For many of us summer is a time for camping, biking, hiking, swimming, road trips, beaches, and barbeques.  It’s a time to enjoy the great outdoors our beautiful country has to offer.  Officially we have another forty-five days of it this year (I’m counting to September 22nd), but realistically we all know August is flying by.  So let this serve as a reminder to get outside and make the most of it.  But before you rush out the door, take a moment to remember why the outdoors is so great and help take some steps to keep it that way.



Bags packed and energy minimized 

The energy I’m referring to is in your home and at work.  Just like making sure your bag is packed, prepare your home and work for your vacation too.   If you’re outdoors camping, living off the land (or the cooler), you don’t want to think of your empty home chugging away, wasting your energy and money.  By making a few changes before you go you can save money and help conserve the environment you’re going out to enjoy.  I’ve made a few recommendations below and I’d like to hear what steps you take in the comments section.  If you’re looking for more permanent changes you can make, Toronto Hydro has put out an excellent handbook full of tips and information.  You can download the handbook here (Toronto Hydro Energy Conservation Handbook).  Okay, back to reducing energy for your vacation:


  1. Adjust your thermostat to use less A/C, try changing the cooling setpoint to 30 degC (85degF) while you’re away
  2. Close your blinds, especially in sunny rooms
  3. Unplug electronics and shut down your computer, monitor and printer (try out a smart power bar to help you do this all the time)
  4. Turn off lights and use timers
  5. Turn down your water heater, check to see if it has a “vacation mode”


Toronto Hydro notes that ~60% of your energy costs are tied up in heating and cooling, while another 20% is in hot water.  Focusing on the big things is important, it’s where a small change can have a big impact.  But that doesn’t mean you should forget about something like your the lights.  Keeping them on means you’re not only wasting expensive electricity, you are also putting unwanted heat into your house.  That heat has to be removed in the summer with your electrically powered A/C unit (yes even with LEDs most of the energy in lighting is converted to heat).

Beyond energy

Looking beyond just energy, don’t forget to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  I know it’s an old saying put it still holds true.  For information about UHN’s recycling check out the information on our department page:

And when you’re out there enjoying the sun, don’t forget to take your sustainability mindset you. Get your whole family involved, rally your coworkers, save energy, and protect the environment.  Have a great rest of the summer everyone!