A few weeks ago, I basked in the delicious heat on what City News described as a “whopping 32C"on Thanksgiving Monday in Toronto. Sweltering heat created a fantastic scenario of turkey dinners being eaten on decks and patios all across the city. I used to call this phenomenon Indian summer, however in our day of environmental awareness (somewhere Al Gore is polishing his Nobel Peace Prize) climate change seems to be the preferred catch phrase. Hey, if it takes 30C+ weather in October to convince the masses that daily changes should to be made to help our planet, then so be it.
I do not doubt the seriousness of our global situation but I am of strong belief that it can be reversed. Thanks to ever present environmental propaganda, apocalyptic theories of the end of world enter my thoughts daily. As a result I am constantly surveying and judging my surroundings to whether or not they are environmentally friendly. My Thanksgiving dinner host turned on his conditioner that particular holiday Monday and my thoughts strayed- wondering about the efficiency of his appliances over more important things, like how much room to leave for dessert.
In a previous post I had proposed that HomeOwners should make changes to their homes and daily routines in baby-steps ignoring any pressure to completely alter their way of life. For example, if harvesting rain water does not fit your persona, then maybe a tankless water heater is the way to go.
As a HomeOwner, potential HomeSeller or HomeBuyer you may be lost as to where to start making environmentally friendly changes to your existing house or one you are interested in purchasing. Lo and behold: the government of Ontario is willing to help. A licensed home energy auditor will come to your home or office and inspect windows, doors and appliances then make suggestions to how you can update your space to make it more efficient. You then have eighteen months to apply the recommendations and have your home re-inspected. You are responsible for the cost of the audit however a percentage is refunded back to you and if your home is deemed efficient on the second inspection, you may be eligible for a government grant of up to $5,000. The downside is that you may be required to make permanent changes to your home and lifestyle to become eligible for the grant.
There is a growing trend of housing developers integrating solar energy into their designs. Okotoks solar community, near Calgary Alberta, was built to utilize solar energy for heating purposes and actually stores the sun’s warmth in underground bunkers. Following this trend, Ontario’s largest solar panels have recently been erected on a downtown Toronto building. The Toronto Star reported that Woodgreen, a Toronto community housing building, will now have a percentage of its water heated through solar energy, reducing their need for natural gas and their greenhouse gas emissions.
A home energy audit is a definite starting place to get you on your way to efficient living. For the HomeOwner who likes to ease into change: an auditor will locate improperly sealed windows and doors that are a drain on your heating costs and can be sealed easily and affordably. For those who want to save a little more: efficient furnaces, appliances and alternative heating is something to look into. Whichever route you chose, there is money to be saved and that is always a good thing.
Jesse is a freelance writer specializing in Toronto neighbourhoods. Email Jesse
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Shrinking Your Environmental Footprint as a Home Owner: Baby Steps For An Eco-Home