Well we’ve reached the final stage on our journey towards a lower carbon footprint in 2010 and this week we’re tackling the biggest culprit: home energy use.
We’ve already shed tonnes (literally!) from our footprint with the changes we’ve made to our diets, the way we travel and how we deal with household waste. But there is still a huge opportunity to reduce it even further.
The average Canadian is responsible for well over 2 tonnes in carbon emissions each year directly as a result of energy use within the home. We’re confident that we can cut that number by nearly 50% through the following changes.
Heating and Cooling – 50 to 70% of the average annual energy budget goes to heating and cooling our homes so this is the area that we can impact most significantly.
- Upgrade to high efficiency HVAC units. Odds are, if your furnace is over 20 yrs old, it’s running at less than 80% efficiency. Today’s high efficiency units can run at more than 95% efficiency which will not only save you hundreds of dollars each year, it will also save over 2 tonnes in carbon emissions annually as well.
- Clean & service your furnace and air conditioner – clean filters, coils, inspect duct work and keep up with scheduled maintenance – a neglected furnace can cost you hundreds of dollars as well as hundreds of kilograms in carbon emissions each year
- Install a programmable thermostat. These units make it easy for you to save by offering pre-programmed settings to regulate your home’s temperature in both summer and winter — when you are asleep or away. Think of the energy and money you’ll save by not heating or cooling your home unnecessarily.
Electricity – this is another easy one. There are countless ways to save electricity in the home leading to big savings and a smaller footprint. Here are just a few.
- Switch your incandescent lights to CFL’s (compact florescent light bulbs). These bulbs use 75% less energy, last 10 times longer and save over 2000 times their own weight in carbon emissions. Swapping just 10 bulbs in your home will save you over a hundred dollars and over 250 kilograms in harmful emissions in the first year alone.
- Slay energy vampires. Don’t let electronic devices prey on your homes electrical grid. Energy vampires can account for up to 10% of you annual electricity bill yet are a simple to eliminate. Invest in power bars, smart strips and timers to ensure that you are not giving your money away.
- Invest in Energy Star rated appliances. If you’re looking to invest in any new appliances this year, be sure to look for the Energy Star label and you can realize up to 50% in efficiency gains vs standard models.
Water – we can’t dramatically reduce our carbon footprint through water conservation but these steps will greatly reduce your overall eco footprint and will ease the increasing demands on this precious resource. Start by doing the following.
- Check faucets, toilets and pipes for water leaks. Easy fix to a big problem. Up to 10% of water waste can be linked to leaks in these areas. Even something as small as a dripping faucet leaking at a rate of 1 drop per second can cost you over 8000 liters in water waste each year.
- Install low flow devices/aerators on all kitchen and bathroom faucets. A standard faucet can flow at a rate of 20 liters per minute; aerators can reduce that flow rate down to as low as 3 liters per minute. This alone can save you over 6000 liters of water per year.
- Install low flow shower heads and reduce water use by over 25% without sacrificing.
- Turn faucets on and off while either brushing your teeth or shaving and reduce water waste by up to 60%. And remember, anytime you are conserving hot water, you are also saving on water heating costs.
- When running the dishwasher, be sure to only run full loads to avoid waste.
- On laundry day, again full loads and be sure to switch your washing machine to the cold water setting to save on water heating costs.
And so ends the journey to lower our carbon footprint in 2010 – we’ve given you the tools; now get to work on reducing your impact this year. Dig out some of last year’s utility bills, compare your consumption and watch those savings pile up. And if you’ve got any other energy saving tips that will help lower carbon emissions, we’d love to hear your ideas. Just leave a comment below.