My New Prgrammable Thermostat

A representative from Horizon Utilities came by this morning and installed my new, free programmable thermostat.  I signed up for the peek saver program, which gives you a $25 credit on your account and a free programmable thermostat.   Then at peek energy times they can send a wireless signal to temporarily alter the central air conditioner’s compressor cycle to 15 minutes on then 15 minutes off for 4  hours between May and September.  I think it is a win – win situation.  They have installed aournd 7000 so far in St. Catharines and Hamilton.  And if you have been thinking about it, they have just updated the thermostats that they are installing – so now is a good time.

In our household energy use 49% goes towards heating and cooling, anything we can do in our homes to improve heating and cooling pays off big for the environment, and usually for our wallet.

Here are some helps in the heating and cooling area:

  • replace older heating systems with an energy efficient furnace
  • check and replace filters regularly, have annual tune-ups, make sure all the ducts are sealed properly to ensure maximum air flow
  • installing a programmable thermostat can save 5-10% on an energy bill
  • use a ceiling fan instead of AC (the fan uses one tenth the electricity per year)
  • living in the northern hemisphere plant coniferous trees on the north side to block cold winds and plant deciduous trees on the south side for shade (carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of the energy used for cooling)
  • close curtains and blinds at night during winter and during the day in the summer
  • turn the thermostat down by 1 or 2 degrees

A great way to determine your home energy deficits is to bring in an energy auditor or a home performance analyst.  There is also government funding for this (this one is specifically Ontario).

The government is interested in helping us to be more energy efficient.  Here are a couple of other websites that list some funding available through Environment Canada and Natural Resources Canada.  It is a bit of reading, but if you are thinking of making changes, check these websites out first.

I am excited about the new thermostat, and if I wanted I could change the temperature in my house right now.  It is accessible over the Internet, cool hey?!

Published in: on February 19, 2009 at 7:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Food Miles

I am now well aware of the miles that food travels, the statistics state that food on average travels around 1300 miles to reach our plate.  This notion was really brought home last night.

Last night our niece took Chris and I out to The Keg for dinner, she had a gift card from her workplace and kindly decided to take us with her.   I am not much for beef, so I usually have salmon at the Keg, but I thought I need to ask where this salmon is from.  Chris was skeptical – how can you tell if it is responsibly fished based on where it is from.  Of course, I have not done enough research to know that.  But I thought what is the harm in asking, right?  Well, when the waitress came back (because she had no clue where it was from), she let us know that it came from – guess – New Zealand!  I was totally not expecting that.  I did not want to have something that had literally travelled half-way around the world – so I had chicken.

Eating local food is always a great idea, but not always available.  I know there are also some local restaurants that try to serve local fare, and they need to be supported.  I think part of this green process is about asking questions and thinking ahead.  We can’t used our fast-paced life as an excuse for not taking the time to ask questions, be informed, and make changes.

Published in: on February 14, 2009 at 2:18 am  Comments (2)  

Did you turn off the …?

When I grew up this phrase usually ended with “the lights”, and I have heard myself ask my own kids that question numerous times.  It is obvious, right? We see the lights on, so we know they need to be turned off.  Well, now because of  phantom power I think the phrase will end a little differently.

Did you know that on average 75% of all electricity used to power household electronic items is sent to them while they are turned off?  Considering that electronics account for 7 % of our total household energy use, what would happen if we did some unplugging?  

We currently have our computer and our television/DVD/stereo all plugged into power bars, and for the last couple of weeks I have been turning off the power bar when they are not in use.  It is actually not that inconvenient. 

Did you turn off the power bar?

Published in: on February 11, 2009 at 7:37 pm  Comments (1)  

Driving in the Slow Lane

I am not sure if it is growing up on a farm in rural Alberta, or just the genes passed down to me from my father, but I have been know to have a heavy foot when it comes to driving.  (Although, I did not try to kill gophers on the road while driving at high speeds, like Dad did.)  So moving to the slow lane is difficult for me.

For every gallon of gas a car burns it releases 20 lbs of carbon dioxide into the air, so to preserve our earth we need to foster fuel efficiency.  So I have a list of 10 things we can do to be more fuel efficient in our automobiles, because not all of us can afford to go out and purchase a Toyota Prius.

  1. The optimal fuel efficiency for all cars is around 100 km/h, so drive the speed limit.
  2. Keep your tires properly inflated because then there is less surface area that comes in contact with the road, therefore creating less drag.
  3. Idling for more than 10 seconds is actually less efficient than turning the car off and on again, so avoid drive throughs.
  4. Drive at a steady speed, and avoid sudden braking or accelerating.
  5. In manuel transmission switch to a higher gear as soon as possible.
  6. Using the AC decreases fuel efficiency (easy right now, but lets see how it goes come summer).
  7. Keep the air filters clean.
  8. Pack light, don’t carry around extra stuff in your car.
  9. Keep the engine properly maintained.
  10. Smile at all the people passing you in the slow lane, maybe they will see how much fun it is to slow down and want to join in.

I have made a couple successful trips to the Hamilton Airport in the slow lane.  The first time was the hardest, and I had to talk myself through the experience.  I kept telling myself: just relax, think of how much less carbon dioxide you are producing, the slow lane is the new cool lane, etc.  The true test will be if I can stay in the slow lane for the whole 3 hour trip to the cottage – with small children.

Published in: on February 3, 2009 at 2:27 am  Comments (1)  

Vacuuming coils

Today, I vacuumed the coils on the back of my fridge, not because I hate dust, or because my mom is coming (that is why I mopped my floor and cleaned under the kitchen sink).  I did it because if I vacuum my coils every 4-6 months I will extend the life of my fridge and encourage it’s optimal performance.

Maintaining a tight seal on the doors is another green saver, as is making sure there is no frost build-up in the freezer.  To test the seal on the doors, close some money (no, not coins) in the door, if it is held snugly there is a good seal.  What I am wondering is, do I check the seal all the way around the doors?  It sounds like a fun thing to try with kids; I’ll get the girls to perform the experiment.

Published in: on January 20, 2009 at 2:10 am  Comments (1)