Georgian Bluffs Climate Action Team
Fighting Climate Change – Easy Steps Every Homeowner Can Take
Owen Sound SunTimes, January 14, 2021
When it comes to climate change, we all have a role to play in reducing its impact. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, homeowners have many opportunities to make a difference. There are sev-eral ways to reduce energy consumption and lower the CO2 emissions that equate to about 5-7 tonnes on average for an Ontario home.
The best impact any homeowner can make is through better insulation. Those of us in the Owen Sound area who live in older homes built before 1935 can make a significant impact. These buildings have a single wall of solid brick or stone. Houses built between 1935 and 1985 have double walls but with an unfilled cavity. Homes built after 1985 mostly have an insulated space in between the walls. One way to tell if your home needs insulation is when loft rooms are hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Icicles hanging from rooflines will also tell you you’re losing heat through your roof.
There are many things you can do. Ensuring that your roof, loft and walls are well insulated is a priority to reduce your CO2 impact, as well as reduce heating costs. Draught stripping is a sec-ond priority. Some houses lose as much as 25% of their heat through gaps around doors, win-dows, floorboards, and chimneys. Putting your hands over a power outlet on outside walls can sometimes tell you if you have heat loss that way. Double and triple-glazed windows come with built-in seals. There are also simple, low-cost options that can make a significant difference, such as taping on window plastic or using thick curtains that prevent the heat from escaping. Replac-ing old, painted-over draught strips is also a good idea as the paint prevents the draught strips from doing their work. While you are at it, if you have a suspended floor, check for gaps and fill them up with insulation foam or caulk.
Your heating system is another opportunity to make a difference. Getting an energy-efficient fur-nace or an on-demand hot-water heater are big-ticket items. However, they do make a substantial difference. Make sure to understand the controls of such systems because they have become so much more sophisticated. They do make it so much easier to regulate your energy consumption. If you want to change or adapt your controls, know that they can be altered or added to most sys-tems, so it might be worthwhile to check into that possibility.
If you have a hot-water heater, make sure the thermostat is no higher than 60°C. It will avoid the use of energy to keep a large volume of water hot. Insulating hot water pipes with insulation sleeves is easy to do if you have access to these pipes.
Looking at your electricity use is needed to monitor your impact. Why wait for your old energy-consuming lightbulbs to give out before replacing them with energy-efficient bulbs? You might also consider replacing older, energy-sucking appliances with newer, low-energy versions. To leave behind a healthier planet for future generations, we will all need adaptations in our life-style, like putting on extra sweaters rather than turning up the heat when you feel a little chilly. Making this switch is an easy habit to form for most people.
Some of these suggestions may take more time to implement than others. The point is that we all have the opportunity to play our role in fighting climate change. And that is an empowering thought.