Tips for today, tomorrow and ten years from now
Even though living a more eco-friendly lifestyle is easy, the first change can be overwhelming. There are so many variables and so much to do that it can stop you from making simple choices that would positively affect the environment.
To help you out, and encourage you to make those changes, we’ve gathered a few tips to guide you through the process.
1. Educate yourself
This may seem like a given, but education is always the first step to any change. Take an afternoon or two, or come into Energy Smart to chat about the possibilities. We’ll help you form a coherent plan that you can follow through on.
Everyone knows they should be recycling, but many of us still don’t do it. The good news is, as of spring 2019 all of Lethbridge is adopting curbside recycling. You can still go to the three main recycling depots, which also double as yard waste depots. Or, if you can wait for the recycling truck to come around, you can find out your schedule for pickup at the city’s Waste Wizard site.
3. Invest Smarter
Chances are you’re already investing. But, do you know the effect the companies you’re investing in are having on the environment? This may seem like a small step, but by taking your money out of companies that don’t respect the environment, and putting it back into companies that do, you’re helping to change the way businesses do business. And that has a huge impact.
4. Perform standard maintenance
There are some things in your home, like light bulbs, that need to be routinely replaced. Filling up the landfill with old incandescent bulbs that still work isn’t the best way to change over, but when you do have to replace light bulbs, good-quality LED bulbs can cut back your energy consumption. If you want to go a step beyond, replacing your thermostat with a new smart thermostat, like a Nest or EcoBee, will also help you keep your energy bill in check.
5. Get your groceries at the farmers’ market
Farmers’ markets are more than just a fun outing for the family. With less packaging and transportation, farmers markets are the perfect place to get organic food that is light on the environment and more delicious than its grocery store cousin. There are two farmers’ markets in Lethbridge that run from spring to fall: one downtown and one at Exhibition Park.
6. Upgrade your appliances
Just like replacing light bulbs, it’s best not to just throw away working appliances in favour of the latest and greatest. However, if you are planning to sell your old appliances, or your appliances just don’t work anymore, switching over to energy efficient models will lower your energy consumption. For many, the word ‘appliance’ stays in the kitchen, but water heaters, space heaters, and toilets can be easily exchanged for more efficient counterparts as well. Drain water heat recovery systems can also be added to decrease your energy consumption, and effectively increase the size of your hot water tank. If you want some help, drop by Energy Smart. We’d be happy to guide you through your options, whether we carry the appliance or not.
7. Find greener transportation
As a culture, we use a lot of petroleum products. And in Lethbridge, it’s hard to get around without using your car every day. Whether you live in the Westside and work downtown, or you just like going to Costco for your groceries, surviving without a car is almost impossible. And that’s without taking Old Man Winter into to the equation. However, just because you can’t ditch your car completely doesn’t mean you can’t choose to bus, bike, or walk when you have the chance. Plus, the new Park ‘n’ Ride downtown makes it easier than ever to park your car in a central location and use regional bus service, a bicycle or your own two feet to get around. As a bonus, self-propelled travel will keep you healthy.
8. Renovate your home
Renovating your entire house is a big step and not one to be taken lightly. However, renovating your home can help you cut your energy and water bill by a staggering amount, especially if you own an older home. Installing double, or even triple-glazed windows during renovations will help you save money on heating, and maintain a more even temperature in your home. Likewise, adding high R-value insulation to your walls and ceiling will help lower your heating bill. Of course, saving energy isn’t the only road to an eco-friendly home. Shower Steamers and appliances with low water usage and low water-use toilets can help you use less water, and lower your impact on the environment.
Because renovations are such a big step, with so much possibility for saving energy (and nearly as much for making regrettable choices), it’s best to consult a professional before starting your renovation in order to get the most return on your money. An Energuide energy efficiency home evaluation will let you know where your current home is the least energy efficient, and what can be done to help. And, as always, if you want someone to talk to about your options, we’re here ready and willing to give you some advice.
9. Invest in solar panels
For many homes, a well-designed solar power system can meet 100% of their energy needs year round. Lethbridge and the entirety of Southern Alberta get more sunlight than almost anywhere else in Canada, making solar panels the perfect solution for powering your home on green energy. Contact us for a free site inspection and get a better idea of what a solar installation can do for you.
10. Go geothermal
Geothermal is the most efficient heating system available today, with up to 500% efficiency. And, unlike in the past, geothermal works as a complete heating and cooling system, without any need for an auxiliary heater (even during our coldest winters). For those seriously considering moving to a net-zero home, or going off-grid, geothermal is an important step. Geothermal is equally as effective at lowering energy costs in an urban or suburban environment. Contact us for a free site inspection and get a better idea of what geothermal can do for you.
11. Build from scratch/Net Zero Home
For many people, a net-zero home conjures up images of the Jetsons. But supplying energy for your own home is no longer confined to the future. All you have to do is check out Casa Verde to see how easy net-zero living can be. If you’re thinking of building a net-zero home, or cutting the cord and going off grid, drop by and chat. We’d love to share everything we’ve learned with Casa Verde.
12. Explore wind energy
The only element Lethbridge gets more than sun? Wind. The only reason this isn’t tip number one is that residential wind development is still in its early stages and that means high costs that often won’t be recouped. That being said, if you’ve decided to cut the cord, a properly researched wind generator is the perfect match to a good solar energy system, as windy days and cloudy days often go hand in hand.
Bonus #13 – Tell your friends
The biggest hurdle to green energy is how entrenched the old ways of doing things are. Green energy makes sense both fiscally and environmentally, but the world is slow to change. So perhaps the most powerful thing you can do is to start talking about it and talking about the steps you’ve made to lighten your ecological footprint.
Green energy is the future – we truly believe that. After all, the choice is tearing up the earth, retrieving and refining petrochemicals and shipping them all over the world, or using the energy already available in our immediate vicinity. It’s obvious to see what the best choice is. All we have to do is make the change.
Still not sure where to start? Contact us for an energy efficiency orientation today!