Climate Action at Home

Residential housing is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions due to the fossil fuels used in homes for heating and hot water. Renovating existing homes with energy-saving improvements is a priority included in Brantford’s Community Climate Action Plan.

Home Energy Retrofits

A home energy retrofit involves making changes at home to reduce the amount of energy your household needs and uses. This can be done by “reducing, improving, and switching” to reduce energy consumption and emissions.

The order of the steps is intentional with the most effective approach being to reducing the amount of energy needed as much as possible through energy conservation. This can involve turning off lights, insulating houses to maintain internal temperatures, etc. Next, would be to improve the amount of work being done with that energy by increasing energy efficiency. Examples of how this can be done are buying more energy efficient appliances, furnaces, and air conditioners and replacing light bulbs with LEDs. Finally, switching to low carbon fuel sources to supply the remaining energy demand. Low carbon fuel sources include electricity, solar, geothermal, etc.

By investing in retrofits that make your home more energy efficient, you will lower your energy costs, reduce your maintenance requirements, reduce your carbon emissions, and support the local economy and local jobs. The costs and savings associated with home energy retrofits are largely dependent on the age, condition, and size of the house, with older homes generally having greater potential for savings.

No cost energy conservation measures could include:

  • Turning off lights
  • Closing curtains to keep room cool
  • Utilizing natural daylight
  • Unplugging small appliances and electronics
  • Setting back temperatures at night or when you’re not home

Minor retrofits could include:

  • Caulking and adding weather strips around windows and doors to eliminate drafts
  • Adding insulation
  • Upgrading lights and lighting systems
  • Installing a smart thermostat

Major retrofits could include:

  • Replacing windows and doors
  • Updating inefficient heating and cooling systems
  • Installing air-source or ground-source heat pumps
  • Installing low-flow faucets and showerheads
  • Installing net-metered solar power

For residents in rented homes, the measures above would need to be undertaken by property owners. However, tenants can make some draft-proofing improvements such as:

  • Temporary window film for draft-proofing and insulation
  • Electrical outlet foam gaskets for exterior walls
  • Draft-proofing tape for exterior doors

Making your home more energy efficient and resilient to climate change

Available incentives and service providers
Rooftop solar panels and MyHEAT Solar
  • MyHEAT Solar is an online tool that can help identify the potential financial and environmental benefits solar panels would have on your roof at home
Water conservation
  • Every drop of drinking water used or wasted carries an environmental impact. Treating and pumping our water and sewage is responsible for about one-third of the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations in Ontario. Conserving water in your homes can help limit these impacts.
    Every litre of water that does not need to be treated and pumped reduces energy use and emissions.
    • Showers and baths: Reduce your shower time and install a low flow showerhead with a WaterSense label to reduce energy needed to heat the water and reduce the amount of water used. Consider installing a hot water recirculation unit to help save money on your water bill and limit wasted water.
    • Toilets: Save water through your home’s toilet by installing a low flow toilet with a WaterSense label, avoid unnecessary flushing, check for leaks, replace or adjust the toilet flush handle if it is sticking regularly and making your toilet run constantly.
    • Washing Machines: To save water and energy while doing laundry, install a high efficiency washing machine, select the correct load sizes, wear your clothes more than once to avoid unnecessary loads, wash in cold water to save energy and heat, repair any leaks.
    • Kitchen: Save water in the kitchen by installing a low flow faucet, soaking your pots and pans, using a Brita, steaming veggies instead of boiling them, and not using running water to thaw meat and other frozen foods.
    • Outdoor water use: Lower your water usage outdoors by watering in the early morning, being mindful of municipal water alerts, using rain barrels to water gardens, avoid using a lawn sprinkler, and choosing more drought tolerant plants.
    • Water conservation while you’re away from home: Set your water heater to vacation mode or lower the temperature a few degrees before you go on vacation. Also, turning off the main water supply to your home is the best defense against flooding caused by a burst pipe or other plumbing failure.
Flooding prevention at home
  • Flooding has been identified as one of the highest risks in Brantford caused by climate change. Sump pumps, sump pits, and backwater valves can help prevent flooding. Basement window well covers, downspout extensions, downspout splash blocks, and landscaping to maintain or create surface swales can help water flow away from homes.
Tree planting
  • Planting native trees around your house will provide shade and can act as a wind break reducing the energy your home needs for both summer cooling and winter heating. Trees also help absorb heavy rainfall and reduce stormwater flows. Trees also help to reduce the urban heat island effect and can help cool down surrounding areas.
72-hour emergency kit
  • Prepare a 72 hour emergency kit to use in the event of a power outage, neighbourhood disaster, or any emergency that requires residents to shelter-in-place. Typical items in a 72 hour emergency kit include bottled water, medications, food for 3 days, first aid kit, wind-up flashlight and radio, external battery pack or wind-up phone charger, dust mask and duct tape, whistle, personal sanitation items, important documents, cash in small bills and coins, warm clothing, and blankets or sleeping bags.
Calculate your household’s carbon footprint
  • The first step to making change is understanding where your personal carbon emissions are coming from. You can use the Carbon Zero calculator to calculate your carbon footprint.

For more tips on reducing energy at home, check out SaveOnEnergy!