Your Climate Footprint
We all have an impact on the climate. This impact comes mainly from our energy consumption, whether because of our motorized or air travel or from our consumption of electricity, fuel oil or natural gas.
What you can do
What can you do immediately to reduce your carbon footprint?
- Use videoconferencing for meetings. You’ll help curb GHG emissions, achieve significant savings and avoid the stress of traveling and being away from home.
- Minimize the number of flights by combining trips. For example, plan several meetings at the same location to avoid more air travel. It’s easier on the planet and your wallet.
- Take the train. It only emits about one third to half of the greenhouse gases that a plane does. From Ottawa to Montréal or London to Paris, you’ll discover how comfortable it is to travel by train.
- Economy really means economy. It’s not only cheaper but also better for our climate, because more people per plane means fewer emissions per person. A return flight from Toronto to Beijing via Vancouver generates the equivalent of 7.4 t of CO2 emissions in economy class, 11 t in business class, and 17.7 t in first class. That makes first class 2.4 times more damaging than economy.
- Choose the most direct route possible. Take-off and landing require the most fuel. So the more stopovers, the more greenhouse gases you emit. Not to mention the hassle of waiting at airports.
- Vacation close to home. When living in Winnipeg, a holiday in the Austrian Alps with a plane change in Toronto emits about 7 times more greenhouse gases than a flight to Calgary to see the Rockies.
- Plan to use public transit when you arrive at your destination. It’s usually quite easy… and cheap.
- Style matters. Accelerating quickly, stopping abruptly and driving aggressively increases fuel consumption by up to 37%. Look ahead and drive defensively. It’s good for the environment, and good for your wallet.
- Slow down! Increasing your cruising speed from 100 km/h to 120 km/h will increase your fuel consumption by about 20%.
- No idling. When a vehicle idles longer than 10 seconds, it burns more fuel than when restarting the engine.
- Getting hot? Open the window. Turning on the air conditioner in city traffic increases fuel consumption by as much as 20%.
- Inflate the tires. One tire under-inflated by just 56 kPa (8 psi) can increase fuel consumption by 4%. So check the tire pressure monthly.
- Feeling deflated in the winter? Cold temperatures decrease the air pressure in tires, adding to the rolling resistance caused by snow and slush. Each tire that is under-inflated by 2 psi (14 kPa) causes a 1 % increase in fuel consumption. So check tire pressures regularly, especially after a sharp drop in temperature.
- Take control. Maintaining an even speed when traveling on dry, flat wide-open highways helps improve fuel efficiency. So use cruise control.
- Stay in shape. A poorly maintained vehicle consumes more fuel, produces more emissions, requires expensive repairs and has a lower resale value.
- Take public transport. Each year, a single city bus can take the equivalent of 40 vehicles off the roads, save some 10 000 litres of fuel and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 25 tonnes.
- The math is simple. Carpool with another person and reduce your emissions by half. Pool with four others and reduce your emissions to one fifth. Not to mention that your costs go down by the same amount. Vancouver, Toronto, Montréal and Halifax are among the Canadian cities that have van pool programs.
- Is your car freezing? Our winters are harsh, but one solution to the cold-engine dilemma is to use a block heater to warm the coolant, which in turn warms the engine block and lubricants. The engine will start more easily and reach its peak operating temperature faster. In temperatures below 0°C, block heaters can improve overall fuel economy by 10% or more until the engine reaches its operating temperature. Of course block heaters are best used with a timer to ensure that they don’t consume electricity all night.
- Shift it up a notch. When driving a standard vehicle, it’s best to change gears quickly, increasing to the highest and remaining there. Unless you’re passing or accelerating to merge onto a highway, change gears as soon as you hit 2 000 rpm/minute. Most modern cars can be driven in fourth or fifth gear once they reach 60 km/h.
- Put the car on a diet. It could stand to lose a few pounds. Each additional 100 kg uses about 0.5 L/100 km more gas.
- Buying a new vehicle? Check the EnerGuide label for its fuel consumption rating. EnerGuide labels are now included on all new light-duty vehicles sold in Canada. Fuel consumption ratings for all new cars, light-duty trucks and vans sold in Canada are also available in Natural Resources Canada’s Fuel Consumption Guide.
- Grease the wheels. When buying engine oil, make sure it is rated “energy conserving”. Using the lowest multigrade of oil recommended in your owner’s manual can improve the fuel efficiency of the engine, particularly when starting it cold.
- Short is not sweet. Avoid short car trips. Over the first four kilometers, a car uses around 30 litres/100 km while the engine warms up. By leaving the car behind for two of those trips per week, you will emit 50 kg less CO2 per year.
- To buy or not to buy? Consider a car sharing service: it can make a big difference to the climate.
- Skiing and biking? Roof racks increase fuel consumption by 10 to 50%, depending on the speed.
- How small is small? In normal driving conditions, smaller engines provide better fuel economy than larger engines. Choose the smallest engine that meets your everyday needs.
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- Energy efficiency pays. An average Canadian home has 30 light fixtures that consume close to $200 worth of electricity every year. Replacing just five bulbs with ENERGY STAR® qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs in rooms that require more than three hours of light per day saves approximately $30 a year.
- Every little bit helps. Replacing just one 60-watt incandescent light bulb with a 20-watt compact fluorescent in every Canadian household (more than 12 million of them) would save up to $73 million a year in energy costs. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by almost 400 000 tonnes—the equivalent of taking 80 000 cars off the road!
- Use a lid when cooking. Turn down the dial on the stove and use one third less power.
- Keep up the pressure. A pressure cooker is great for cooking times longer than 20 minutes. It requires 30% less energy than a conventional pot.
- Use the convection setting, choose a lower temperature setting and reduce the temperature by 20°C.
- Depending on the baking time, you can turn off the oven up to 15 minutes before the end of the total indicated time.
- To warm food, the microwave oven requires less energy than the electric oven.
- Turn off the water heater when on vacation.
- Install a timer on your water heater. That way you can switch it off or turn it down at night or when you are away.
- Wear a sweater. Every degree lower will save about 7% of energy. That’s up to 400 kg of CO2 per year for every degree, depending on the heating system.
- Existing buildings use up to three times more energy as new ones. Energy-focused renovations can reduce the amount of energy required for heating rooms and water by up to 80%.
- It takes a lot of energy to heat water. Even a quick 10-minute shower can use up to 190 litres (42 gallons) of hot water with a conventional showerhead. A low-flow showerhead can reduce this amount by half or even up to 8 or 9 litres while preserving the pressure and “feel” of the shower. Replacing the showerhead is simple, and you’ll still be able to enjoy a great shower to wake you up in the morning.
- When buying a new appliance choose ENERGY STAR qualified models and get the smallest appliance that meets your needs.
- Don’t worry, your laundry won’t freeze. Studies have shown that your laundry will come out just as clean if it’s rinsed in warm or cold water. Remember that the cold cycle uses a lot less power.
- Remember the 3R? Buy recycled products: they require less energy to produce than new products. Making recycled paper, for example, requires between 30 and 70% less energy than making paper from virgin sources. Recycled paper also helps reduce the paper’s methane emissions when it rots in landfills, and methane is a GHG that is 20 times more impactful than CO2.
- Be a control freak. Programmable thermostats control temperature fluctuations better than conventional ones. You could save up to 10% on your heating costs and recoup your investment in two to four years.