From extreme heat and pavement-roasting heatwaves to major rain storms and flooding, the consequences of climate change are palpable for Torontonians.
To do its part in curbing global warming, the City of Toronto has an ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2040. And if you own a home in the 6ix, you have the chance to make a massive contribution.
After all, Toronto homes and buildings produce 58% of the city's total greenhouse gasemissions. If all property owners took steps toward greater energy efficiency, the City would be well on its way to hitting that net-zero goal.
The Toronto skyline. Sandro Schuh | Unsplash
The best part is that the top three things you can do to slash your home's environmental impact make financial sense too. Not only are there rebates available for all of them, but you can also save big on your bills over time.
Without further ado, here are the top ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your home and help the City of Toronto lead the way into a greener, more sustainable future.
Make the switch to a heat pump
The main culprit when it comes to household carbon emissions is the heating system. So many homes in Toronto rely on natural gas (aka fossil-fueled) heating systems, and fossil fuels are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.
A technician repairing an air conditioner. Andrey Popov | Adobe Stock
You can replace both your furnace and your air conditioner with a far more efficient electric heat pump to dramatically cut your environmental impact and save money on bills too.
Heat pumps work much like air conditioners during the warmer months. But when the mercury drops, heat pumps reverse the process by warming the outside air and pumping it into your home.
A heat pump outside a home. Courtesy of the City of Toronto
Apart from being a greener alternative for your heating needs, heat pumps can produce up to three times the heat energy compared to natural gas for the same amount of power used.
By installing a heat pump, you can also avoid the added cost of carbon pricing that's guaranteed to make natural gas rates go up in the future. With a fully electrical heating system, you'll be making your home more comfortable and significantly reducing its emissions.
The best time to start planning for a heat pump is before your furnace and air conditioner reach their end of life.
Level up your insulation game
A worker installs insulation in a home. bilanol | Adobe Stock
A key to optimizing energy efficiency within your home is to keep that warm or cool air where it's meant to be. Proper insulation creates a thermal barrier, which helps keep the temperature inside stable — whatever the temperature outside.
The barrier also slows hot and cold exchanges that create condensation, which can lead to a slew of moisture-related problems you don't want, like mould and mildew.
Some places in your home might be lacking insulation, like the attic or basement, while others could benefit from an upgrade. By addressing these spots and investing in high-quality insulation materials, you'll be creating a more environmentally friendly living space.
An attic window surrounded by insulation. brizmaker | Adobe Stock
And because you don't have to crank the thermostat to compensate for air loss, you can save money on heating and cooling all year round.
Upgrade to air-tight windows & doors
Air loss can happen in ways you may not think about twice, like through the cracks in your windows and exterior doors. In fact, 25% of total house heat loss in Canada can be blamed on these sneaky gaps.
A worker installs a new window in a home. Niko_Dali | Adobe Stock
Whether it's summer or winter, inefficient windows and doors can significantly increase the energy you need to cool or heat your home. And, like improper insulation, there's potential for pesky moisture-related problems too.
If you don't already have properly sealed doors and windows, consider replacing them with high-performance models that will improve your home's energy efficiency.
Check your door and window seals often for damage, and stay on top of repairs to make sure you don't have a costly leak anywhere.
Toronto buildings at sunset. Andre Furtado | Pexels
Not only do these investments future-proof your home for a more sustainable future, but they will also help Toronto become a net-zero emissions city by 2040.
Taking these steps to reduce your household's greenhouse gas emissions is a win-win scenario — you’ll enjoy a home with increased comfort today and a cleaner, more environmentally responsible tomorrow.