Energy

New incentives from Ontario government for home energy audits

The Ontario government will be augmenting the existing home renovation rebate incentives already available through Union Gas and Enbridge Gas, and making retrofit rebates available across the province for the first time since 2012. This program “assist” by the Ontario Green Investment Fund will increase drastically the value of doing energy-saving home renos.

Homeowners who get a “before” and an “after” energy audit, and do at least two items from the approved list, can get up to $5000 back in incentives, including most of the cost of the audits themselves.  Full list of eligible measure can be found at UnionGas.com/HomeReno Continue reading

Meet the EcoStar Summer Camp Staff

Green Venture is getting ready for their first EcoStar camp! With topics like Bugs & Blooms, H2Whoa that’s a lot of Water, and EcoExplorers, campers are sure to learn new skills and an appreciation for the environment around them.  As camp director I’m excited to introduce our two camp counsellors Bright Eyes and Dandy.

Continue reading

R.A. Riddell School is going on a Green Venture

May 19, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

R.A. RIDDELL ELEMENTARY IS GOING ON A GREEN VENTURE

HAMILTON, ON – DEPAVE PARADISE (www.depaveparadise.ca) projects engage volunteers and neighbourhoods in communities across Canada, removing pavement and planting gardens filled with native species in its place. On May 28th and June 4th, Green Venture, R.A. Riddell Elementary School, partners and local residents will be hosting Hamilton’s 3rd Depave Paradise event to transform part of the school’s asphalt playground into a beautiful garden for the community to enjoy. Continue reading

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