Learn more about Project Neutral and Reep

Project Neutral is known for its community-focused, carbon benchmarking and climate action tool. Project Neutral allows anyone to find out their carbon footprint in 5 minutes, based on real local data.

Diving into Waste 101

Date: | Thursday, December 13

Time | 5:30pm – 7:00pm

 

Note: This is an interactive event and you will need a phone/tablet/computer to participate!

Alicia Parkin, Customer Engagement and Outreach Coordinator, Reep Green Solutions

 

Alicia is passionate about teaching people how to find their carbon footprint, and what their next steps are for living a sustainable life. She is the In-Home Services & Customer Engagement Coordinator at Reep Green Solutions. One of her lead roles at Reep is to help launch the Project Neutral tool into the Waterloo Region and find like-minded community members to help connect others with this tool. Alicia has a Bachelor’s degree from Carleton University in Environmental Studies and a minor in Political Science.

 

Transportation

We encourage the use of active transportation such as walking or biking. The house is just off the Iron Horse Trail. It is also easily accessible by GRT bus routes that use Queen and have stops near Mill St. If you drive, please consider carpooling with others you know are attending.

Parking

You are welcome to use Schneider Ave or David Street parking. The Victoria Park Pavilion parking lot is also free to use and only a few minutes walk to the Reep House. Please do not park at the Schneider Haus or Mitchell St lots (click to enlarge map)

It all started when my husband borrowed a portable induction cooker to try out in our kitchen. I admit, the explanation of how it works seemed more like voodoo magic to me than science, and I was skeptical about its ability to make much of a dent in our energy usage. But only a few months later, we had replaced our coil cooktop with an induction cooktop and I am never going back. Which leads me to my list of the reasons why induction is better than anything else out there:

  1. Induction uses significantly less energy to heat your food.

Induction cookers use an electromagnet to induce a small current and magnetic flux in the pot causing it to heat up1,2. The pot then transfers the heat to the food. With coil cooktops, the coil acts a resistor, heating up as electricity passes through it. The coil then heats the pot, which heats the food. With ceramic cooktops, the coil sits below a ceramic surface. The coil radiates heat through the ceramic and into the pot, which heats the food. Induction is more direct and therefore less energy is wasted. My son, as part of a science fair experiment, made some energy measurements that suggest that induction is 20-30% more energy efficient than coil or ceramic cooktops.

  1. Induction heats things faster.

Much faster. In his experiment, my son also tested the time it took to boil IL of water at the highest power settings on several cooktops. The ceramic cooktop came in at 9 minutes, the coil cooktop at 6.5 minutes and the induction cooktop at an astonishing 3 minutes. I am all for faster cooking times!

  1. The pot heats up or cools down immediately.

It is very similar to the effect of turning up or down the gas on a gas stove. However, induction does not produce the carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other indoor air pollutants that are produced from gas stoves. Nor are there open flames to worry about.

  1. You will never need a double broiler again.

You can melt your chocolate directly in a pot without worrying about it scorching or going grainy. The ultra-low settings are also useful for keeping food warm.

  1. Induction cooktops are very easy to clean, with a smooth glassy surface similar to those of ceramic cooktops.

Furthermore, they never get as hot as the ceramic cooktops so you can wipe the surface right after your pasta has boiled over. And your pasta will probably boil over because induction heats things faster than you expect (see #2 above)!

By now you are probably wondering: Why everyone isn’t using induction cooktops? The big drawback is the price. Induction cooktops are more expensive than other options, although the price is coming down. Also not all cookware works with induction. Only pots and pans with iron or stainless steel bases will work – if your fridge magnet sticks to the base of your pot, it is good to go. But with homes and restaurants in Asia and Europe jumping on the bandwagon, isn’t it time we thought about it too?

 

By: Heather McDiarmid

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induction_cooking accessed Dec 8, 2017.
  2. http://www.green-energy-efficient-homes.com/energy-saving-induction-cooking.html accessed Dec 8, 2017.
  3. Ian Praetzel, personal communications.
  4. Nicole W. 2014. Cooking up indoor air pollution: emissions from natural gas stoves. Environ Health Perspect 122:A27; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.122-A27

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Home Energy COACH

Before you know it the snow will be falling. Is your home ready for the harsh winter to come? Learn about your options for renovation to make your home more comfortable this winter. There is still time before the snow flies to take care of items that can make your rooms more cozy – get some ideas of what works and what the most cost-effective methods for your home are.

Agenda

Presentation: 1:30 p.m.
Q&A: 2:15 p.m.
Reep Open House: 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Home Energy Coach

Presenter: Phillip Drader, Registered Energy Advisor

Philip Drader is Reep’s Energy Coach and has conducted workshops for homeowners on a wide range of topics to help them make their home more energy efficient, and steering them towards good products and companies.

 

Registration

Transportation

We encourage the use of active transportation such as walking or biking. The house is just off the Iron Horse Trail. It is also easily accessible by GRT bus routes that use Queen and have stops near Mill St. If you drive, please consider carpooling with others you know are attending.

You are welcome to use Schneider Ave or David Street parking. The Victoria Park Pavilion parking lot is also free to use and only a few minutes walk to the Reep House. Please do not park at the Schneider Haus or Mitchell St lots (click to enlarge map)

REEP HouseThis Sustainable House is a monthly series of events that showcases the technology and displays at the REEP House for Sustainable Living and uses them as a jumping off point to explore other ideas and options to make your home more sustainable.

THIS SUSTAINABLE HOUSE

ELECTRICAL CONSERVATION FEATURES

A look at how you can reduce your electricity use at home by taking a closer look at the green features and displays at the REEP House for Sustainable Living such as our remote vacancy sensors and dimmer, whole home off switch, our cutting edge refrigerator, energy efficient lighting and appliances, ceiling fans and how our ground source heat pump cools air in the summer.

Your sustainable home guide is Brendan Schaefer.

Energy Efficient LightsMay 28

REEP House for Sustainable Living, 20 Mill St., Kitchener
AGENDA
  • Doors Open 1:00 p.m.
  • Presentation / Tour: 1:30 p.m.
  • Open House 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Advance registration below is appreciated.

Brendan SchaeferBrendan Schaefer is the Facilities Manager at the REEP House for Sustainable Living, where he regularly leads tours and workshops on topics ranging from energy efficiency to water conservation, storm water management, and sustainable living. He has conducted nurmerous Home Assistance Program audits to advise homeowners on how to reduce their electrical use.

 

This is Lesson 12 of our informal online course: Home Energy 101All lessons by Philip Drader, Home Energy Coach.

There are three main resources we use whose consumption is fairly regular: electricity, natural gas, and water.

By changing the way we do things, we can take an active role in caring for our planet while also saving money. That means thinking about how we can live sustainably in our day to day life. Changing our habits can make a significant impact on how efficiently energy is used in our homes.

The best part is that developing new habits helps you save energy without spending a cent!

But there are also some relatively inexpensive devices that can change our habits. For example, the sleep setting on your computer automatically helps reduce its energy use without actively doing anything before you step away from it for a short while.

Here are some tips on how you can take an active role in reducing your energy use that we haven’t covered in other lessons.

What you can do to save electricity

  1. Energy Efficient LightsTurn lights off when you aren’t in the room. Or you could partially replace this habit by installing a motion sensor controlling certain lights but not all of them. If you use lights on the exterior of the home, consider using a timer or reducing the wattage of the lights.
  2. Exploit the simple elegance of free wind and sunshine. Hang your clothes to dry on a line outside instead of using your dryer.
  3. Use smart power bars to control electronics to avoid phantom loads caused by electronics that use electricity even when they are turned off.
  4. Use your oven less and use your microwave or plug-in kettle. A microwave is more effective at getting the energy into food, with less warming up of the air around it, and a plug-in kettle likewise.

An extra step you can take for bonus points is filling your cup with water first before putting it into the kettle to heat up just the amount of water you are going to use.

  1. Avoid the need for air conditioning by cooking outside in the summer.
  2. Avoid leaving doors or windows open in the summer when the air conditioner is on.
  3. Take up meditation and don’t do anything for a month. I’m joking. There are a lot of lifestyle suggestions we could make, but we’ve picked those we think won’t impact the way you enjoy life.

Find more tips in Lesson 10 about lights, appliances and air conditioning.

How to save natural gas

  1. Programmable ThermostatDon’t leave your door open in the wintertime. Unless you have small children, it should only take a couple of seconds to open the door, get in or out, and close the door again.
  2. If you feel the house is stuffy and needs to be ‘aired out’, run a bathroom exhaust fan instead of opening a window
  3. Assuming you have a natural gas water heater, take showers over baths, and use a timer to help you keep track of time in the shower.
  4. Program your thermostat to drop a degree or two at night-time.
  5. Some people wear sweaters and even toques inside to lower their thermostat and save energy.

Several other lessons share advice on how to reduce your use of natural gas to heat your home.

How to save water

  1. shower head in use 1208075186_6a26118c90Shower instead of taking a bath and put a timer in the shower to help you keep track of how long you’ve been in it.
  2. Consider showering only when you need to not just because you are used to doing so every day.
  3. Brush your teeth with the water off. Anything else is pure waste.
  4. When rinsing dishes, don’t let the rinse water flow down the drain, catch it and use it if you can–perhaps to rinse other dishes?
  5. Don’t water your lawn. Let it grow naturally. If it suffers, try over seeding with a drought-tolerant grass mix.
  6. Instead of using a hose, wash cars with a bucket of soapy water or help keep the grime from reaching fresh water by going to a carwash.
  7. Clean driveways with a broom, not a hose.
  8. Getting a 3L/flush toilet is effective at saving water.

Find more tips in Lesson 8 about heating water.

Share ideas with your friends

These are some of the ways I can suggest to change your habits and conserve resources. You may think of other things you can do.

One of the most effective ways to learn how you can change your habits is by talking about what you’ve done with other people and asking if they have any habits or strategies that they use that you could imitate. By talking about it, you’ll discover a lot of like-minded people with creative ideas and enhance your knowledge on how to live sustainably.

feature photo credit: Stripes’ bathtime via photopin (license)

 

This is Lesson 10 of our informal online course: Home Energy 101All lessons by Philip Drader, Home Energy Coach.

Our focus in this post is on how we use electricity to see and in our labour saving appliances.

As a kid I was often afraid of things in the dark that I couldn’t see. Now that I’m an adult, I’m afraid of the electrical bill instead.

Lighting efficiency: an easy upgrade

Residential energy use in Canada by activity, 2010

Source: Energy Efficiency Trends in Canada 1990-2010, Natural Resources Canada.

Well, I’m just joking, but it’s not that far from the truth. I have LED (light emitting diodes) lights and CFL bulbs (compact fluorescent lights) installed in my house. And I know that they use 1/10th to 1/5th the power of incandescent lights while having the same light output.

And while lights aren’t a huge piece of the energy pie  at 4%, they are still a significant contributor and easy to do something about.

Replace light bulbs with LEDs

LEDs have been dropping in price year after year and are an investment that most people should be making. If you don’t want to change every bulb in your house immediately, that’s not a problem. Just buy a pack of LEDs and replace bulbs as they burn out with new energy efficient ones. This way you’ll naturally tend to get the bulbs that are used the most replaced with something that will get you the same amount of light, while costing ten times less for electricity.

Upgrade old appliances for Energy Star models

washing machine at REEP HouseUpgrading appliances can be more challenging due to the money required to make a change.

It’s fairly safe to say that if it’s older than 20 years old, replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR appliance is a good choice. It’s tougher to make the call when it’s between 10 and 20 years old but still working just fine. There is no hard and fast rule there, though you can look up its energy consumption online and see how much money you’ll save each year if you bought a new one. Here’s a chart that helps you determine how much it costs for the electricity they use.

On the other hand, you might be thinking that each year you delay means you can get a more energy efficient appliance than what may have been available just a year before. But that is a false argument if we’re talking about a 20 year old fridge because the annual improvement is not enough to justify waiting. Replace that old fridge now! But, don’t put your stove to the curb over this since there is not much to gain in energy efficiency when it comes to heating food. This technology simply hasn’t changed much.

Consider a home energy monitor

Often times we are unaware of the power that is used to keep us comfortable. A whole-house energy monitor is an excellent device that you can install that will show you how much energy you are currently using. Place the monitor in a convenient location so that you can be aware of how much energy your house is using on your behalf. You’ll become knowledgeable enough to know when something is still on that doesn’t need to be.

We love our air conditioning too much

The electrical load from air conditioning is fairly low overall, but collectively our energy use from air conditioning is increasing. To save on air conditioning, going to a higher efficiency unit is probably not going to provide enough of a payback to justify that upgrade. But if you are going to replace your air conditioning unit anyhow, you definitely want to select a high efficiency model.

There are things you can do, behaviour-wise that can make a big impact on your use of air conditioning. First, don’t run it when you are not home– set your thermostat to a higher temperature if you aren’t there. Second, turn it off and open the upstairs windows when it’s cool at nighttime to pre-cool your home. Ideally you’ll have windows on opposite sides of the house open so you can benefit from cross-ventilation, or if you have multiple levels, opening a window one or two floors up can provide a very nice airflow boost thanks to the buoyancy of hot air. If you are looking for a new slow cooker then check out who makes the best slow cooker.

If you have a ceiling fan, you will feel cooler when it’s running. But since it just moves air around, and doesn’t actually cool the house, turn it off when you aren’t in the room.

Things you can do to feel more comfortable when it’s hot in your home

  1. Wear less clothing, and light, free flowing fabrics that wick moisture are lovely – take those socks off.
  2. Move air around – open windows (if you don’t have the A/C on), or run fans to blow air over your skin.
  3. Don’t use incandescent lights, and turn lights off when possible.
  4. Try to cook less by eating more cold meals. If you are going to use the stove, use the rear burners and have your range hood fan on to move that heat out right away. Use the microwave more than the oven if possible.
  5. Shower with colder water, and make sure that the bathroom exhaust fan is on so you don’t end up steaming up the rest of the house when you get out.
  6. Make sure your dryer exhaust pipe is well sealed and no hot and humid air is escaping into your home.
  7. Exterior blinds for windows should be lowered if you have them, or internal shades drawn – preferably before you already have heat inside the house.

LEARN MORE

photo credit: Just looking via photopin (license)

2015 Homeowner Impact Award Winner

Here’s the story of one of the 2015 Celebrating Community Action award recipients. Learn about all nine recipients.

Most people know that buying an old house doesn’t come without future renovation cost. While some costs are not initially evident, a greater concern is how much those improvements will increase the efficiency of the home. This is the question that Jeff and Daria Casello were hoping to have answered for their recent purchase of a 1895 year old home in the Waterloo Region. The answer has them nominated for an award at this year’s Celebrating Community Action: Building Resilience event.

Unlike recent mass housing development, which seems to mirror replicas of each home built, more homeowners like Jeff and his wife are finding value in older homes. Historic homes provide a glimpse into the past and have “tremendous character” says Jeff. They are constructed using quality materials, not available today, and are built to last. Yet at the same time, the energy performance of older homes does not live up to the energy standards of today.

Jeff and Daria were well aware that their home was not “particularly energy efficient”. Dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint, the home owners “were eager to improve the performance of [their] home in as many ways as possible”. They called REEP Green Solutions to perform an EnerGuide Home Evaluation for their home.

Since purchasing their home, they knew that their furnace, which dated back to the early 20th century, would need to be a priority if they were to reduce their carbon footprint significantly. After becoming aware of the Union Gas Home Reno Rebate, the Casellos jumped at the chance to cut down on some of the renovation costs by participating in the Home Energy Evaluation program. With the help of REEP’s Certified Energy Advisor, the Casellos learned that their home improvements would result in the efficiency they were hoping for.

After receiving their evaluation report, the Casellos modernized their home, renovating their kitchen and family room by switching to storm windows and adding new insulation. Storm windows are a great option for preserving the architectural history of the home and maintaining the high-quality wooden frames. The home owners also gutted both of their washrooms, adding high R-value insulation and vapor barriers to reduce moisture build-up. To compliment these insulated rooms, the owners also installed in-floor electric heating which, when combined with effective insulation, reduces energy consumption. Targeting heat where it is needed will thereby reduce a home’s energy needs and increase the comfort levels of the washrooms.

New high efficiency boilerJeff and his wife upgraded to a combined gas boiler and hot water unit running at 95% efficiency levels. The Home Energy Evaluation also helped them identify a cold draft that continues to draw “the heat from the living areas to the attic”. They are considering using spray foam insulation where the joists of the basement ceiling hit the exterior wall to reduce thermal waste. Furthermore, they hope to refurbish their existing wooden windows by replacing the glass and adding quality storm windows.

One year after their renovations were completed, Jeff and his wife decreased their gas consumption by 20%. Their energy costs have decreased thanks to their lower gas consumption, and they now have fewer drafts and “less noise associated with heating”. They received a “substantial energy efficiency refund through the Union Gas program”, and have full confidence that the new boiler system “will last”.

Ron was tired of his lawn turning brown over the long hot summer. He solved his problem by harvesting rainwater in his 1700 gallon (6500 L) underground cistern. Rain travels through his downspouts into the cistern which pumps water into a irrigation system with the help of well pumps leesburg va. Not only does this afford him the freedom to water his lawn without worrying about municipal repstrictions, he also saves money. His water bill has lowered significantly since the system came online.

Ron has not needed to replace a single component of his system in seven years, and the savings combined with the maximum 45% stormwater credit he receives means that his system is paying for itself.
Irrigation system fed by an underground cistern.


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