Energy and inspiration

Energy — one way or another, we all use it. Even if I have the smallest energy footprint in the world (which I don’t), I am still an energy consumer. I heat and cool my house. I cool and cook my food. I light up my world after dark. And, once in a while, I take a hot shower.

Keeping energy in mind 

I burn oil in my furnace, wood in my fireplace, propane in my barbeque, electricity in my house, gas in my car, and I buy products that took energy to produce and transport. After my mortgage, energy is my largest expense. Must I consume as much energy as I do? Definitely not. Can I reduce my consumption? Definitely. But I have to be deliberate about it. I have to be aware of how much I consume by measuring and tracking my energy use (what the heck is a kilowatt-hour anyway?), be willing to change my lifestyle (lower the thermostat, wear more fleece; drive less, walk more), and research and implement long-term lower energy alternatives (plant sun-blocking trees). It’s just like going on a diet: monitor weight, reduce intake, increase activity, maintain the regimen.

 Find support on the Energy Diet Challenge website

And, like going on a diet, it helps to have some help. Supportive family and friends who share in your commitment can really inspire you and improve your chances of reaching your goal. And that’s where Canada’s Energy Diet Challenge comes in.

Inspiration — that’s what we hope you take from this ambitious new initiative. We want to inspire all Canadians to go on the Energy Diet. How? Well, this website is the first step, offering all kinds of advice on how to monitor and reduce energy use.

We will also get to know the six chosen households — families and friends — who are seriously committed to the diet. In fact, until December 4, 2011, they are going to open up their lives, energy-wise, for all of us to follow (hyperlink to households main page) while competing for our votes and the title of Energy Diet champions.

In addition to shrinking their energy use, the households will compete head-to-head in an urban race using low-carbon transportation and knowledge of household energy efficiency, as well as a challenge to see which household can travel farthest on a litre of fuel. I’m looking to them for inspiration, and I hope you do too.

Image: All the Energy Diet Household together in Banff; Todd Korol