Cold weather climates such as Canada have certain electricity demands that some other places don’t require. Heating and cooling, but especially heating, is by far the largest % usage in Canadian households, followed by a traditional water heater, lighting, and appliances. So now that we are in the ‘Electricity’ challenge it is even more important that we focus our decisions on energy efficiency.
So, first up is heating and cooling. Check. We just upgraded our heat pump during the heating and cooling challenge, so it is a high-efficiency, cold-climate, heat pump that uses much less electricity than our previous model AND doesn’t require a fossil gas furnace backup.
Next is a traditional hot water tank. Check – sort of. We replaced our aging gas-fueled hot water tank with an electric heat-pump hot water tank. This means that we will actually use more electricity for this appliance, so in direct opposition to the theme of this challenge. However, electricity production in our province is actually on the cleaner side—we don’t use fossil fuels in Ontario the same way as in other places. Because it uses heat pump technology it is a far lower electricity draw than a traditional electric hot water tank.
OK, how about lighting? Check. Every single bulb in light fixtures or lamps throughout our home is an LED bulb. The challenge with this electricity use item isn’t how efficient they are, it’s how often they are on. Despite the incredible energy efficiency of LED bulbs, lighting can still account for a fair amount of a household’s electricity use simply due to the lights being used so often. The key here is turning them off properly. We do our best but in a household with 3 kids it is an ongoing struggle. We’ll be focussed on behaviour modification in this area to reduce our consumption—turn the lights off!
And then what many people think of for electricity use: appliances. This is where we are going to really work to make gains. If you eliminate refrigerators from the list, simply because they are required to be on at all times, then your laundry appliances are the next largest consumer. We are aware that hanging clothes isn’t always possible in our climate, so it is fairly necessary to have a clothes dryer. We’ve researched the most energy-efficient clothes dryers and have learned that heat pump technology exists for this appliance too! However, in an effort not to just constantly throw money at the problems we have chosen to use this challenge period to find the best choice for our home without rushing into it. In the meantime we are committed to not using our clothes dryer at all. It might take some creativity in scheduling laundry—we have 5 people and general household laundry as well—so that there is access to the drying racks and indoor clothes lines we’ve put in place, but that’s ok; nobody said that combatting climate change would be easy!