Energy Efficiency is recognized as a key, cost-effective way to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Government of Canada and provincial governments have programs to encourage the use of energy efficient products, and educational programs to encourage energy efficient practices. The New Year is a traditional time to make assessments of the past and to make resolutions for the coming year. As 2019 approaches, let’s have a look at how we are doing with energy efficiency.

National Resources Canada, in its report Energy Efficiency Trends in Canada 1990 to 2015, reported an increase in residential energy use of 8% during the report’s timeframe, while Canada’s population grew by 29%. The sectors of commercial/institutional, industrial, transportation, and agriculture showed higher increases in energy consumption, reflecting an expansion in energy-consuming equipment and technology. Energy use grew by 30% and would have increased by 55% without energy efficiency improvements. That means that energy efficiency measures translated into an energy saving equivalent of about 39 million cars in 2015. The savings were evident in all sectors measured in the report and resulted from conversions to more energy-efficient products and equipment, a reduction in coal as a fuel source and better efficiency in buildings, to give some examples.

What can the average Canadian do to reduce our environmental footprint? We may feel that one individual act means nothing, but we would be mistaken. Alberta Energy Efficiency, in its Annual Summary of Calculations, estimates that a 40-Watt incandescent bulb replaced by a 10-Watt equivalent LED bulb saves approximately 32.9 kWh per year. If each of Canada’s 36.95 Million people takes an action like using LED lighting, the power saving becomes considerable. If we add other actions, like turning off lights and electronics when not in use, we conserve more.

It’s something to consider when making our New Year’s resolutions.