Why Conserve Energy?
Energy conservation and energy efficiency are two of the most straightforward and practical steps we can take to reduce our demand on fossil fuels and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change. Cost effective conservation and efficiency measures bring about various environmental, economic and system benefits.
More efficient energy usage reduces the need for fossil fuel extraction, decreases air and water pollution, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, leaving us with a healthier living environment. Other than playing a central role in energy management, investment in energy conservation and efficiency reduces the strain on our electricity systems, while providing countless benefits to the local economy.
By allowing local utilities, companies and retailers to manage their own energy use, there is a reduced need to import natural gas and electricity supply from external sources, keeping the money within local economies. In addition, when energy users retrofit their homes or upgrade their appliances to more energy efficient forms, a demand for such services is generated, leading to job creation in the energy sector.
For consumers, lower energy bills means decreased cost of living and more disposable income; while for businesses, lower energy costs increases the price-competitiveness of their products and services. Even governments reap benefits– by spending less on energy use and subsidies, funds are freed up for other programs and services that add value to residents.
Creating a System Shift– Advancing Technology and Knowledge:
IESO in Ontario has demand response programs that that provide financial incentives– in the form of rebates or vastly reduced electricity rates– to residential and commercial customers to shift or reduce their electricity usage away from peak periods, thus reducing the strain on the grid and increasing the reliability of the electricity system.
Technologies like smart meters and Smart Grids in Ontario communicate consumption information to utilities, helping consumers participate more readily in conservation efforts, make more informed decisions, and allows for more distributed, renewable energy-based electricity generation. Ontario has a program called the Green Button Initiative that provides electricity consumers the opportunity to access and benchmark their energy usage data through apps on their smartphone, increasing awareness of their own consumption trends and encouraging them to take individual action.
In addition to technological innovations and policy changes, simple behavioural and lifestyle changes by individuals can play a key role in contributing to the larger conservation efforts of our province. So what can the average resident do to reduce their energy consumption and increase energy efficiency standards of their homes? Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Switch to energy efficient LED light bulbs—they use 75% less energy than regular bulbs
- Install a programmable thermostat for air conditioners and heating systems
- Modernize your home appliances—newer refrigerators use two-thirds of the energy of one that’s 10 years old
- Wash your clothes in cold water—up to 90% of energy in laundry is used to heat water
- Purchase only highly energy efficient appliances– Energy Star certified products can reduce energy bills by as much as 30%!
Watch the video clip below, and stay tuned for more from Our Power in the upcoming weeks for the launch of our complete video series, along with resources on how you can take action to help get Canada to 100% renewable energy as quickly as possible.