Going green the easy way
United Church sponors free talk on energy efficiency
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Saturday, Jan 19, 2013 06:00 am
Energy efficiency should be a no brainer – if you can save money and help the planet without freezing, why wouldn’t you?
So why do so few people do it?
Edmontonian Anna Bubel thinks she has the answer, and she’s bringing it to St. Albert next weekend.
Bubel is an energy efficiency expert and the CEO of C Returns – an Edmonton-based non-profit formed last year to help locals perform green retrofits of their homes. Supported by the City of Edmonton and the Social Enterprise fund, the group hopes to help 1,703 homeowners complete green retrofits in the next two years.
The St. Albert United Church has asked Bubel to give a free talk this Jan. 27 on energy efficiency, says Rev. James Ravenscroft.
“We believe very strongly that the issue of climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time,” he says, with researchers predicting hardships in the form of famine and flood if the world keeps warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. “As followers of Jesus, we need to respond to climate change.”
The church itself is home to the largest known solar array in St. Albert, one that its website reports has prevented 4.86 tons of emissions – equivalent to planting 125 trees. The church has had an energy audit done, Ravenscroft says, and is now saving up to implement its suggestions.
But they’re the exception, not the rule. Research suggests that about 60 per cent of people who get a home energy audit don’t follow through on any of the improvements the audit suggests, Bubel says.
“We find that the number one reason why people don’t make changes isn’t the money. It’s the hassle.” Most people don’t have the time or knowledge needed to tender contracts, shop for materials and supervise staff in order to replace furnaces or install solar panels.
“Two years ago, I knew I needed a (new) furnace,” she says as an example, but she had no idea what to get or whom to ask. Salespersons were asking her obscure questions about “brush or brushless” motors, and all she could say was, “How am I supposed to know?”
She teamed up with the folks from the energy efficiency firm Carbon Busters to create C Returns. The group is meant to be a one-stop shop for green retrofits, one that audits your home, suggests upgrades, and finds and supervises contractors.
One of the cheapest ways people can green their homes is to buy green power, Bubel notes, which most homes can do for $15 a month. Doing so eliminates about 42 per cent of the emissions from a typical St. Albert home, the city’s greenhouse gas inventory reports, by replacing coal-generated power with wind, water and solar.
Phantom power can be responsible for more power use than any single appliance in your home, notes Bubel, referring to devices that use power even when shut off. You can spot these electric ghosts by looking for power bricks on cords – if the brick is warm even if the device is off, it’s possessed. Exorcise these drainers by plugging them all into one power bar and shutting it off, she suggests.
Other upgrades should be done with care, she continues. While you can save heat by adding more insulation to your attic, you have to make sure you still have airflow afterwards. Make sure you ask for the full-frame insulation (or “R”) value of a window while shopping, she adds, as vendors may try to trick you with the more favourable centre-of-the-glass one. (Higher R-values are better.)
These are all changes people can make without giving up hot showers or cold beers, Bubel says. “We’re not asking anyone to freeze in the dark for the environment.”
Bubel’s talk starts at 11:30 a.m. at 20 Green Grove Drive. Call 780-458-8355 for details.