasoline/diesel burned
  • Telecommute and hold on-line meetings

                   Three EVs at the charging station near the Winchester library.

4)   Flying

  • Most effective:  Fly less!
  • Fly direct routes — without stopovers
  • Take vacations close to home
  • Hold on-line meetings
  • Buy carbon offsets to partially compensate for every flight

The “Next Five”

5)   Production, distribution and purchasing of consumer goods we consume

  • Do we really need to buy an item?
  • Can we fix the one we have?
  • Can we find a used one? 
  • Can we eat less red meat?
  • Buy at Boston Building Resources,  617-442-2262
  • Buy at Habitat/Greater Boston ReStore www. 617-327-1170
  • Try FreeCycle, the ENKA store, Goodwill, Craig’s List, or another source to find used items

6)   Disposal of our consumer goods and household trash

      Options for diverting from waste stream (much of which is incinerated):

a)   Disposal of plastic, glass, cardboard, paper, etc.

  • Take full advantage of the recycling program in Winchester, including the   SMART program described at the bottom of this page.

b)   Disposal of new or used clothing or textiles 

~ Annually 230,000 tons or 6% of the waste stream in MA is is disposed clothing and textiles

~ 95% of it could have been reused/recycled

  • Deposit at transfer station clothing bins, Planet Aid bins, bin in the Woburn Whole Foods parking lot, bin at St. Eulalia’s and other bins in the area or donate to Big Brother Big Sister. 
    See:, 800-483-5503

Include: Worn, torn or stained clothing, bedspreads, blankets, sheets and pillows

Also can include: footwear, handbags, backpacks, throw rugs and stuffed animals

Exclude: oil, mold or hazardous chemical-contaminated or wet materials, carpets

c)   Disposal of kitchen scraps and other organic materials

~ 96% currently goes into the waste stream. It wastes a lot of energy to incinerate it

  • Take to the Winchester transfer station which now has a place for compostable kitchen waste
  • Also consider doing your own “back yard” composting
  • Kitchen sink disposal is OK - organic matter is needed for the treatment plant on Deer Island
  • Avoid putting in the trash

d)   Disposal of used books

  • Utilize book containers at the Winchester Transfer station and PeopleFit parking lot
  • Deposit at More Than Words book container at 33 East  St., Winchester. See
  • Take them to the Medford Public Library book resale program, High St. Medford 

e)   Disposal of furniture and appliances

f)   Disposal of household metal scraps

  • Save random bits of metal in a box and when it is full take it to the Metal Pile at the Winchester transfer station or a metal recycler elsewhere, some of whom will pay for it by weight.

7)   Provision of fresh water and disposal of waste water (piped to Deer Island)

  • Install efficient tap aerators, shower heads and toilets
  • Use water wisely when doing dishes, showering, etc
  • Avoid unnecessary outdoor water use

8)   No Yard waste in the trash

  • Deposit leaves, grass, weeds, branches and small bushes at the Winchester transfer station
  • Also consider doing your own “back yard” composting

9)   Disposal of home construction & demolition “waste” material 

~ Estimated 40% of US waste is construction demolition waste

~ Ideally structures would be “deconstructed” rather than demolished

  • Take reusable materials to a re-use center such as: 
    Boston Building Resources,
    m  617-442-2262
  • If it must be disposed of, the transfer station charges $200/ton for demolition debris