Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint

Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint

With the global population predicted to increase by half by the end of the century, we’re going to need another two billion homes on the planet. How can we collectively and more efficiently manage our energy use and reduce carbon emissions in our homes?

Electricity represents 42 per cent of energy used in the home, but greenhouse gases are not directly emitted when households turn on their lights. The carbon footprint of a home is largely dictated by where the electricity was sourced from.

The Pembina Institute, an energy thinktank, analyzed Canada’s greenhouse gas data, revealing that Canada’s power supply mix is already relatively low-carbon, thanks to hydropower facilities, nuclear power stations and renewable energy, which respectively generated 60 per cent, 16 per cent, and five per cent of total national electricity in 2016. However, a quarter of electricity that powers homes in Canada is generated using fossil fuels (coal and gas).

What can homeowners do to cut their carbon footprint if electricity is powered by fossil fuels? While you can’t change your power supply (unless you install solar panels), you can take steps to cut your electricity usage.

Begin by doing an energy audit of all the different appliances that use energy in your home. Then consider what changes you can make to reduce this usage. For example:

Don’t be on ‘stand by’: The average American household has 50 items that are drawing power even when not in use. These items in idle mode generate around a quarter of residential energy use. Turning off the equipment at the plug will prevent this wastage.

Fill your fridge: According to Home Energy Magazine, seven per cent of the energy use of a fridge is when the door is open. Most people know not to leave the fridge door open for long. But you can also cut your energy usage by keeping a well-stocked fridge – the food insulates the fridge so less energy is required to keep it cool.

Keep that air conditioner turned off. As our summers get hotter, there will be greater temptation to turn the air conditioning on. However, air conditioners use along of energy – on average of 3000 to 5000 watts of power every hour. Consider installing ceiling fans as a less energy-intensive alternative to cooling your home. You can also keep the sun out with blinds, curtains or tinted film.

Lighting: Switch your light bulbs to LED if you haven’t already – it can cut energy consumption by 90 per cent. Also for outside lighting, consider installing solar-powered lights to light your garden.

What other changes are you making in your home to cut your carbon footprint?

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