Strategies to Continue Reducing Ontario’s Emissions

Published on November 21, 2018

Strategies to Continue Reducing Ontario’s Emissions

Since 2005, Ontario has led Canada in greenhouse gas emission reductions, with a 22 percent decline over the past 13 years. This accounts for a reduction in the province’s carbon dioxide emissions by about 40 million tonnes each year.

In a recent Climate Strategy Submission by the Ontario Energy Association (OEA), the ways that Ontario can continue to reduce carbon emissions are evaluated, and new methods are demonstrated to show just how effective they could be in lowering greenhouse gas emissions even further.

The emission reductions that have already been achieved in Ontario have largely been through the use of lower carbon emitting energy sources, energy conservation, and a vast array of standards for improving home and vehicle efficiency.

For homeowners in Ontario, this means that by taking measures such as evaluating and improving your home’s efficiency, or by switching your home to a lower emitting and cost effective energy source such as natural gas, you can significantly contribute towards lowering carbon emissions in Ontario.

Energy Conservation Methods

The Climate Strategy Submission’s proposed energy conservation measures, along with the strategies that are already in use in Ontario include: natural gas demand side management (DSM), electricity conservation demand management (CDM), natural gas fuel switching, and the blending of domestic natural gas into the energy distribution system.

DSM programs involve changing the behaviour of energy consumers in ways such as: providing incentives to use less power during peak hours, and offering alternative and more efficient energy sources at a more affordable price - such as natural gas. This helps to move consumers towards more efficient fuel sources and works to reduce carbon emissions. In Ontario, natural gas DSM programs have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 147 million tonnes since 2005, and have also saved a significant 14 Terawatt-hours of electricity.

Similar to DSM programs in some aspects, CDM programs also include creating incentives to help consumers move towards sourcing and using their energy more efficiently, but CDM programs differ as they involve saving energy and reducing demand by improving energy efficiency - helping to reduce energy bills for consumers and carbon emissions for Ontario. This means that by increasing energy efficiency in industrial, residential, and commercial sectors, it creates a reduction in demand for energy. And with a lower amount of demand it means a lower rate of energy consumption, resulting in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions within Ontario.  

The Uses of Natural Gas

In the OEA’s Climate Strategy Submission, it outlines natural gas as an excellent source of low cost and low carbon energy, while also saying that it meets over 80 percent of the peak energy demand in the winter. With natural gas being an affordable and plentiful supply of energy, a few methods for incorporating it into our energy supply are examined in the strategy submission, including: natural gas fuel switching and the blending of domestic natural gas into the energy distribution system.

Natural gas fuel switching has the potential to further contribute towards emissions reductions by deploying new technologies such as combined heat and power, and it can also be used as an alternative energy source to reduce the weight of peak load on the electricity sector. The OEA outlines natural gas fuel switching as having the potential to reduce emissions by 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2035.

Producing and blending domestic renewable natural gas into the energy distribution system is also helpful in reducing emissions, as a carbon neutral source of natural gas can become available for all sectors of the economy. This would mean a wider distribution of natural gas supplies to more homes, industries and business across Canada, and by 2035 this could result in a reduction of emissions amounting to 4.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

Energy Conservation for Homeowners

The Ontario Energy Association has a goal of a made-in-Ontario Climate change plan that “puts people first”, and has identified several energy conservation measures that can assist Ontario in reducing its yearly emissions amounts - helping also to make life more affordable for families. The measures laid out in the strategy have been shown to be economically viable and effective at helping the province work towards its goal of continually reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

This means that for homeowners who are looking to save money on their utility bills and lower their home’s carbon emissions, they should be looking towards having a Home Energy Assessment done by a Registered Energy Advisor, as it is the first step towards improving a home’s energy efficiency, and contributing towards the OEA’s made-in-Ontario climate change plan.

Home Energy Assessments

Included in a Home Energy Assessment is a complete evaluation of the home’s level of efficiency, and a list of solutions of how and where it could be improved. A Registered Energy Advisor is able to determine which solutions would be the most cost effective to use, which means that they are able to present the homeowner with the list of efficiency improving solutions ordered in terms of what would provide the home with the greatest improvement per dollar spent.

Quite often, improving energy efficiency can be done with simple and cost effective modifications or retrofits, but by having a Registered Energy Advisor conduct a Home Energy Assessment, they can obtain all of the information about the home they need to be able to  provide the homeowner with a vast array of energy conservation methods - clearly indicating the cost effectiveness and expected future savings of each method.

To make investing in energy efficiency upgrades even more affordable, a Home Energy Assessment can also help your home qualify for the home renovation rebates that are currently available from Enbridge and Union Gas.

The Canada Greener Homes Grant offers home efficiency renovation grants up to $5,000.

Homeowners Canada-wide are eligible for the Canada Greener Homes Grant, announced on May 27, 2021. This new incentive offers up to $5,000 in grants for home efficiency retrofit renovations, plus a $600 reimbursement for pre- and post-work EnerGuide evaluations. Eligible retrofit scopes include home insulation, heating, doors, windows, photovoltaic solar panels, resiliency measures, and thermostats.

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