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Canadians waste more energy than almost any people in the world. We love big trucks, beer fridges and keeping our homes colder in the summer than in the winter. That’s why the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance has presented the Eco-City Community Challenge, managed by Green Living Enterprises, to encourage Canadians to lower our energy consumption. Here are seven ways we can begin unburdening natural ecosystems, municipal infrastructure and our wallets.

1. Turn off and unplug any electronics not in use. Many household gadgets use energy simply by being plugged in. Chargers and anything with a clock, such as a coffee maker or DVD player, are constantly sapping energy and money. The average household spends $114 annually on unused gadgets left plugged in.

2. Make renovations that pay for themselves. Upgrade your home’s insulation, seal air leaks and tap into solar energy. Installing a programmable thermostat, which allows you to turn down the temperature at night and when no one is home during the day, can save you $114 a year. Upgrading your furnace could save you as much as $590 a year.

3. Enjoy the seasons by allowing your home to be cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer. Every degree by which you lower your heat in the winter, or raise your air conditioning in the summer, saves you three to five per cent off of your electrical bill.

4. Swap out big-ticket energy vampires for more efficient options. Replace top-loading washers and fuel-inefficient SUVs. Ditch the second fridge for chilling beer and pop; it could be costing you $150 annually.

5. Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED lighting. Turn off lights when they aren’t in use: they are responsible for a quarter of your energy bill.

6. Watch your water bill evaporate by installing a dual-flush toilet and a low-flow showerhead. Toilets are responsible for 30 per cent of household water use, and a dual-flush toilet can cut that number by nearly half. Line-drying half of your laundry could save you $45 a year. Take shorter, cooler showers and save on both water and electricity.

7. Book an energy audit to have your home assessed for its efficiency and find out which retrofits are the best investment. Most Canadian provinces still offer rebates for energy audits. The assessment can help you save money, energy and water, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These tips were compiled from the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance’s collection of articles. Find more ways to save and enter for a chance to win a set of energy-efficient Whirlpool appliances at Eco-City Community Challenge.

Lindsay is completing her Honours English Literature degree at the University of Waterloo. She is interested in bringing academic work down from the ivory tower, and the ways in which we can limit our personal impacts on the environment.  She has won three UW English Society awards for her poetry and prose. Lindsay likes reading, Mexican food, crosswords, and walking anywhere.

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