Welcome to 52 Weeks! A weekly tip, challenge or suggestion on how to reduce your carbon footprint over the year. Some are quick and easy, some build habits towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
Starting on Earth Day, April 22nd, you will be emailed a weekly tip that gives you a challenge, or something to think about that week. It will also be posted on social media, local media pages, and here on our blog.
Sign up any time at bit.ly/52WeeksofClimateAction!
In the dead of winter, as the temperature plummets, we rely on our utility companies to keep us warm and cozy. But, many of our homes are not as energy efficient as they could be.
Despite that, there are ways that you can tackle retrofits, and get support from companies who will pay you to do it. What, you ask? A company will give me money for improving my home? Why yes, they will. If you follow a few simple steps.
There is a good amount of money to be recouped in partnering with an energy company. For instance, if you are an Enbridge customer, you can get up to $5,000 in rebates for making some changes, ranging from simple things like a programmable thermostat, to more complex, like adding insulation, or replacing your furnace. The program was suspended during Covid, but as of Feb. 10, things look like they are opening back up again.
Enbridge isn’t the only one, but the hoops you must jump through vary from company to company. So, your challenge this week is to find out where the money is, and get some for yourself while you improve your home’s energy efficiency. It’s a bit of a theme - save money, live more sustainably. Have we said that before?!
Challenge 43: Find grants from your energy companies.
Call your energy companies or go to their websites to find out about green energy or energy efficiency grants/programs that might be available.
Why is this important? Because up to 35% of a home’s energy is wasted. That means if you pay $100 per month in hydro, $35 flies out the window for no reason. Over a year that’s $420 for nothing. How does that make you feel? And, beyond that, the production of that wasted energy is cranking up the heat on our planet. It’s bad enough that we use as many resources as we do. But to manufacture them only to waste them demonstrates how unaware we are about what we do on a daily basis.
Phantom power is also a problem. 75% of the energy your home electronics use is consumed when they are OFF. Off, folks. Digest that for a second. Further, up to 10% of household energy used comes from appliances and devices that draw power when they’re turned off. If they’re plugged in, they’re using energy. So, unplug things you don’t regularly use (like toasters, coffee makers, phone chargers, computers), or, purchase a power bar that you can click off, which stops everything in its tracks. Make sure your office equipment and your home entertainment systems are also on power bars that you can turn off.
Retrofitting doesn’t have to mean thousands of dollars. It can be really simple. Here is some low-hanging fruit you can implement today, that doesn’t cost a ton, and can have a big impact:
Change out all your lightbulbs for LEDs, and install motion sensor light switches for lights someone often leaves on (hello children’s bedroom). They’ll turn off automatically.
Seal up your leaky windows, doors and baseboards with caulking or spray foam.
Beef up insulation in your attic and basement.
Install low flow shower heads, taps and toilets.
Turn off phantom power.
For those who want to go the extra mile, try these tips:
Update your inefficient heating and cooling systems. Yes, it will cost you to start. But, if your furnace is more than 10 years old, its efficiency is probably no more than 80%. A new high efficiency furnace is 95% efficient. You could save up to 40% in energy costs overall, which translates into money in your pocket.
Replace inefficient windows and/or doors. If you can’t afford to do them all at once, do them a few at a time. Some is better than none.
Replace inefficient appliances with energy saving ones. And bonus, you may get an energy rebate for that too. Don’t buy ones with unnecessary gadgets - how many digital displays do you need? That clock is draining energy, even if it’s blinking because you don’t know how to set it.
If you are building, or you are ready to go hard core on your updates, consider renewable technologies like:
Installing a geothermal system.
Solar panels - even some on a south-facing roof can make a tremendous difference to your consumption, and by extension, your wallet.
On-demand hot water tanks.
Okay, so today we digressed a bit. But, you get the idea. No matter where you live, or what’s in your home, there are ways you can improve your own efficiency with very little pain, and a whole lot of financial gain. Companies may even help you, giving you a double bang for your buck. And, if you happen to make the planet a little better in the meantime, well, that’s a pretty good payback for buying a few power bars.
Yours in Sustainability, Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood
52 Weeks of Climate Action was created by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood. Sherri is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the candidate of record and communications coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Laurel Hood, is a retired secondary teacher, transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and volunteer coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Visit our blog or sign up at www.52weeksofclimateaction.com.