So you would like to see a 100% renewable energy future in Ontario and in Canada, but you’re frustrated with how slow the transition is? The easiest first step to supporting this transition is improving the energy efficiency of your home and increasing your energy conservation.
On Monday, October 26th, Green Neighbours 21 put on an event titled “Green and Very Cheap: How to Cut your Energy Bills and Join the Solar Revolution for Next to Nothing”. Speakers from SolarShare and Grasshopper Solar spoke about how to get involved in solar energy through investing in solar bonds and putting solar panels on your roof. Marco Iacampo, Program Manager from the City of Toronto’s Home Energy Loan Program (HELP), focused on how to complement renewable energy with energy conservation, which is “a great way to lessen the effect of rising energy costs.”
From small behavioural changes to switching to more energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances, there are lots of great ways for individuals to conserve energy. An even bigger impact in energy use and costs can be realized with energy efficient home improvements and renovations, since up to 60% of annual home electricity costs come from heating and cooling.
Through HELP, the City of Toronto offers low interest loans to qualifying homeowners to complete energy and water efficiency improvements to their home, which often have large upfront costs. Improvements can include: air sealing, installation of a heat recovery ventilator and replacing an old toilet. For Toronto apartment dwellers, the High-rise Retrofit Improvement Program (Hi-RIS), offers similar incentives.
According to Iacampo, energy conservation is “low risk, and high reward.” It is proven that upgrades to the efficiency of your home will lower energy use and energy bills. With these savings, beneficiaries of HELP loans should expect to see a return on investment in approximately 10-12 years.
In addition to the HELP program, there are offerings funded by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in Ontario. Save on Energy programs, offered by local electricity utilities in Ontario, offer incentives for improving the efficiency of your home, such as upgrading to Energy Star certified heating and cooling systems.
Hopefully one day, such conservation programs won’t be needed. As Iacampo remarked, “the provincial government is looking towards making home energy guide ratings part of the transaction of selling a home.” This would mean that if you have made upgrades to the efficiency of your home, the EnerGuide Home Evaluation would increase the resale value of your home by showing potential buyers the decreased energy bills they would be paying.
If we all work together to reduce our energy demand through energy efficiency and conservation, we can begin to reduce our reliance on non-renewable energy sources, while at the same time expanding proliferation of renewable energy.
Image of HELP Logo: The Home Inspectors Group Inc. – HELP, City of Toronto
Image of Smart Energy Living pyramid: TellerEnergy, – “Energy Efficiency Pyramids”
Header image source: Town of Danvers, “Energy Pyramid”