Energy

Are Your Light Bulbs A Bright Idea?

Lighting in our homes counts for 1/4 of our energy bills. The type of light bulb we use at home can play a big role in just how much- or how little- we pay each month. So what kind do you use? What kind should you use? And what is the difference between them all? Continue reading

Climate Change Action of the Month: Hamilton Conservation Authority and E-Waste

This year the Hamilton Conservation Authority held an e-waste recycling day that yielded 850lbs of electronics that could then be recycled sustainably. Think about all the waste that this one event diverted from the landfill!

What is E-Waste?

In simple terms e-waste is short for electronic waste and includes everything that has ever run on batteries or a plug – including the batteries and plugs themselves! E-waste is a fairly new environmental issue compared to some since the technologies are new themselves. One thing is for certain, every year we produce more and more e-waste as many aspects of our lives are digitized. Continue reading

Power all with the Powerwall!

If you haven’t heard of the new Tesla battery, you may be living under a rock. Tesla’s new battery is the talk of the town and it’s everywhere in the media. Why? It aims to take homes and businesses off the grid. Continue reading

Weathering the Storm: How to be Prepared for an Emergency

With the increase in severe weather and storms, it’s important to have a plan for what you will do to prepare for and respond to climate related emergencies. If individuals and families take the time to plan and prepare for potential emergencies in their communities, it helps responding agencies address the crisis much more effectively.

Before the Emergency: Know the Risks

Across Canada, we face a number of natural hazards, which can vary from region to region. Knowing what to do is an important part of being prepared. Find out about risks in your region and how to prepare for different situations here.

During the Emergency: Have a Plan

By definition, emergencies happen when we don’t expect them, and often when families are not together. Suddenly, you need to think about your kids at school or elderly parents across town. If phones don’t work, or some neighbourhoods aren’t accessible, what will you do?

Having a family emergency plan will save time and make real situations less stressful.

It will take you about 20 minutes to make a family emergency plan online. You can then print it out. Before starting, consider the following:

  • Safe exits from the home and neighbourhood
  • A meeting place near your home for your family
  • A designated person to pick up children from school or daycare should you be unavailable
  • Out of town contact person(s)
  • Special health needs
  • Location of fire extinguisher, water valve, electrical box, gas valve and floor drain

You can create your own plan online right now here

The Government of Canada has guides for creating Emergency Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities/Special Needs which can be found here.

Have pets or a service animal? There’s a guide for that too!

Have a Kit

In an emergency, you will need some basic supplies. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.

You may have some of the items already, such as food, water and a battery operated or wind-up flashlight. The key is to make sure they are organized and easy to find. Would you be able to find your flashlight in the dark? Make sure your kit is easy to carry and everyone in the household knows where it is. Keep it in a backpack, duffle bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front-hall closet. If you have many people in your household, your emergency kit could get heavy.

It’s a good idea to separate some of these supplies in backpacks. That way, your kit will be more portable and each person can personalize his or her own grab-and-go emergency kit.

Creating a 72-hr Emergency Preparedness Kit

For a basic kit you will need:

  • Food that won’t spoil
  • Cash
  • Manual can opener
  • Water – at least 2 litres per person per day
  • Extra keys to your car and house
  • Wind-up or battery powered flashlight (and
    extra batteries)
  • Wind-up or battery powered radio (and
    extra batteries)
  • A copy of your emergency plan and contact
    information

Check your kit once a year and re-stock as needed.

Recommended additional items:

  • Basic tools
  • Whistle
  • Duct tape
  • Toiletries, toilet paper, hand sanitizer
  • Utensils
  • Garbage bags
  • Blankets and extra clothing
  • Bleach or water purification tablets
  • Candles and matches (do not burn unattended)
  • Two more litres of water per person per day
    for cooking and cleaning
  • Small fuel operated camp stove and fuel
    (follow manufacturer’s instructions)

Car and Pet Emergency Kits

Car Kit:

  • Food and Water
  • Blanket
  • Extra clothing and shoes
  • First aid kit
  • Warning light or flares
  • Shovel and scraper
  • Contact numbers
  • Sand, salt or cat litter
  • Antifreeze
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Road maps
  • Whistle
  • Flashlight and batteries
Pet Kit:

  • Food and bowls
  • Can opener
  • Water
  • Blanket
  • Toys
  • Current pet photos
  • Litter pan, bags and scoop
  • Medications and medical records
  • Leashes, harness or carrier
  • Information on feeding schedules and
    behaviour
  • List of boarding facilities and
    pet-friendly hotels

In the event of a threatening, imminent or actual emergency situation, the City of Hamilton will provide information and updates to the public through radio, TV and newspaper, find a list here 

Save on Energy this Holiday Season

The holiday season is usually a big time for energy use, but it doesn’t have t0 be that way. Here are some tips to save energy this year.

Christmas Lights

LED Christmas lights are very efficient using only about 1/10th the energy of incandescent lights. If you only put up a couple of strands, it’s not very likely that you are going to see a big difference on your electric bill but if your home could compete with Clark Griswold, you may want to think about switching to the LED option.

While LED Christmas lights are more costly up front, they may actually end up saving you money in the long run through lower energy costs and longer lifespan. Another bonus, if one of your LED bulbs burns out, the whole string won’t turn off.

If you decorate your home with bulbs that can be used indoors or outdoors, condense your working incandescent lights to the interior. 90% of the electricity going to an incandescent bulb comes out as heat instead of light so you can lower your thermostat a bit.

Around the Home

Bulb selection is only one factor in holiday lighting. You can also reduce your electricity use by ensuring that lighting is not left on when no one is there to enjoy it and that it doesn’t remain on all night. One way to accomplish this is by putting your lights on a programmable timer.

If there’s a fire burning in the fireplace, lower the thermostat to conserve energy (and save on your heating bill). You definitely can lower the temperature if you’re throwing a party — the body heat will more than make up for it. As a matter of fact, try to keep your thermostat at 20 degrees Celsius throughout the winter; you will see a huge difference in your energy bill.

Cook smart – When cooking on the stove top, you should always use the right-sized pan and ring for each job and keep the lids on your pans as much as possible to reduce heat loss. And when using the oven, keep the door shut as much as you can. Other ways to save energy in the kitchen include defrosting food overnight rather than microwaving it and ensuring warm foods cool down before placing them in the fridge.

Gifts

Buy Gifts that Don’t Use Electricity or Batteries – 40% off all batteries are purchased during the holiday season. That’s a lot of money spent on batteries and a lot of energy used! If you are buying gifts that need batteries, invest in rechargeable batteries and a charger, recent advancements have made rechargeable batteries better than ever.

Buy locally – Buying food and goods locally is the best way to reduce energy use.

Transportation

Plan your shopping trips carefully – Make one trip to the mall instead of three, which will save gas. Walking to stores or carpooling with friends is even better. Another way to reduce fuel consumption is to buy locally; shopping in your home town supports the local merchants and strengthens the community, and it cuts fuel use if you walk to town.

Climate Change Action of the Month: The Green Cottage

Start Climate Change awareness at the home! That is what the Green Cottage in Hamilton has done, this house has many ecofriendly features, which helps eliminate its lasting effects on the climate. The house, located in the north end of Hamilton by the harbour, was originally built in 1885 with many similar houses surrounding it, but since then it has had some major renovations, and although the house does not look much different than the ones surrounding it the Green Cottage is unlike any home in Hamilton.

The Green Cottage

The Green Cottage

Starting on the outside the house is trimmed with salvaged wood, reclaimed wood helps eliminate the process of manufacturing and saves a few trees from being cut down in the process. The house is also insulated on the outside, this is called Exsulation, which provides more thermal heating for the house, eliminating most of the use of furnaces. The roof is also adorned with many solar panels and solar water heaters. Up to 30% of new greenhouse gases around the globe are contributed by non-renewable energy, and using solar energy as an alternative helps to decrease that number and the impacts of climate change.

On the inside the house is NOT equipped with a clothing dryer, air conditioner, stove, refrigerator or microwave! With the house lacking these amenities they are not sucking out energy for appliances that are not essential for everyday needs. The Green Cottage has significantly reduced its energy use, and has set a very high standard for energy conservation.

The house is also surround by a vigorous and beautiful garden. The garden creates green space in a mostly asphalt ridden area, and the plants not only look great but they are absorbing carbon dioxide and eliminating that from out atmosphere. The Green Cottage has gone above and beyond to eliminate their negative effects on climate change and the environment in general. This house is not only proof that you can take an old home and make environmental improvements, but it also demonstrates the many changes you can make a home level.

Written by: Brittney Massey

Climate Change Action of the Month: Smart Commute Hamilton

One of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases are car emissions so it doesn’t take Einstein to realize that eliminating car emissions would have a significant affect on climate change. A few commercial buildings within Hamilton have begun to include secure bike parking on their premises to help promote alternative, and in this case active, transportation. Within five years of the Smart Commute Hamilton program starting up, over 24,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions have been prevented from entering into the atmosphere.

The secure bike parking allows Hamiltonians to bike rather than drive and have a safe place they can store their bikes while at work or play. Here are just some of the locations you can find secure bike parking in Hamilton:

One of the many secure bike parking facilities in Hamilton

One of the many secure bike parking facilities in Hamilton

  • St. Joes Hospital
  • Hamilton General
  • Mohawk College
  • The Convention Centre
  • York Parkdale
  • Horizon Utility Office
  • Jackson Square AND OVER 50 MORE!

Secure bike parking gives you piece of mind after locking up your bike, offering superior protection on your bike over the conventional rack. How you ask? Secure bike parking is located within limited access facilities and can only be reached by secure bike members who have been granted access. The bikes are then hung vertically and with one U-lock you are able to lock up both tires and your bike frame. The facilities are monitored by security dramatically decreasing your risk of theft or damage to your bike.

With the development of secure bike parking, commuters are encouraged to ditch their cars and grab their bikes. Biking is a healthy and environmentally-friendly alternative to driving your car. Now you can do your part and bike to work, a friends, or the store, reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions you contribute to the atmosphere, and have peace of mind.

Written By: Brittney Massey

Community CarShare comes to the East End!

Green Venture has decided to do the green thing and trade in our two company vehicles for a Community CarShare membership. Community CarShare is a local non-profit co-operative organization. They were the first car sharing organization within Ontario starting in 1998 and have been a part of the Hamilton community since 2009.

How does it work?

The Community CarShare program is really simple. First, you sign up for a membership plan that is based on your needs. Once you are signed up and have received a safe driving orientation you are able to book any of the 53 CarShare vehicles (with 13 in Hamilton), and you are able to book up to 30 minutes in advance. The car is then charged on a pay-per-use basis. You are able to pick the type of car you need and then head to the closest available location to pick up your car, it’s as simple as that. You don’t even have to pay for gas, maintenance, or insurance, they are all included in your membership fee.

We used our Community CarShare membership to book the Toyota Tacoma to help us get everything for our booth from the EcoHouse to the Open Streets festival in Hamilton.

We used our Community CarShare membership to book the Toyota Tacoma to help us get everything for our booth from the EcoHouse to the Open Streets festival in Hamilton.

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Our helper with the CarShare!

There are many benefits for anyone to change from using a personal vehicle to joining the Community CarShare. Some of the benefits are,

  • Financial: For a newer vehicle you will be cutting out those hefty monthly payments, or for an older car the growing maintenance costs. You do not pay for gas, which is constantly increasing, or insurance, as this is included in the membership fee. Additionally you are not paying for a place to park your car, and if you have an extra par
    king space you can potentially rent it out and make a profit! At Green Venture we did the math and we will be saving over $5000.00 dollars a year by switching to CarShare!
  • Social: You are contributing to a local co-operative organization within your community. You are also avoiding the stress of managing and maintaining a vehicle and lastly Community CarShare has made picking up and booking a car convenient and hassle free.
  • Environmental: By ditching your ride and joining CarShare you are diminishing the amount of cars on the road. This helps reduce CO2 emissions, while also reducing the amount of traffic and consequently the amount of idling on the streets, bettering our air quality within the city. Lastly if you do not have your own vehicle for transportation traveling becomes more of a conscious decision. This allows people to become more aware of their transportation choices and consider more environmentally friendly decisions such as CarShare, biking or walking.
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The Toyota Prius PHV plugged-in and recharging its batteries.

Green Venture is taking the environmental benefits one step further by introducing an electric vehicle into the Community CarShare organization. At Green Venture’s office building, called the EcoHouse, we have an Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station, which was donated by EATON. The EV charging station is a place for plug-in cars to recharge and collect electric energy for their vehicles. The EV charging station will soon be the new location for the Toyota Prius Hybrid Plug-in (or Prius PHV), for Community CarShare. This hybrid utilises rechargeable batteries while in all-electric running mode, that only take two to three hours to charge and the vehicle can maintain high speeds and last a long distance. When using the Prius PHV compared to other gas guzzling cars of the same size you will be reducing your fuel consumption by 1650 litres and even better lowering your CO2 emissions by nearly 4000 kg per year! By Green Venture using not only CarShare but an electric vehicle we will be significantly reducing our carbon footprint and continuing our goal to live more sustainably.

Written by: Brittney Massey

Eco-Friendly Laundry

 

Just a little while ago we had the exciting opportunity to teach a group of adults about reducing water waste at home. Some of our tips included things like fixing leaks promptly, reducing time in the shower, and using tools like a toilet dam to reduce the water waste. We’ll be posting an article about all of that sometime soon, but the things we are the most eager to share are the ways you can reduce water and energy waste while doing laundry.

 

We all love our laundry machines. That wonderful electricity-powered invention from the 20th century saves us from the arduous task of hand-washing our clothes. Like many things though, our washing machines can create a lot of waste if not used correctly. If you’re buying new appliances, make sure you are getting energy-efficient ones. Whether you have energy-efficient appliances or not, you can still use these tips, and tricks to help you reduce waste and keep the environment as clean as your clothes.

 

Tip #1: Use Cold Water!

If you’re looking for a way to be more environmentally-friendly in your laundry room, the biggest thing you can do is switch to using cold water. Almost 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes goes to heating the water. While some people worry that washing in cold water will not remove the dirt from their clothes, most of us do not soil our clothes to a level that requires hot water to wash. Cold water laundry detergents have been formulated to get your clothes just as clean with cold water.

 

Tip #2: Ditch the Dryer

While dryers are convenient in their ability to have a load done in an hour, they hog a lot of energy and actually break down the fibers in your clothing. You can see how much damage it does every time you empty your lint filter, as that lint used to be a part of your clothing! There are many options for drying your clothing that is better for the environment, your energy bill, and your clothing. Indoor or outdoor clothing racks come in a variety of sizes and styles. The best indoor ones are collapsible, and sturdy enough to support the weight of wet clothes. While they may take up space in your living room, back yard, or balcony, they make up for by using free sun and air, rather than electricity.

 

Tip #3: Think Outside the Box

There are a lot of DIY options for laundry. One that we showcase at EcoHouse is the Laundry Pod, which is a small, hand-cranked laundry machine. It uses only 5 litres of water (compared to up to 125 litres for some washing machines!) and uses your arm-power for energy. While it probably isn’t the best choice for large families, it is a very handy tool for small loads or delicate pieces. Instead of running your washing machine with only a few t-shirts or pants in it, you can give this guy a try.

 

Another thing you can do is make your own powdered laundry soap. The recipe we have here costs about $0.09 per load, while other laundry detergents go for up to $0.59 per load. With ours we know exactly what goes into it, and we can customize the scent. Give it a try!

 

Home-Made Powder Laundry Detergent

Ingredients:

½ to 1 cup of shredded bar soap

1 cup Borax

1 cup washing soda

A few drops essential oils

Instructions:

Use a very fine grater to shave the bar of soap into small flakes. Mix well with Borax and washing soda until you achieve an even, fine mixture. Add essential oils and mix well. Store in a labeled, air-tight container. This recipe makes approximately 32 ounces of detergent; use one tablespoon (most loads) to two tablespoons (large or heavily soiled loads). Before adding the soap to your cold-water loads, mix the detergent in a container with some hot water until it dissolves.

 

Explanations:

Bar Soap is the most crucial ingredient, as soap gives the detergent its cleaning power. Several recommended brands to use include Kirk’s Castile and Dr. Bonners. Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a naturally occurring mineral that acts as a whitener and deodorizer. Washing soda should not be confused with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), as washing soda is sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash. It is available in the laundry section of the grocery store or in pure form from pool supply stores as sodium carbonate. It helps to remove dirt and odors, cuts grease, and removes stains, disinfects, and softens water. You can also add some of your favorite oil essence to give a nice fragrance to your detergent. Recommended amounts are one to two drops per load. Tea tree oil has the added benefit of acting as a disinfectant, so it’s great for washing cloth diapers, hand towels or linens from a sick family member. Eucalyptus is great for preventing dust mites. Lavender smells wonderful, and is very relaxing.

 

The next time you go to run a load in one of our favourite labour-saving devices, try one of these things to green your cleaning machine!

 

Written By Victoria Bick

October is Climate Change Action Month!

Hamilton’s 5th Annual Climate Change Action Month is here October 1-31, 2013. There will be lots going on this month to get involved with and to highlight the activities in the community that are addressing climate change. We hope you can get involved!

How can you get involved in Climate Change Action Month?

Take the Challenge

Take Green Venture’s Community Carbon Challenge from September 30th to October 11th for your chance to win a $200 gift card to Mountain Equipment Coop and other great prizes. The Community Carbon Challenge is a fun and interactive way to explore ways you can reduce your carbon footprint over the span of two weeks. For the next two weeks they’ll challenge you with different ways you can live more sustainably in everyday life and reduce your carbon emissions. You can explore different ways to reduce your carbon footprint (and save some cash) during the challenge and even after. For more information about the challenge, visit www.climatechangehamilton.ca/community-carbon-challenge.

To participate in the Community Carbon Challenge, you just have to follow these 3 easy steps:

1. Register for the Community Carbon Challenge here

2. Follow Green Venture on Facebook or Twitter (@Green_Venture) for daily challenges from Monday, September 30th to Friday, October 11th. No challenges will be posted over the weekend but that doesn’t mean it’s time for you to quit, it’s time for you to get creative! Additional points will be given to any participant who submits an action that reduces their carbon emissions over the weekend (October 5th and October 6th).

3. Take a picture of you completing the challenges each day and send it to us on Facebook or Twitter

It’s that easy! You can keep sending us pictures of completed challenges until October 18th. Green Venture will announce the 3 winners on Facebook and Twitter, and contact winners by Friday, October 18th.

Tell Us about What Action You’re Taking

Are you already taking action on climate change at home? At work? At school?

Take a picture of it and help us put it on the Hamilton Climate Change Map to show and share what you and others are doing in Hamilton. This map will be used in the Annual Climate Change Report on the progress of addressing climate change and meeting emissions targets in Hamilton to the City’s Board of Health on October 21st

For more information on Climate Change Action Month, the Community Carbon Challenge, Climate Change Map or various events happening throughout the City during Climate Change Action Month please contact Deirdre Connell at 905-540-8787 ext 113 or by email at deirdre.connell@greenventure.ca.