Make a Difference

There are many ways, big and small, that you can reduce your personal 'carbon footprint'.

Two 'Big Hits'

If you live in Canada, most of your personal greenhouse gas emissions likely originate from your home and your vehicle.  So here are two ways you can make big reductions in your personal impact on the planet: 

Make your home more efficient.
NB homeowners can get grants and interest-free loans from Efficiency New Brunswick (866-643-8833), and all Canadian homeowners can get grants through Natural Resources Canada's ECO-Energy program.  According to Natural Resources Canada, homes over 25 years old have the potential to save 35% of their energy use.  Basement insulation, attic insulation, air sealing, wall insulation and, in some cases, doors and windows are typically the most cost-effective upgrades.

Drive an energy efficient vehicle.
Hybrid cars can go about 3 times as far on a liter of fuel as a typical sport utility vehicle, van or pickup truck.  Check vehicle fuel efficiency ratings at www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca to find the most fuel efficient vehicle that meets your needs.

Home upgrades and efficient vehicles can be significant investments, but both pay off handsomely through energy savings and greatly reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Smaller, everyday actions

Want to make an immediate difference, starting this very minute?  Here are some ways you can reduce your impact on our planet, starting today.  Low cost, reasonable effort, little impact on your lifestyle.

Drive less.
Carpool to work with a neighbor or colleague if you can for an instant fuel saving of 50%. Better still, take public transportation if it's available. Do all your errands in one trip. Organize neighborhood carpools for getting the kids to and from their activities.High potential for making a big impact quickly.

Drive gently.
Want to save 10-20% on your gas bill right away?  Imagine there's an egg taped under the toes of your right foot, and try not to smash the egg as you drive.  Accelerate gently instead of tramping on it, and ease off sooner as you approach a stop.  Find and use the free kilometers along your route, places where you can coast downhill without losing speed or slowing traffic. High potential for making a big impact quickly.

Telecommute.
If it's an option, work from home. Zero traffic, zero fuel used, zero time wasted en route.

Check your tire pressure monthly.
Underinflated tires reduce your vehicle's gas mileage, and overinflated tires wear out prematurely.

Commit to 'zero-idling'.
Idling more than 10 seconds wastes fuel and is hard on today's engines. Use the '10 second rule' to save money and reduce air pollution.

Avoid drive-throughs.
Each year, Canadians burn millions of liters of fuel idling at drive-throughs.  It's much more eco-friendly to park and go inside - and it's often faster too!

Avoid (ab)using remote starters.
A cold engine is ready to go after just 30 seconds of idling, and idling any longer wastes fuel.  The best way to warm up the entire car is to drive it.

Choose locally produced food.
Local food not only helps out producers in your community, but it's better for the environment because it doesn't need to be transported halfway round the world.

Compost.
Turn veggie trimmings and other organic waste into fertilizer for your garden. It's simple and odor-free, and it reduces garbage transportation and landfill costs.

Reduce, reuse, recycle in that order.
Consider grocery bags: it's best to use cloth bags, reducing the need for plastic bags; second best to reuse your plastic bags; and third best to recycle plastic bags.  But any of the 3 Rs are better than simply discarding.  The same logic applies to most things we buy or use. 

Use a clothesline.
A dryer is one of the biggest users of energy in a home.  A clothesline can do the same job for free. It's the original solar energy collector!

Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
Traditional incandescent light bulbs are only about 10% - they produce far more heat than light.  In comparison, CFLs use about one-fourth the energy to give the same amount of light. Plus, CFLs last for years.

Turn out the lights.
In fact, go a step further and turn off anything when it is not being used, including computers, stereos and televisions.

Use less air conditioning.
Air conditioning reduces mileage and produces greenhouse gases. As an alternative, try using fresh air settings on the highway and roll down your windows to enjoy fresh air at lower speeds.

Install a low flow shower head.
Hot water represents 20% of a home's energy use, and you can save a lot by installing a shower head that uses much less water but still provides a pleasant shower.

Wash clothes in cold water.
Many of today's laundry detergents have been developed specifically for cold water use, so you can count on clean clothes and significant savings. 

Plant a tree.
All plants absorb CO2 from the air, and trees are especially good at it: one tree can absorb one tonne over its lifetime.

Write your elected representatives.
Let our leaders know that you support policies and programs to fight climate change.

It's up to each of us - in big ways or small, each of us can change our corner of the world and make a difference.

Want to hear more energy saving tips - for home, business or travel?  Just contact Carl!