Sustainability

Staying happy in the hot weather- without air conditioning

It's a hot week here in Ontario, and quite a few folks have instinctively fired up the air conditioners to compensate.

Before you turn on that power-hungry, money-sucking piece of machinery, though, consider trying some cheaper and less energy-intensive ways to keep comfortable around  the house in the hot weather. And, if you do end up needing the AC, don't let it pick your wallet dry.

Alphabet soup: Making sense of Ontario's power bureaucracy

Ontario's electricity grid has been in the news again lately. It seems some folks are confused about what, exactly, goes into their power bill and why they are paying 12 cents per kilowatt hour when the "market rate" is supposedly 3 cents.

I can't say I blame them- we have an alphabet soup of agencies in on this, and the electricity "market" is anything but. Let's try to clarify.

The environmental case for multiple cars and insurance reform

There is a strong case to be made, from an environmental perspective, in favour of owning multiple cars.

Wait, what?

Conventional wisdom is that the environmentally friendly thing to do is to not have a car, or if you depend on cars, to have as few as possible. In many cases (indeed, in any case where you can get by without a car), the conventional wisdom is right.

It turns out, though, that if two conditions are true- (1) you depend on cars and have no public transit options, and (2) you need a large vehicle often enough that renting a van on occasion doesn't make sense- the environmentally preferable option may be to own more vehicles, not fewer. Sharing the largest of these vehicles (something that's very difficult under current insurance rules, but could be encouraged with insurance reforms) would make the benefits easier to achieve.

Cranking that air conditioner is more expensive than you think

We've had a heat and drought wave in southern Ontario for the last few weeks. The grass goes "crunch" underfoot, there's been virtually no rain for a month, and the thermometer's been consistently in the high 20s to low 30s- and, with humidity at 70+ percent, it feels a lot hotter.

It's obviously quite tempting to crank up the air conditioner and pretend that it's nice and cool. The energy (and financial) cost of running that air conditioner, though, escalates much faster than you might expect.

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