“The number one thing Canadians can do to help fight climate change is to reduce their use of fossil fuels in general,” says Derek May, senior project manager with Pollution Probe, a Canadian charitable environmental organization. That means shifting to electricity wherever possible (especially at home), including vehicles, hot water heaters, furnaces and stoves.
Where this isn’t feasible, he advises walking, cycling or using public transit and engaging in vehicle right-sizing by purchasing “the smallest, most fuel-efficient vehicle to meet your household’s needs.” When a larger vehicle is needed, consider a rental. (Talk to an AMA travel counsellor about member-exclusive offers on car rentals.)
“Electric vehicles (EVs) cost more upfront, but you can recoup those costs every year” May says. If you drive 20,000 km/year, for example, fuel savings could add up to $1,500 per year with an EV. The federal government also offers a rebate of up to $5,000 for some EVs.
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Using energy-efficient appliances and technologies can also make a difference. Here are three ways to boost the green factor at home:
Through the use of sensors and Wi-Fi, smart thermostats allow you to control heating and cooling remotely via a smartphone or laptop. May says, “It’s a great home efficiency measure that doesn’t cost a lot and can pay for itself over time!’
ON-DEMAND HOT WATER
This provides hot water as needed, without using a storage tank (an Energy Star-certified tankless water heater typically uses 30 per cent less energy). But it does have a higher upfront cost and could require a plumbing retrofit.
Wastewater from sinks, showers and washing machines can be treated filtered and reused. Options cover a range of features and price points, from greywater diversion devices to pumped systems and packaged systems.