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Amy Roesler on Why Energy Efficiency Is a No-Brainer

Windmills, Reusable Energy
Windmills, Reusable Energy

Amy Roesler

Executive Director & Board Member, Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance

As Executive Director and Board Member of the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance, Amy Roesler knows the importance of living an energy-efficient lifestyle. Mediaplanet asked her about how Canadians can make a difference with their energy usage, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and over the long term. The key? Education and habits.

What’s often overlooked when it comes to renewable energy?

Renewable energy is one solution to foster an overall cleaner energy portfolio in Canada, and these transitions are very important. However, before investing in renewables, the most cost-effective option to reduce usage and emissions is often energy efficiency. You may want to first look at efficiency options, then look at renewables to meet reduced energy needs.

Broad approaches to energy efficiency policy and programming, whether provincial or federal, can reduce costs to consumers through mitigating major capital costs of building or buying cleaner energy supply, and through utility bill savings. This is most often accomplished via a province-wide utility system mandate to pursue all energy efficiency that is more cost-effective than alternatives.   

What are some ways we can be energy efficient during the COVID-19 pandemic?

With many of us working from home, and some also with kids at home more than before, energy usage costs have increased. While many people may not have planned to spend much at this time, if you happen to be at a point where you’re deciding on something essential for your home, here are a few pointers: 

  1. Learn about available rebates and incentives. Most provinces across Canada have a broad range of energy efficiency programs that can help Canadians save money and increase comfort in their homes, and help businesses increase competitiveness and productivity. Your utility or local energy efficiency agency should have information about the rebates and incentives available to you. Leading provinces and utilities also have programs specifically for a range of community types, including a blend of renewable and energy efficiency options for First Nations, and free energy-savings kits for those on fixed or lower incomes.
  2. Insulate your home. This is typically the most cost-effective and impactful improvement homeowners can make, whether through DIY improvements to weather-stripping windows and doors, or having a reputable insulation company come and advise you on attic or wall insulation improvements you might be able to make. Improvements to attic insulation can help with insulating against both heat and cold.
  3. Program your thermostat. This keeps your furnace and air conditioner operating at set temperatures throughout the day. Particularly over the winter, setting your thermostat several degrees lower overnight can help save money. Or maybe now is the time to try a smart thermostat, which can do this for you! For businesses and commercial buildings, it’s also important that heating, ventilation, and air conditioning — along with lighting — are optimized based on building occupancy. Usage is something that’s often overlooked but can have a big impact on reducing operating costs.
  4. Update with energy-efficient appliances. Refrigerators, heating, air conditioning, and hot water heating are all sources of additional energy use while we’re all at home. If there’s a point where you may need a new major appliance or piece of equipment in your business, ensure it’s as energy efficient as possible.

What technology can we use to increase energy efficiency? 

In homes, businesses, and industry, there are many proven and widely available technologies and practices that deliver cost, energy, and emissions savings. In homes, it’s programmable or smart thermostats, insulation, and energy-efficient furnaces, hot water heaters, air conditioners, and refrigerators. In businesses, buildings and industry, it’s often energy management information systems, facility energy audits, and energy management practices that can provide the information needed to optimize building operations and decide on cost-effective upgrades. Make sure to ask your utility or energy efficiency about available rebates and incentives, and your contractor or service provider about the most efficient options.

Why is eliminating energy waste important? 

According to the International Energy Agency, energy efficiency initiatives actually make up close to 60% of the action needed to mitigate climate change, while saving costs and creating jobs and GDP growth. And, a sustained, market-driven energy efficiency industry has the potential to create 5,300 jobs and $2.3 billion in GDP growth annually by 2030 in Alberta alone. It’s a no-brainer.

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