At Home

Reduse greenhouse gas emssions in and around your home

Light, heat, cool and ventilate efficiently 

Did you know that heating and cooling your home accounts for 80% of your energy bill? That means there’s a big opportunity for you to reduce GHG emissions and save money by heating and cooling more wisely.

If you are like many homeowners who work away from home during the day, and have a different schedule on the weekend, a programmable thermostat is just what you need. You can improve your home's comfort, reduce GHG emissions and save a lot of money. A programmable thermostat can return your initial investment is as little as one year! Once you set your programmable thermostat you can sit back and relax. It raises and lowers the temperature in your home automatically. For instance, you can program it to lower the temperature a few degrees at bedtime or during the day when you’re at work, and to raise the temperature for when you wake in the morning or come home from work. Smart meters can also provide homeowners with greater control over their energy use by tracking energy consumption patterns. Smart meters allow customers to view their hourly electricity consumption profile, and help identify periods where they can shift their energy usage to reduce costs.

Always turn off lights, TVs, computers and consumer electronics when not in use. When cooking always use the smallest pot or pan necessary.

Regularly cleaning air filters, and ensuring your furnace and ventilation system is operating efficiently, can also save energy, money and reduce GHG emissions. When it's time to replace your old heating/cooling/ventilating equipment, be sure to choose a high efficiency model, and make sure it is properly sized and installed. Look for an Energy Star-certified product.

Use green power

Green power is environmentally friendly electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as wind and the sun. There are two ways to use green power: you can buy green power or you can modify your house to generate your own green power, including installing solar panels. Buying green power offers a number of environmental and economic benefits over conventional electricity, including lower GHG emissions and a cleaner environment and energy supply. An example in Ontario is Bullfrog Power, the province’s first 100% green electricity retailer. BullFrog Power buys electricity generated exclusively from wind and low-impact hydro generators. When you switch to Bullfrog Power, you continue to draw your power from Ontario's electricity grid in the same way that you always have. You don't need any special equipment. And there is no change to the reliability of your electricity supply. For information of sources of green energy in your area contact your local utility.

Use water efficiently

Municipal water systems require a lot of energy to purify and distribute water to households, and saving water, especially hot water, can lower GHG emissions dramatically. Consider the purchase of a solar water heater - it can provide between 35 and 75 per cent of your hot water needs, saving you money and reducing your GHG emissions.

Never let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth.

Approximately 30-40% of water used inside residential buildings is used for toilet flushing. Do not use your toilet as a disposal system for toiletry or other items as a significant amount of water is wasted with each flush. Purchase a "low flow" toilet, designed to use only six litres of water per flush. This is significantly less water than conventional toilets use which use 13 to 20 litres. Since toilets last approximately 20 years, the water and dollar savings can be substantial. Did you know a leaky toilet could waste 200 gallons of water per day? Be sure to repair all toilet and faucet leaks as soon as possible.

Take a shower instead of a bath. A shower requires up to four-times less energy than a bath. Avoid power showers and use “low-flow” showerheads, which are cheap and provide the same comfort.

Seal up your home

Make sure you close any visible cracks and gaps in your house, install adequate insulation, ensure all ducts are sealed, and replace leaky windows and doors. Not sure where the cracks and gaps are? A home energy auditor can help to identify these areas and evaluate the energy efficiency of your home. By taking these steps, you can eliminate drafts, keep your home comfortable year round, save energy and money, and reduce GHG emissions.

Look for Energy Star labelled products

When buying new products for your home, reduce GHG emissions by purchasing energy-efficient products.

ENERGY STAR-certified home products available to Canadian consumers include:

  • appliances
  • lighting
  • home electronics
  • heating, cooling and ventilation equipment
  • windows and doors

After you’ve replaced your old inefficient appliances with new high-efficiency models, be sure to have them recycled. Do not, for example, buy a new energy efficient refrigerator and then put the old one in the basement for use as a second refrigerator. Have it recycled!

Resist using the clothes dryer

Set-up a clothesline and always hang your clothes out to dry when possible. Clothes dryers use an enormous amount of energy! When you do use your dryer – make sure it is full.

Change your light bulbs

If you are not already using energy efficient light bulbs replace the conventional bulbs in your home. If you can’t replace them all at once, start with the most frequently used rooms and living areas. Lighting uses about 20% of you electricity generated . Energy- efficient bulbs use about 20% of the electricity of conventional bulbs. Replacing your old light bulbs with energy-efficient models will significantly reduce your personal GHG emissions and lower your energy bill!

Be green in your yard

Use a push mower, which, unlike a gas or electric mower, consumes no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases. If you can’t use a push mower, an electric model is the next best option. Try to avoid using gas mowers, especially 2-stroke, as they emit enormous amounts of smog causing  emissions as well as greenhouse gases. A 4-stroke engine mower is marginally better than a 2-stroke, but both are much less efficient than electric models.

Be sure to compost all of your food and yard waste.

Avoid over-cutting grass. Keep it roughly two to three inches high – this will retain significantly more moisture. You can also use grass clippings and/or wood chips around plants, shrubs and trees to hold and retain moisture.

Strategically planted evergreen trees can provide an excellent wind-break in the winter months, reducing GHG emissions and heating costs. In the hot summer months, leafy hardwoods can provide shade - keeping your house cool and reducing air conditioner use. These smart landscaping techniques can reduce GHG emissions, save you money, benefit birds and other wildlife, and reduce the amount of CO2 in the air!

Select trees and plant species native to your area as they generally require little more water than nature provides.

Sweep dirt and grass clippings off your sidewalk and driveway. Using a hose to clean them wastes large amounts of water. Be sure to shut off all outdoor taps tightly and inspect them regularly for leaks. Winter takes its toll on outside taps – so annually check for leaks and fix promptly.

Manage water flow and reduce soil erosion around your house by taking measures to channel rainwater run-off to ensure it collects and filters slowly into the soil. Don’t allow it to channel into a storm drain or stream. Consider making run-off areas more permeable and resistant to erosion by adding gravel and/or planting vegetation.

Better yet install a rain barrel and capture ran for watering your garden

Grow some of your own food

Consider planting a garden! A diverse garden can not only put delicious fruits and vegetables on your dinner table, it can attract a variety of birds and wildlife to your home and reduce the amount of CO2 in the air.

Water your garden during the coolest part of the day (before 9 am) and avoid watering on windy days to reduce water loss from evaporation. Consider collecting rainwater in a barrel or large container – it is ideal for use on your garden or lawn. Try to use soaker hoses and drip irrigation as sprinklers lose a lot of water to evaporation. If you are using a sprinkler, set it to deliver large droplets at a low trajectory - not high into the air. Use automatic timers if you will have to leave or will be away.

Always avoid using fertilizers. They are made of fossil fuels and release nitrous oxide, a harmful GHG, into the atmosphere. Also avoid the use of pesticides - they can he harmful to human health, birds and wildlife and water resources.

Buy locally grown food

Amazingly, Canadians import almost 50% of their vegetables and 90% of their fruit - all of which is generally transported long distances by polluting diesel trucks. Buying locally reduces transportation-related GHG emissions and air pollution, and it promotes community agriculture and provides local jobs. Buy organic foods as often as possible. Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms.

Be green in your kitchen

Buy fresh foods instead of frozen. Frozen food require 10 times more energy to produce. If you eat meat, reduce your consumption by one-third. Methane is a significant GHG and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters.

Always use the smallest pot or pan possible when cooking. Cover your pots while cooking – you can save a lot of energy. Pressure cookers and steamers can also substantially reduce energy use.

Avoid using your dish washing machine – it requires a lot of energy. If you do use it, never use it when it is half-full. Furthermore, there is no need to set the temperatures high these days as detergents are so efficient that they clean at low temperatures.

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and  Recycle !

If you aren’t already recycling your household waste, be sure to recycle your newspapers, beverage containers, paper and other recyclable materials.

Buy products made from recycled-materials whenever you can. It requires two-thirds less energy to produce an aluminium can from recycled materials than it does to produce one from virgin materials. Likewise, it requires half the energy to make recycled paper and plastic. Steel and glass made from recycled material also requires less energy than from virgin materials.

Only buy products in containers that can be easily recycled or reused. Choose products that come with little packaging. Refuse to buy junk and other things you don’t need.

Use a cloth shopping bag when getting groceries - it saves energy and reduces waste. Disposable plastic shopping bags should be avoided.

Supporting the 4-Rs will reduce energy use, GHG emissions, and the amount of waste going to landfills and incinerators. It will also support local recycling markets.

Spread the word!

Show friends and family how reducing their energy use is good for them and the planet. Be a good neighbour and share more than sidewalks. Share your knowledge and enthusiasm. Lead by example!