- Climate change, or global warming, is the rise in average surface temperatures on Earth, due primarily to the use of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are released into the air, resulting in rising sea levels, severe weather events, droughts and an increase in asthma and allergy attacks.
- Using fossil fuel for electricity, driving a car and throwing away garbage all lead to greenhouse gas emissions. You can reduce emissions through simple actions like: using renewable energy, such as solar energy; changing to LED light bulbs; powering down electronics when not in use; using less water; recycling your garbage; and, planting a tree or shrub.
- Solar energy is a clean source of renewable energy that is highly efficient. You can buy solar thermal systems to heat your water, and photovoltaic panels to provide electricity. Installing solar-powered outdoor pathway lights is one of the easiest ways to use solar energy at home.
- Burning gasoline and other fossil fuels release carbon dioxide and contribute to climate change. Using public transportation, carpooling, walking or biking two days a week can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and keep you healthy too!
FOOD AND COOKING
- To avoid wasting energy, always cover pots and pans to keep heat in. Trapping the heat will increase temperatures in the pan and cooking times can be reduced.
- Keep burners clean on gas ranges to ensure maximum efficiency and match your pot size to your burner size. You can also use your microwave instead of your stove as this uses less energy.
- Serve locally grown and produced foods whenever possible to reduce the amount of energy used to create and transport food from thousands of miles away. Local foods are not just more energy-efficient; they also tend to be fresher and less processed, promote healthy eating habits and support our economy.
- Buy in bulk for everyday items. As well as saving money, this will avoid the emissions created when packaging individual items. If you don't use large quantities but still want to take advantage of the savings, share an order with a friend, colleague or neighbour.
ENERGY STAR ® & APPLIANCES
- Energy Star ® is an international labelling programme that helps protect our climate and saves individuals and businesses money. Look out for the Energy Star logo on office equipment, home appliances and electronics resulting in better performance, lower utility bills, and environmental protection.
- When shopping for a new appliance, look for the EnergyGuide label attached to most appliances. It tells how much energy an appliance uses and makes it easier to compare the energy use of similar models. The more energy efficient an appliance is, the less it costs to run, and the better it is for the environment.
- Keep your refrigerator coils clean.
- Minimize the number of times you open your refrigerator and freezer doors
- Replace a 10-year-old refrigerator for bigger savings. Be sure to recycle your old refrigerator.
- A full refrigerator retains cold better than an empty one, which means the compressor turns on less often.
- Planting trees, shrubs and other native plants helps reduce your carbon footprint by shading your home and office thereby reducing the energy required to cool it. Plants also help mitigate climate change by reducing carbon dioxide as they ‘breathe’ it in.
- Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from the house.
- Close curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day.
- Install awnings on south- and west-facing windows. Apply sun-control or other reflective films on south-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain.
- Don't heat your home with appliances and lighting. On hot days, avoid using the oven; cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside. Use LED bulbs which are cooler. About 85% to 90% of the electricity that incandescent lights consume is turned into heat.
- Set your air conditioner thermostat at as high a temperature as comfortably possible. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. Setting your thermostat at a colder setting than normal, will not cool your home any faster and could result in unnecessary expense.
- Circulating fans create a wind chill effect that will make you more comfortable in your home, even if it's also cooled by natural ventilation or air conditioning. However, remember to turn off fans when you leave the room. Fans cool people, not rooms.
- Check to see that windows and doors are closed when heating or cooling your home.
- Look for energy-saving ENERGY STAR home electronics.
- Plug home electronics, such as TVs, DVD players and personal computers, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use. TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power.
- Use rechargeable batteries for products like cordless phones and digital cameras. Studies have shown they are more cost effective than disposable batteries. If you must use disposables, check with your trash removal company about safe disposal options.
- Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use.
- Turn things off when you are not in the room such as lights, TVs, entertainment systems, and your computer and monitor.
- Keep your curtains or shades open to use daylight instead of turning on lights. For more privacy, use light-coloured, loose-weave curtains to allow daylight into the room. Also, decorate with lighter colours that reflect daylight.
- Replacing your home's five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with LED bulbs will save even more. LEDs use only about 20%-25% of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. LEDs work well indoors and outdoors because of their durability and performance.
- Simple changes can save you money. Changing your incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs can save as much as $140.00 a year for each bulb you change.
- When replacing incandescent bulbs from recessed light fixtures, use energy-efficient bulbs that are rated for that purpose. For example, the heat buildup in downlights will significantly shorten the life of spiral CFLs.
- Consider purchasing ENERGY STAR-qualified fixtures. They are available in many styles, distribute light more efficiently and evenly than standard fixtures, and some offer convenient features such as dimming.
- Controls such as timers and photocells save electricity by turning lights off when not in use. Dimmers save electricity when used to lower light levels. Be sure to select products that are compatible with the energy-efficient bulbs you want to use.
- LEDs work well indoors and outdoors because of their durability and performance in cold environments. Look for LED products such as pathway lights, step lights, and porch lights for outdoor use. You can also find solar-powered outdoor lighting.
- Because outdoor lights are usually left on a long time, using CFLs or LEDs in these fixtures will save a lot of energy. Most bare spiral CFLs can be used in enclosed fixtures that protect them from the weather.
- Look for ENERGY STAR-qualified fixtures that are designed for outdoor use and come with features like automatic daylight shut-off and motion sensors.
- Christmas tree lighting tips: Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
- Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.
- Use LED strands as they produce less heat and are more energy efficient.
- Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.
- Load the washing machine to capacity when possible. Most people tend to underload rather than overload their washers. Check your machine’s load capacity in pounds, then weigh out a few loads of laundry to get a sense of how much laundry 10 or 18 to 20 pounds represents. Then use your eye to judge the volume of clothes for a load. Washing one large load will take less energy than washing two loads on a low or medium setting.
- If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
- Use lower temperature settings. Use warm or cold water for the wash cycle instead of hot (except for greasy stains), and only use cold for rinses.
- Experiment with different laundry detergents to find one that works well with cooler water. By pre-soaking heavily soiled clothes, a cooler wash temperature may be fine. The temperature of the rinse water does not affect cleaning, so always set the washing machine on cold water rinse.
- If you have a front-loading washer or high-efficiency top-loader, use detergent labeled for high-efficiency (HE) machines. HE detergents are low-sudsing and quick-dispersing to clean well in high-efficiency washers that use less water.
- ENERGY STAR clothes washers clean clothes using 35% less water and 20% less energy than standard washers.
- When drying, separate your clothes and dry similar types of clothes together.Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
- Dry full loads when possible, but be careful not to overfill the dryer. Drying small loads wastes energy. Air should be able to circulate freely around the drying clothes.
- Don’t over-dry clothes. Take clothes out while they are still slightly damp to reduce the need for ironing – another big energy user. If your dryer has a setting for auto-dry, be sure to use it instead of the timer to avoid wasting energy.If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
- Clean the lint screen in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation and prevent fire hazards. A clogged filter will restrict flow and reduce dryer performance.
- Periodically, use the long nozzle tip on your vacuum cleaner to remove the lint that collects below the lint screen in the lint screen slot of your clothes dryer.
- Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the heat remaining in the dryer.
- Don’t add wet items to a load that is already partially dried.
- Dry two or more loads in a row, taking advantage of the heat still in the dryer from the first load.
- Dry clothes outside - the fresh air helps to kill bacteria and dust mites, and the sunlight even fades stains.
- ENERGY STAR clothes dryers use 20% less energy than conventional models. When shopping for a new clothes dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry. Not only will this save energy, it will save the wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.