Future Energy Oakville

Earth Day 2024


Greening Your Home and Commute

Sustainable Strategies for a Greener Future

With Earth Day fast approaching, there’s no better time to reflect on our individual contributions to environmental sustainability. As a responsible homeowner and commuter in Oakville, there are several impactful steps you can take to reduce energy consumption, lower emissions, and contribute to a healthier planet.

Home Energy Efficiency

Energy Audits:

Begin by conducting an energy audit of your home: EnerGuide for Home Evaluations. According to Natural Resources Canada, up to 30% of energy used in homes is wasted. This wasted energy contributes to unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and places a strain on natural resources. An audit can help us, as homeowners, pinpoint areas where energy is being squandered, such as through leaky windows, outdated appliances, or inefficient HVAC systems.

Energy audits often reveal opportunities for significant cost savings. When we tackle energy inefficiencies, we can reduce our utility bills over time. The average household in Oakville can save around 5-30% on energy bills by implementing recommendations from an energy audit.

By reducing energy waste in our homes, we directly contribute to mitigating climate change and reducing our ecological footprint. The energy saved translates to fewer greenhouse gas emissions released. And with recent data showing Oakville increased GHG emissions by 12% in 2022, improving energy efficiency in our homes is one of the most effective and immediate ways to reduce carbon emissions globally – and get us back on track!

Upgraded Insulation:

Invest in upgrading your home’s insulation. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) estimates that upgrading insulation can result in energy savings of up to 30%. This translates to significant cost savings on utility bills over time. Who doesn’t want to enjoy a more comfortable living environment while also benefiting financially from reduced energy expenses?

And if you’re thinking about making the upgrade, the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) recommends using eco-friendly insulation materials like cellulose or recycled fiberglass. Made from renewable resources or recycled content, these materials offer sustainable alternatives to traditional insulation products and reduce the demand for virgin materials – minimizing environmental impact.

Improved insulation not only contributes to energy efficiency but also enhances indoor air quality and comfort. Proper insulation helps regulate humidity levels, prevents drafts, and reduces noise infiltration, creating a healthier and more pleasant living space.

And upgrading your insulation is a long-term investment in the sustainability and value of your home.

Energy-Efficient Appliances:

Switch to energy-efficient appliances certified by ENERGY STAR. Natural Resources Canada reports that using these appliances can save up to 30% on energy bills. Look for ENERGY STAR labels when purchasing refrigerators, washing machines, and other household gadgets.

Smart Home Technology:

Embrace smart home technology to optimize energy usage. Smart thermostats, for instance, can automatically adjust temperature settings based on your schedule, leading to significant energy savings. A study conducted by Hydro-Québec from Fall 2022 to Spring 2023 found that households using smart thermostats reduced their energy consumption by up to 10%.

Home Retrofit Ideas

Bigger projects may take a bit more time and research, but they can also bring a long-term benefit. One way to celebrate Earth Day is to start exploring what options you have as a homeowner with big renovation plans.

Solar Panels:

Harness the power of the sun by exploring the possibility of installing solar panels on your roof. Oakville receives a significant amount of sunlight, especially during the summer months. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Oakville averages around 2,000 hours of sunshine annually, providing ample solar energy potential for residential solar panel systems.

By installing solar panels on rooftops, homeowners can directly contribute to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA) notes that a typical residential solar system in Canada can offset 3-4 tons of carbon dioxide annually. This reduction in emissions helps combat climate change and air pollution, benefiting both Oakville and the planet as a whole.

Embracing solar energy aligns with Oakville’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability goals (Check out the Community Energy Strategy). By embracing clean energy solutions like solar power, we can demonstrate leadership in reducing our environmental impact and preserving natural resources for future generations.

Geothermal Heating:

Explore geothermal heating and cooling systems. These systems utilize renewable energy from the ground, reducing reliance on fossil fuels. The Canadian GeoExchange Coalition notes that geothermal systems can cut heating and cooling costs by up to 70%.

By opting for geothermal systems, we can significantly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. This reduction directly contributes to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change impacts, aligning with global and local sustainability goals.

Green Roofs:

For urban dwellers, green roofs offer multiple benefits. Green roofs absorb and retain rainwater, reducing the volume of runoff that enters the municipal stormwater system. This can alleviate strain on stormwater infrastructure, prevent flooding, and mitigate water pollution by reducing the amount of contaminants carried by runoff into waterways. For a town like Oakville, situated near Lake Ontario, managing stormwater effectively is crucial for preserving water quality and ecosystem health.

And while they may not be suitable for everyone, green roofs also offer the potential for energy consumption reduction. A study conducted by Toronto Metropolitan University highlights a significant advantage of green roofs in terms of energy consumption reduction – up to 15% in residential buildings.

Personalized Transportation Strategy

For those not already plugged in on the data, Oakville tops all Ontario cities when it comes to new battery charged vehicles, according to 2022 registration data from Statistics Canada. The town logs four electric vehicles for every 1,000 people who live here.

If Spring finds you in the market for some new wheels, you may want to consider switching to an electric vehicle. Driving an EV can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 60% compared to traditional gasoline vehicles.

Public Transit and Active Commuting:

Utilize public transit, cycling, or walking whenever possible. Statistics Canada reveals that commuters who use public transit emit 4.6 times less carbon dioxide per person than those who drive alone.

Active commuting options not only benefit the environment but also promote personal health and well-being. Walking and cycling are excellent forms of exercise that contribute to physical fitness and mental well-being. This aligns with the Town of Oakville’s goals of creating a healthy and livable community for its residents.

Carpooling:

Explore carpooling or car-sharing services in your area. Sharing rides reduces the overall number of vehicles on the road, leading to decreased emissions.

You don’t need to wait until April 22 to begin making a change in improving your relationship with the environment. There are numerous ways you can make a difference, the biggest one is taking the first step.

We have a unique opportunity to take meaningful action towards sustainability and emission reduction. By implementing changes, such as utilizing public transit, cycling, or walking, upgrading our home energy efficiency, and embracing green retrofit concepts we can make a tangible difference in reducing our carbon footprint.

Don’t forget to sign up for the FEO newsletter and keep checking back for more strategies on making a difference in Oakville. https://futureenergyoakville.ca/ 

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