So, apparently I was living under a rock this summer, because somehow I missed the Eco-City Challenge that was sponsored by a consortium of groups: Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance (CEEA), Green Living Enterprises, Scotiabank and the Pembina Institute. It was launched at the Green Living Show in April in Toronto, and continued countrywide throughout the summer until November 1, 2013. The goal of the contest was to empower Canadians through education to reduce their energy use. More than 41,000 people in 1,300+ municipalities from across Canada participated in the challenge. The province of Quebec had the largest conservation efforts, more than 18.6 kilowatt-hours/year and more than $2.2 million saved. Toronto was the city with the largest number of people taking conservation steps saving 3.4 million kwh/year and $400,000 annually. Montreal and Ottawa came in second and third respectively. In total the CEEA projects savings of up to $5.6 million and 47 million kwh of electricity annually. The municipality with the most savings per capita was French River, Ontario, with total conservation efforts of 254 kwh/yr/capita (population: 137).
The challenge itself was issued in the form of a questionnaire that asked what energy conservation steps you had taken in the last year and what you were planning on doing in the future. Every action already taken was worth one point, and every action you committed to in the future was worth one quarter of a point — to account for the possibility of actions not taken within the next year.
While the people who entered the challenge were eligible to win a suite of new energy efficient Whirlpool appliances — and that may have been an incentive in and of itself — the point the challenge makes is that the least expensive kilowatt-hour is the one not used. As winter descends upon us, now is the time to take those conservation steps such as draftproofing/weatherizing any leaks or cracks in your home’s building envelope, and checking to see that your programmable thermostat is on the right settings (for instance, I just noticed that ours was still set to daylight savings time).
What you can do: Just because the challenge is over doesn’t mean we should stop conserving. It’s good for your wallet and the environment, and as taxpayers, the more we conserve, the less need there is for new power plants. In fact in Ontario, the last three coal-generated power plants are being closed down – two this year and the final one in 2014. The last one will be converted to an “advanced biomass generation” plant.
I’ve written a lot on ways to make your home a little more energy efficient, including using my favourite – the KiloWatt to find out which appliances are your main energy hogs. But I recently discovered three more websites that have great tips on how to save energy at home:
The Canadian Energy Efficiency Association has a consumer page with easy tips to follow to lighten your household load.
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy is packed full of really interesting (okay, for energy nerds like me) information complete from energy policies at the national, state and municipal level, as well as tools and resources to help improve energy efficiency for consumers, businesses and municipalities. For policy makers there is a beta version of a City-Energy self-rating scorecard. You can fill in the details and compare your municipality with other (albeit American) cities. It’s a great starting off point for smaller municipalities with limited resources.
The Top Ten USA – this is a fantastic website that highlights the brands and models of the most energy efficient appliances and some electronics available in the US (I have to think their equivalents are available in Canada), it includes boilers, clothes washers, computers and LED light bulbs and more. If you live in the US, there are also links to available rebates.