BC gets approximately 90% of its electricity from hydroelectric generating systems. Although hydroelectricity is considered to be a clean form of energy as there is no greenhouse gas emissions associated with the actual generation of energy, it is still important to practice energy conservation behaviour.
If our electricity is clean, why should we reduce our consumption?
BC Hydro predicts that energy demand will increase by 40% over the next 20 years. One way to accommodate this increase is to build more hydroelectric dams. However, building the dams not only results in habitat degradation and loss, but emissions are released from the dam construction. Furthermore, research indicates that the reservoirs adjacent to the hydro dams can also be a source of greenhouse gases. By reducing our energy consumption, demand will decrease and relieve the pressure of creating additional hydro energy projects.
How does hydroelectricity work?
Ever wondered how exactly hydroelectricity works and how power gets to your home or office? Check out the journey of your electricity here.
Simple Energy Conservation Tips for the Office and Household
- Try using the natural light rather than turning on overhead lighting – if that’s not bright enough for you, use task lighting (like a small desk lamp)
- Turn off all unnecessary lighting and remember to turn all lights off when leaving the room
- Almost 96% of the energy that drives an incandescent lightbulb goes to producing heat instead of light. So why not switch to the more efficient fluorescent bulbs? They generate less heat which allows them to produce 4 times more light per unit of energy and last 10 times longer.
- Standby power can account for 10% of an average household’s annual electricity use. So be sure to unplug chargers, TV’s, audio and video equipment to cut standby electricity use. Bonus: this can save you up to $50 a year on your electrical bill!
- Always turn off your computer before leaving your office for the night and make sure you switch off the monitor too!
- Many homes have their hot water heaters set too high. For every 6oC you turn it down (no lower than 55oC) you can save up to 5% in electricity costs
- By lowering your electric heat thermostat by 2oC you can save 5% on your heating bill. Turn it down another 5oC at night and you can save an additional 10%
- Try adding a dry towel to your dryer load, it reduces drying times and can save you up to $27 a year
- Hang dry fast drying items like blouses, exercise clothing and pants
- If you wash your laundry in cold water you can save up to $27 a year (averaging 3 loads a week) in electricity costs.
- Have a second fridge? Unplug it and save up to $90 a year. If you ever need to cool drinks or snacks for a party or event try freezing plastic jugs of water and place them in a cooler when needed.
- Skip the heat-dry setting on your dishwasher. By doing so, you can save up to $37 a year (based on one load of dishes per day)
- Mix up your cooking and try using the microwave, crockpot or toaster oven. These appliances are more efficient than the oven, won’t heat up your house while in use and will save you money on your energy bill in the long run.
- When you’re using the stove, always match your pan size to the size of the element you are using. A small pot on a large element means the part of the burner that is not being used is just wasting heat.
World Water Week
Did you know that the average Canadian consumes almost 6400 litres of water every day? Most of this water is not directly used by the individual, but rather, is embedded in the growing and processing of your food and the manufacturing of the clothing and products that you use every day. To see how the numbers break down, check out this infographic.
In celebration of Canada Water Week, March 21st – 27th, why not try out some of these water conservation tips and see how easy it is to reduce your water consumption at home. Better yet, incorporate them into your daily life and practice water conservation year round!
- Keep a jug of drinking water in your fridge
Avoid running your taps and waiting for the water to get nice and cold. Instead, fill a jug of water and keep it in the fridge to have cold drinking water on hand whenever you need it!
- Capture water from kitchen use to use in your garden
Are you running the tap to washing dishes or clean vegetables and fruits? Make sure you capture that running water (and any leftover waste water) in a basin or watering can to use in the garden.
- Turn the tap off when you brush your teeth
Turning the water off while you brush can save up to 10 litres of water each time!
- Be water smart in the garden
If you have to use a sprinkler to water your yard, place an empty tuna can on the ground, when it is full of water, turn off the water. To conserve even more water, consider installing a rainwater collection system or install a drip irrigation system so that water only goes to the areas that need it (hand watering can also achieve this).
- Install a high-efficiency toilet
Did you know that, effective October 3, 2011, new buildings in BC are required to install 4.8 litre or less high-efficiency toilets? It’s easy to see why, when 24% of household water is used by the toilet! When you switch to a high-efficiency toilet your household can save more than 30,000 litres of water a year.
- Install a low-flow shower head
Reducing the water you use in the shower not only saves water, but also saves you money on your energy bills! Older shower heads can use up to 20 litres of water per minute, while low flow versions use 5.6-9.5 litres per minute. A family of four can save up to 160,000+ litres of water a year if they make the switch to a low flow option, which equals more than $120 in savings per year.
- Only run your laundry machine when it is full
Old washing machines can use up to 200 litres of water per load, while high efficiency machines use about half of that. Whatever type of machine you are using; make sure you only run a load when the machine is full.
- Fix any leaks
10,000 litres of water can be wasted when a pipe, toilet or appliance in your home has a leak of one drop of water per second. Learn how you can find and fix leaks in your home here.
- For more easy water conservation tips, check out the CRD’s water conservation page.
Camosun College is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
AASHE provides numerous resources, including a weekly bulletin of sustainability-related news in higher education. Camosun campus community members can use their "@camosun.bc.ca" email address to log in to AASHE's member-only resources.