Homes and other buildings are responsible for 30 per cent of Canada’s energy use, and in provinces like Ontario, a big chunk of that electricity comes from burning coal. (B.C. and Quebec, on the other hand, rely heavily on hydro-electricity, which does not create smog.) Cutting energy use at home in Ontario, in other words, will hasten the day when coal plants are shut.
Following are some suggestions to cut your energy use and improve the local air.
- Draft-proof your home. About 30 per cent of home heat is lost through cracks and crevices. Close the fireplace damper.
- Turn down your hot water temperature by 5 degrees C. You’ll cut energy demand by about 3 per cent.
- Replace your old furnace. A 10-yearold clunker wastes 45 per cent of its heat. A new natural gas furnace is 98 per cent efficient.
- Wash clothes in cold water; don’t dry them until the dryer is full.
- Stop using that gas-powered lawnmower and leaf blower. Get a push mower and a rake. Those off-road engines – powerboats, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, snowmobiles – are responsible for 20 per cent of pollution from mobile sources.
- Plant a tree near your house. Backyard trees may cut your need for air conditioning by 40 per cent, and your need for heating by 10 per cent.
- In winter months, turn down the thermostat by 1 degree C during the day and 2 degrees C at night.
- Reduce your use of oil-based paints, lawn pesticides and cleaning solvents. When they dry, they release VOCs. By 2010 they will contribute to more than twice the amount of VOCs from all transportation sources.
- Purchase “green power” for your home’s electrical needs. Green power, generated by water, sun and wind, does not create smog.
- Buy new energy efficient appliances.
- Use compact fluorescent lights. They require one-fifth to one-quarter of the energy of the old incandescent bulbs.