Five ways to save energy beyond Earth Hour

This Saturday March 30 is Earth Hour, a now twelve year global tradition of turning the lights out to signify a collective commitment to the wellness of our planet. If you’ve ever participated in Earth Hour –whether it was this year or five years ago– you know that it feels good to do. There’s something about taking part in a global movement that makes you feel empowered to make a difference. So the question is, why only do something that makes you feel empowered for an hour?

The truth is there are plenty of ways you can keep that feeling going by reducing the energy use in your everyday life. And I promise you, making those changes is a lot easier than you might think. With the power of Earth Hour still front of mind, let’s uncover easy ways to save energy not just for one hour, but every hour. Here are five ways to start:

1. Become energy aware

To begin, it’s important to understand how you’re using energy in your day-to-day routine and where you can begin to make changes.

A great place to start is with your utilities, hydro and gas companies commonly provide information on your monthly energy use. Usually this information is made available through an online customer profile or on your bill. If you want to learn more, reach out to your utility for help on accessing this information.

You can also choose to do a personal audit of your usage. Instead of coasting on auto-pilot take the time to notice how and when you use energy throughout the day. From how many lights you turn on when you wake up in the morning, to whether you let the TV lull you to sleep, it all counts, and being aware of these actions is the first step to making a change.

Here’s a tip for my fellow renters, If you don’t have access to your utility bills reach out to your landlord for information on monthly energy use!

2. Get rid of the phantoms

Although you may have never seen them, you have energy ghosts living in your home. Phantom power is the energy consumed by home electronics when they’re ‘off’ or in standby mode. Many household electronics continue to consume energy if they are kept plugged in to an outlet. It’s estimated that 10 per cent of a household’s electricity consumption can be attributed to phantom power. That’s a lot of energy. Luckily, when it comes to these ghosts you don’t have to call the Ghostbusters.

To begin think about what small electronics and appliances you can unplug after use, like, toasters, coffee machines, phone chargers, computer chargers, kettles and electric toothbrushes. You can then look to the larger phantom power consumers such as your entertainment centre. Televisions, PVRs and gaming consoles are fans of the phantom. Instead of having to unplug your TV every day (which would be highly inconvenient) consider purchasing a smart power bar. These power bars allow you to set a schedule, so you can set your entertainment centre to be off when you’re away and ready for use when you’ve returned home.

3. Don’t forget about lighting

We’ve all been reminded time and time again of the energy-efficiency benefits of LED bulbs (and they’re all true!), and the good news is the world of LEDs continues to grow. There are now a wide variety of bulb colours and brightness available to help you find the right shade or ambiance for your home.

But don’t forget that there is more that you can do to save energy when it comes to lighting. Go beyond the bulbs by purchasing ENERGY STAR-certified light fixtures or by installing dimmers instead of switches.

4. Purchase a smart thermostat for your home

A smart thermostat is an easy way to not only tune in to how your home is using energy, but to minimize its use as well. Smart thermostats monitor the heating and cooling patterns of a home and provide reports on your usage through the thermostat’s mobile app.

Smart thermostats also come with a whole whack of cool features. They allow you to set a heating or cooling schedule to help you save when you’re away and stay comfortable when you’re in. The app also enables you to access the temperature of your home from anywhere, at anytime. If you’re interested, check out popular smart thermostat brands like Ecobee and Nest.

5. Look for new opportunities to make a difference

There are plenty of ways to save energy at home, and usually saving energy comes with added benefits such as increased home comfort. If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into how you could reduce energy and your carbon footprint, consider taking part in the six week series offered by Carbon Conversations TO. Having just completed the series myself, I now have a much better understanding of the big and small changes I can make in my own life to make a difference. Learn more by visiting www.carbonconversationsto.ca