Your home is plugged into nature. Nearly 60 per cent of the energy used by Canadian homes is directly related to heating. Even though we think we're becoming more energy conscious, this figure is actually rising because the size of the homes we build has been steadily increasing since the 1950s.
Depending on which province you live in, electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, hydro-electric dams or nuclear power plants. Each of these has environmental consequences — from air pollution and global warming to habitat loss and nuclear waste.
Come on Canada, it's time to kick our bad habits and get into shape!
- Check walls, doors and windows for drafts and seal them up — up to 40 per cent of heat loss is from these areas. (Don't know how? Check out this video.
- Insulate everywhere — the roof, floors, walls, basements. It'll keep you cool in the summer and toastier in the cold seasons.
- Any electronic gizmo that has a clock, digital timer, remote control or standby mode is sucking energy when it's not being used (it's called 'phantom electricity' — and it's scary how much of it there is). If you're not using them, unplug them.
- Set up a 'charging station' for equipment that needs charging — plug everything into a power bar and turn that off until you actually need to charge something.
- Switch to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED light bulbs. They're 75 per cent more efficient than conventional bulbs.
- If you're buying a home, be sure it meets R-2000 standards (which means it will use two-thirds of the energy of a conventional home). R-2000 costs a little more up-front, but in the long run, the design saves money on utility bills and boosts resale value.
- Choose Energy Star appliances — they're way more efficient than their ancestors. A new refrigerator, for example, uses 40 per cent less energy than a model produced before 1993 (AND saves you still more cash on utilities).
- Whenever you shop for electronics of any kind, tell sales staff you are looking for energy efficiency. The more people demand, the more pressure there is for companies to supply.
- Think twice before you buy any electronic toys and gadgets. Even though lots of us choose more efficient models, home energy use is actually increasing just because we keep loading up on more electrical devices!
- Go for a walk instead of watching TV or booting up your computer. It'll do you and the whole planet a lot of good.