Posts Tagged ‘energy’

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?

An incandescent lightbulb.

An incandescent lightbulb.

Incandescent Light Bulbs

Incandescent Light Bulbs are the most inefficient, and as a result, they’re also the ones that will cost you the most. At $0.10 per kilowatt hour, running for 8 hours a day, just one 100-watt incandescent bulb will cost over $22 more than a 25-watt CFL bulb per year. Incandescent bulbs also require more frequent replacing- so you’ll be spending more on light bulbs, too, as the average lifespan of an incandescent bulb is 600-700 hours.

With this information, it’s no surprise that incandescent bulbs are being phased out and quickly becoming a thing of the past!

A Compact Fluorescent Bulb, aka CFL.

A Compact Fluorescent Bulb, aka CFL.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL) use 25% of the electricity of a comparable incandescent bulb; however, they aren’t as energy efficient as LEDs. Their lifespan also greatly exceeds those of incandescent bulbs; where an incandescent bulb will last 600-700 hours, CFL bulbs will last 7,000-10,000 hours, adding to a household’s savings.

The disadvantage of CFL lights is that they contain mercury inside the bulb, which can cause problems if the bulb breaks. As a result of this mercury, CFL lights are deemed to be Household Hazardous Waste, and need to be disposed of with other HHW products, like oil paint and batteries.

Look familiar? LEDs are gaining in popularity.

Look familiar? LEDs are gaining in popularity.

LED Lights

Light-Emitting Diode Bulbs (LED) last a lot longer than other lightbulbs; their average lifetime is 50,000- 100,000 hours! As a result, even though these are often more expensive at the time of purchase, fewer bulbs are needed over time. Fortunately, as manufacturing technology advances, the prices for these bulbs will likely start to lower.

LEDs use very little energy, and do not contain toxic chemicals, so they are not considered household hazardous waste. One 25W LED costs $30, but will last 15-20 years.

LEDs and CFLs are becoming more and more popular when individuals are looking to change their bulbs. Their impressive lifetime and their reduced environmental effects also play a major role in the switch from incandescents to CFLs and LEDs.

Power all with the Powerwall!

Written by: Ramsha Ahmed

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.

What is the Tesla Battery?

Model S Lithium Ion Battery

Model S Lithium Ion Battery

The new Powerwall Tesla Home Batteries are lithium ion batteries that come in two sizes – 7kWh and 10 kWh – and are combined with solar panels. The 7kWh battery is for daily usage and is designed to be mounted on a wall while the larger counterpart is stored for backup when the electricity may go out. The battery charges during off peak times when the rates are lower. The 7kWh batteries, when paired with other batteries, are sufficient enough to store customers’ generated electricity and use it during those expensive peak hours, or when the sun goes down. The start-up costs begin at approximately $3000 to $3500 and may be more before installation, making this new upgrade a less desirable option for many consumers. Tesla batteries are said to decrease in price by at least 50% in the next 10 years making them more affordable for homeowners and making them more practical in our daily lives.

Tesla Powerwall

Tesla Powerwall

What is its use?

When energy is generated in excess amounts, the unused energy is stored within a battery. When a battery is not present to store the energy it is often sold back to utility companies and then sold to customers later when they need it. In Ontario, we have to get people to pay us to take our excess energy at night time. The utility companies end up making money from the power you generate. The Tesla battery allows you to store the energy you make from solar energy and use it when you need it. Not only does it provide an economic benefit to home and business owners, but it also provides benefits for the environment.

Green Venture’s Plans for the Future

Current GV Battery System

Current Battery System at EcoHouse

Green Venture currently has two solar systems and a wind turbine on site to harvest renewable energy. We hope to replace our current batteries with the Tesla battery as soon as possible. The investment will help conserve more energy and will allow us to explore newer technologies and implement them into our daily lives. Right now we are using a battery bank, 24v dc system. We plan on using the tesla batteries in conjunction with our solar panels that we have on site. The power we save, we can store and use in the EcoHouse or to power the on-site Community CarShare Plug-In Prius Hybrid. During blackouts we will still have power at EcoHouse and be able to go about with our daily activities. There are endless possibilities with the new Tesla battery here at Green Venture!

Climate Change Champions Update April 2013: Dundas in Transition and Ecowham

Saturday March 23rd, 2013 marked the 7th annual Earth Hour. Earth Hour is the single largest mass participation event in the world. Based on the hope that we can mobilize people to take action on climate change, Earth Hour now inspires millions of people in over 7000 cities and towns in over 150 countries to switch lights off for an hour and is a great first step towards reducing our environmental impact. This year, Hamilton residents turned out the lights and were able to reduce energy consumption by 4% and Horizon Utilities reported energy usage was down 21 MW during Earth Hour – enough power to run 913 homes for an entire day.

While some Hamilton residents participated in Earth Hour by turning lights out at home or local restaurants, Dundas in Transition and the Ecological Churches of West Hamilton (Ecowham) took celebrations a step further by holding the Earth Hour Resilience and Sustainability Night. During Earth Hour and throughout the night, over 70 local residents celebrated by examining ways to become a more resilient and sustainable community through movies, presentations, and great treats from sponsors Café Domestique and Picone Fine Foods. Those who came to this terrific event at St Paul’s United Church were even given a sneak peek at The Revolution Movie. This movie tries to uncover the secret to saving ecosystems we depend on for survival. From coral reefs to deforestation to tar sands, he reveals that all of our actions are interconnected and that environmental degradation, species loss, ocean acidification, pollution, and food/water scarcity are reducing the Earth’s ability to house humans. This great evening night ended after lights went out to celebrate Earth Hour at 8:00 PM and flashlights came on!

Although turning the lights out for an hour isn’t the solution to all of our environmental issues, we hope that you go beyond the hour and start making small and simple changes that reduce your energy consumption today and every day.

To find out more about the Climate Change Champions program and ways you can reduce your environmental impacts, visit the Climate Change Hamilton website.

For more information about Dundas in Transition and Ecowham, check out their websites at

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– Deirdre

3-Step Plan to Sustain ecoENERGY Home Energy Audit Activities

Sustaining home energy auditing activities makes sense; this is why the US and the UK have both made significant commitments to their own National programs to sustain home energy audit/retrofit/financing programs.

At the same time that our counterparts in the developing world are taking home energy reductions seriously, the Canadian Government took a step backward by not having a long-term solution in place before cancelling the ecoENERGY  Retrofit – Houses program on March 31, 2011.

The Federal budget tabled before the recent May election included a one-year extension of the ecoENERGY program. However this is not the long-term solution we need to drive an industry that provides many benefits:

Homes in France must post the energy rating with the listings.

  • reduction in home heating and cooling costs,
  • thousands of jobs,
  • $10 of stimulus for every $1 invested,
  • significant tax revenue from retrofits, and
  • measurable benefits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.

Energy audit clients of Green Venture, a founding member of Green Communities Canada, on average reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 21% and reduce their household greenhouse gas emissions by over 3 tonnes (3,000 kilograms) per year. Considering the large number of families that participated in this program, these benefits really add up.

Green Venture is a member of the Save ecoENERGY Coalition who feel it is essential to create a long-term solution to sustain the residential energy audit industry without the need for ongoing federal home retrofit grants.

The coalition represents over 1,600 manufacturers, wholesalers, suppliers, home renovation contractors and energy audit businesses across Canada.

A letter from the Save ecoENERGY Colalition sent recently to the Prime Minister and other leaders outlines the benefits of the ecoENERGY program and a three-step plan to sustain it by implementing it over the next four years:

Close up: Home energy rating on listings in France.

Close up: Home energy rating on a house listing in France.

Step 1: Four-year renewal of federal ecoENERGY Home Retrofit program

Step 2: Transition to new EnerGuide rating system (ERS)

Step 3: ERS labeling of new and existing homes at time-of-sale

Green Venture agrees with other coalition members that this plan builds on three well-supported strategies and can realise the goal to enable the marketplace to sustain ecoENERGY activity, without the need for ongoing federal grants, within four years.

The Federal govenment’s proposed one-year extension of the ecoENERGY progam does not allow enough time to complete work on steps 2 and 3, above. Therefore, the Save ecoENERGY Colalition strongly recommends the renewal of ecoENERGY for a four-year interim period.

As the coalition’s letter stated: “This will provide the time and predictable conditions necessary to complete the three-step plan, thereby enabling the marketplace to sustain ecoENERGY activity without the need for any further federal home retrofit grants.”

Please let your leaders know if you feel the three step plan is a practical and measured approach to sustain this important sector that provides so many benefits to Canadian families and the environment. Sample letters can be found at

For more information on this topic, please visit

TheSpec – Cut in mowing will benefit birds

TheSpec – Cut in mowing will benefit birds.

Clean Air is a Yard Away – Lawn Mower Exchange Events

Our April Clean Air is a Yard Away events were a success as reported by John Kernaghan on Open File Hamilton (May 5, 2011 – Folks clear the air by giving up trusted mowers).

Be sure to come out to our next event on Saturday May 14th from 10am to 4pm at RONA Parkdale (633 Parkdale Ave North in Hamilton).

Clean Air is a Yard Away events with RONA stores offer a $50 instant rebate on a new, eco-friendly model when an older gas powered lawnmower is turned in.  Please take out the fuel and oil and recycle these at a City of Hamilton Community Recycling Centre – then bring us the old lawnmower.

We’re doing this because Canadian’s gas powered lawn equipment dump about 80,000 tonnes of harmful emissions into our air yearly it is important to get these dirty old machines out of commission.  

Only with the help of our partners at RONA Waterdown, RONA Parkdale, and Green Circle Recycling in Waterdown can Green Venture offer this type of program.

Check out Green Venture’s Small Engine webpage for more info and facsheets on small engines and air quality.

Hang ‘Em Out to Dry! (Clotheslines & the Law)

Update – April 10, 2012

I asked the Province (Ministry of Energy) to clarify the regulations regarding clotheslines in condominiums. Here’s the reply I received:

Dear Mr. Wobschall:

Thank you for your letter regarding the use of clotheslines in condominiums. I commend you on your interest in conserving energy.

The Ministry of Energy promotes the air drying of clothes over using a clothes dryer where appropriate. In 2008, the province changed the regulation pertaining to the use of clotheslines to dry laundry in Ontario. This change allowed people to use clotheslines in certain circumstances where they might not otherwise be allowed. This change applies to ground level clotheslines only; clotheslines on condominium balconies continue to be subject to the rules set by the building owner and agreed to by its occupant owners or tenants. As such, allowing the use of clotheslines on the balcony of your condominium unit is at the discretion of the Condominium Board.

For more information, please visit the Ministry of Energy’s Electricity Regulations webpage at This site includes a series of questions and answers which will provide further clarity on the government’s clothesline regulation.

Once again, thank you for your letter regarding the use of clotheslines in condominiums.

Update – April 2, 2012

Added condo-specific information from the Ministry of Energy’s website below. Pete W.

Update – March 10, 2011

I just received the following information from the City in response to a question I asked on this issue:

Hi Pete,

Without quoting from the Zoning By-law directly (as it’s pretty long) there are no zoning regulations for clotheslines. A clothesline is not considered a structure and can be located within any required yard. None of the Zoning By-laws speak specifically to clotheslines so this is our interpretation applied across the board.

Debbie Spence
Communications Officer
General Manager’s Office
Planning and Economic Development Department
City of Hamilton
71 Main Street West, 7th Floor
Hamilton, ON

Original Post…

We had a group from the Hamilton Naturalists Club visit EcoHouse for a tour recently and our tour guide (Clare) was asked about regulations pertaining to clothelines. This may be old news to some, but we do get this question more often than you might think. Thanks to some of our great staff (Clare, Laura, and Kirstin) for the info I used in this post.

Yes, You May

If you’re looking for the quick response: yes – you may use a clothesline at most residences; as long as it doesn’t pose a health threat, and it’s on your property; even if you currently live under a developer’s covenant, landowner rental agreement,  or municipal or condominium by-law preventing their use.

Provincial Clothesline Regulations

Provincial regulations enacted in 2008 to contribute to energy conservation efforts, superceeds most by-laws and provisions restricting their use. Here is my summary of the Province’s webpage overview on this subject (I am not a lawyer – best to read the regulations yourself):

Generally Speaking…

  • Clotheslines are considered: clotheslines, clothestrees, and anything else that has the purpose of “drying clothes” and “no other purpose” (I’m guessing that a 12 foot statue of your mother-in-law wouldn’t qualify as a “clothes dryer”.
  • Clotheslines can be used in back and side yards.
  • Clotheslines can be used if you access them by standing directly on the ground, or from a deck or other fixed structure.
  • Clotheslines can be used if they are on your property, or property you are renting as long as your agreement/lease allows you (and only you) to use the property.
  • Clotheslines can be used as long as they do not compromise safety.
  • Condos are a little different, but the act does permit use in “ground level exclusive right of use areas”, as long as they do not pose health risks.
  • Clotheslines on balconies are still subject to the rules of the building owner and agreed to by its occupant owners or tenants.

Please note: this is my summary only, please read for yourself the Province’s summary of the regulations here.

Text from Ontario Regulation 97/08:

Designation of clotheslines etc.
1.  The following are designated for the purposes of subsection 3 (1) of the Act:

1. Clotheslines.
2. Clothestrees.
3. Any goods and technologies that have a purpose that is the same as a clothesline or clothestree, and no other purpose.
4. Any equipment that is necessary for the proper installation and operation of anything that is designated under this section. O. Reg. 97/08, s. 1.

Prescribed circumstances
2.  A person is permitted to install and use any goods or technologies designated in section 1, if the following circumstances apply:

1. The designated goods or technologies and any necessary equipment are installed on property upon which is situated a house or building that is used solely for residential occupancy and which is the person’s place of residence.
2. The designated goods or technologies and any necessary equipment are installed in a manner so as to ensure that there are no impediments to safety, including, but not limited to, impediments to access to or egress from the house or building.
3. The designated goods or technologies and any necessary equipment are installed adjacent to the side or rear wall of the house or building so as to be useable by a person,

i. standing directly on the ground,
ii. standing on a deck or other fixed platform accessed directly from the ground floor of the house or building, if the deck or fixed platform is no higher than the floor level of the ground floor, or
iii. standing on a step-stool or similar device placed either directly on the ground or on a deck or other fixed platform accessed directly from the ground floor of the house or building, if the deck or fixed platform is no higher than the floor level of the ground floor.

4. The designated goods or technologies and any necessary equipment are installed in an area where the person has an exclusive right of use by virtue of their residency. O. Reg. 97/08, s. 2.3.  Omitted (provides for coming into force of provisions of this Regulation). O. Reg. 97/08, s. 3.

Clothes Dryer Energy Use

So, how much energy (and cash) can you save with a clothesline?

Clothes dryers are a handy item, particularly when its cold or raining for periods of time and you can’t use a clothesline. However, the efficiency of clothes dryers is not advancing as quickly as other appliances such as dishwashers or clothes washers – it still pays to reduce your clothes dryer use. The following table compares data from Natural Resources Canada.

Appliance                                       1990*                                 2008*

Dishwashers                                      1,026                                    343

Clothes Washers                              1,218                                     387

Clothes Dryers                                 1,103                                    916

*Average annual kilowatt hour use.

NRCan assumes you dry 8 loads per week, or 416 averages loads per year. Based on the 1990 consumption data, and at $0.11 per kilowatt hour*, the annual average cost to operate per year is around $121 per year. At the 2008 average, it would cost around $100 to operate per year. A very rough calculation based on using a clothesline from May to September (5 months of the year, a 42% reduction in use) would result in  a savings of around $50 for the 1990 average, and $42 for the 2008 average.

*Please note: determining the average price per kilowatt for electricity is difficult. We used $0.11 as this was the number provided to Green Venture as a rough estimate from our utility, before Smart Meters were introduced and recent electricity rate hikes, which now make it more difficult to calculate.  

Clothes Dryer Conservation Tips

When you must use a dryer, here are some tips on dryer conservation from Horizon Utilities.

Lots of great info from Natural Resources Canada on selecting new appliances, calculating the life costs of an appliance, and more.

FAQs from Ministry of Energy Website

Change to Clothesline Regulation

April 18, 2008 – Changes have been made to the regulation pertaining to the use of clotheslines to dry laundry in Ontario.

The province is putting an end to some restrictions that prevent people from using outdoor clotheslines. This includes agreements between home builders and buyers in some towns and cities in Ontario.

Questions and Answers About Ontario’s Clothesline Regulation

What does the new regulation say exactly?
The new regulation allows people to use clotheslines in certain circumstances where they might not otherwise be allowed – because of a developer’s covenant, landowner rental agreement, or municipal or condominium by-law. The regulation overrides any such prohibitions.

Where are clotheslines allowed?
Clotheslines are now expressly permitted:

  • On ground level (includes a deck) in a homeowner’s back or side yard;
  • On a ground level (includes a deck) in a renter’s back or side yard, if the rental arrangement gives exclusive use of the yard to the renter.

Where will clotheslines still not be permitted under this regulation?
This regulation will not override existing by-laws whose purpose is to maintain safety (such as prohibitions against its use in high rises) or any provincial statute or regulation.

Does the regulation mean that clotheslines are not allowed on balconies?
Clotheslines on balconies will continue to be subject to the rules set by a building owner and agreed to by its occupant owners or tenants. The government’s decision was to not overturn rules banning clotheslines in those situations. Those rules recognize the potential safety issues associated with clotheslines on upper floor balconies.

By specifying that the regulation applies to bans on clotheslines on the ground floor, the government was, however, able to apply the regulation to a wider set of building types. For example, the regulation does encompass ground floor clotheslines for buildings over three stories, without increasing the safety risk.

How does the regulation affect condominiums?
The new regulation establishes clotheslines in ground floor exclusive right-of-use areas as a permitted good or technology to promote energy conservation, as prescribed by the Energy Conservation Leadership Act, 2006 (ECLA). As a result, any condominium bylaw prohibiting clotheslines in these areas is now overridden.

  • In some condominium projects, a ground level area is part of the condominium unit (and is not a common element). In this case, a clothesline may be installed or used in the side or back yard, so long as it does not impair safety.
  • In the case of a ground level area of a condominium that is part of an exclusive use common element, the unit owner will need to speak with the Board before installing a clothesline. Common elements belong to the corporation as a whole, and the Board has a duty to manage and administer the common elements on behalf of the corporation and the unit owners. Board approval is always required before an owner makes any alteration to a common element.
  • Under the new regulation, a portable drying rack that does not result in any alteration to an exclusive use common element could be used (without need of Board approval) in the side or back yard of a ground level condominium unit, so long as it does not impair safety.

Does the regulation apply to trailers and tents?
The regulation applies to property where there is a house or other residential “building”. A mobile home in a complex where the homes, while “mobile”, move infrequently, are set on fixed semi-permanent supports, and are typically the occupant’s principal residence and primary mailing address, are included. Trailers and tents in areas such as parks and camp grounds are not a building, and not commonly someone’s primary house, and so are not included.

Parks and camp areas where people often go with trailers or tents, typically have rules meant to protect the natural features of the area, For example, there may be concerns over how a clothesline might be fastened to a tree, or might damage a small tree. These local rules may or may not make provision for clotheslines. In either case, the regulation does not apply to these scenarios as the regulation would only apply in respect of a property upon which is situated a house or other residential building being occupied as a residence.

Does the regulation affect municipal by-laws?
A review did not uncover any current Ontario municipal by-law that restricts the use of clotheslines. The two kinds of restrictions that do appear to often occur are the restrictive covenants imposed by developers. That said, the regulation would supersede any municipal by-law, existing or proposed, to specifically restrict clotheslines.

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