Tradition & Innovation

Lo-Watt Shabbat

Adapted from COEJL

Shabbat is a time when, once a week, we are asked to slow down and remind ourselves that we are part of God's creation. This holy day emphasizes the importance of appreciating nature and taking conscious actions to protect the environment. It is especially appropriate to think about the sources of the products we use. As we understand where our water, food, and electricity come from, we can make better decisions in how we use and preserve these resources that allow us to live.

There are as many ways to go about celebrating a "Lo-Watt" Shabbat as there are ways to observe Shabbat. Below are a handful of tips meant to provide options and possibilities. Find the tips that are easiest to incorporate into your form of Shabbat observance, then slowly challenge yourself to extend the holiness of your lo-watt behavior into the week. 


Many of these steps can be taken in preparation for Shabbat and can save you money too!


Move your heater thermostat down two degrees in winter and air-conditioner setting up two degrees in the summer. Save approximately 2000 pounds of carbon dioxide and $98 per year.
Unplug any appliances and battery chargers that will not be in use during the entire length of Shabbat.



  • Make use of natural sunlight and enjoy real sunshine. Open blinds, drapes, and shutters to warm the home several degrees for free. Do just the opposite to cool the home several degrees.
  • Use non-toxic Shabbat candles made from renewable fuels. Beeswax is the only naturally existing wax on Earth. It contains no toxic petrochemicals and burns without smoke or soot.


  • Use dimmers where you can.
  • Set automatic timers to turn lights on and off at specific times, instead of constantly having them on.


Shabbat is a time to sit back, relax, and be part of your community. If that necessitates leaving your house, think twice about how you’re going to do it.

  • Walk!
  • Ride a bike or rollerblade.
  • Carpool with friends, family, and neighbors.
  • Take public transportation.

Meals/Oneg Shabbat

  • Try eating outside for the most natural setting.
  • If you cannot use real dishes, serve food on reusable and recyclable plates and cups, such as paper, rather than Styrofoam.
  • Use cloth napkins and table covers instead of paper ones. If 10,000 people use one fewer napkin per day, in a year, we'll conserve the annual paper use of 58 Americans.
  • After meals, store leftover food in reusable containers and/or donate it to a local soup kitchen or pantry.
  • Decorate your Shabbat table with decorations made from recycled material such as magazines.

For tips "beyond Shabbat," see the full article.


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