eMERGE Guelph

News & Blog

Posted September 15, 2017

Car Free Day is September 22, 2017!

At eMERGE, our mission is to transition Guelph to 100% Renewable Energy. Reducing Guelph’s dependance on fossil fuels is the first step in making this a possibility! We are celebrating Car Free Day this year, and making the pledge to leave the car in the garage all day. We hope that you will too!

In order to make this day a little easier, we interviewed two of our followers who live a car-free lifestyle everyday (even through the winter). These interviews will give you an inside look on how to go car-free, year round!

 

Introducing: Jordan

How long have you lived car free?

Two years.

 

What inspired you to ditch your car or remain car-free?

Car ownership is needlessly expensive and aggravating and riding a bike is FUN and EASY.

 

How do you get around? (around town and longer road trips) How do you do this in a Canadian winter?

In town you’ll find me on a bike for 99% of trips. Even in the winter. The cold is not an impediment to riding a bike for short distances, and I could count the number of winter days on one hand where the roads/trails are actually impassable on an appropriate bike. It helps that I live/shop/play all in the downtown area… but it was a conscious choice to “set up my life” that way.

For longer trips or when my own legs can’t get me where I need to go, I take advantage of car-sharing (shout-out to Community CarShare), car rentals, carpooling, city and regional busses, taxis/ridesharing, etc. The money saved from not owning a car easily covers these costs.

 

How has living car free benefited you and others?

-More money in my pocket to spend (which also benefits our local economy)

-One less car on the road (decreased congestion, safer streets, lower emissions)

-Improved health/wellness from biking/walking (my employer also benefits as I rarely take a sick-day and show up fully-awake).

-Guilt-free eating to replace calories burned on the bike

-Riding bikes is addictive and so it’s also turned into a wonderfully rewarding recreational hobby.

 

Introducing: Kevin

How long have you lived car free?

Our family in Brampton has been free of car ownership for about 5 years.

 

What inspired you to ditch your car or remain car-free?

We started moving away from car ownership when my spouse and I sat down to discuss “the cost of going to work”. At the time, we realized that it cost less for me to take GO Transit to work than to pay for parking. We were able to shift priorities around, and sell the 2 cars we owned. It allowed my spouse to stay home with our kids, giving her the time and energy to be a more engaged parent, and us to forgo daycare costs.

 

How do you get around? (around town and longer road trips) How do you do this

in a Canadian winter?

It’s complete re-democratized how we get around. If we need to go somewhere together, we can cycle if it’s nearby, or take a cab or transit if it’s further away. My oldest child is old enough to take transit on her own now, and she knows how to get around Brampton better than her friends.

For a few years, we owned a cargo bike to help us move the kids when they were smaller, and for larger loads. Now, the kids are old enough now to carry small loads on their bikes, so they help with groceries!

 

How has living car free benefited you and others?

Not having a car has brought us closer together. I’m able to have a conversation with my kids while seated on transit or peddling to our destination.

We’ll probably get another cargo bike in a year or so. 🙂

 

eMERGE thanks Jordan and Kevin for their time, responses and for helping us make car-free day a little easier for the Guelph Community!

 

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Posted September 1, 2017

What do the most energy efficient homes look like? Well, a lot like your own.

Join eMERGE September 23rd to check out some of the most efficient houses in the city. Spanning the late 1800s to the early 90s, eMERGE has scoured the city for the best examples of how efficiency can mean cozy, comfortable and cost saving! It also means reducing your household environmental impact, on a road to 100% Renewable Energy in Guelph.

Come see these houses as owners will open up their homes to the community.

eMERGE Efficient Homes

September 23rd – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm

 

Here’s a taste of what you’ll see:

The Maitland Home – 36 Freshmeadow Way

When we think of efficient homes we think of insulation and sealing, of construction and renovation. While owners at 36 Freshmeadow Way included efficiency in the design plans of an extension, they are a prime example of how behaviour and habit might be the cheapest and most effective place to start reducing your household impact!

The Maitland home doesn’t boast fancy new electronic equipment. In fact their thermostat isn’t even programmable. But they do keep a keen eye on energy and water use. Opting for slippers and sweaters in the winter, owners keep their house temperature setting slightly lower, during the day, dropping it at night and when away.

In summer laundry is hung out back. In winter, laundry is hung in the basement. Seldom is the clothes dryer used, eliminating the electricity associated with one of the biggest energy using appliances in a house!

These good habits extend to behaviours through the day. From showers, to washing dishes, to lighting, owners use what’s needed to keep happy and comfortable at home.

While behaviour has been a key component to household utility use, this 1993, two story home has seen a handful of modest changes to go along with a well-planned extension. While improving insulation in household walls can be an expensive yet satisfying retrofit, when considering beefing up the walls during a household extension, the marginal added cost is insignificant to the benefit received.

The 250 square foot extension was considered with care, and a contractor who knew their stuff (Braden Homes). The addition included beefed up insulation in the surrounding walls and the addition of insulation in attic spaces. Insulation was included under the foundation for a noticeable difference on the feet between the new and old construction. Of course serious attention was also given to air sealing.

While being efficient with energy was one focus from homeowners, these avid gardeners also take water conservation seriously, boasting low flow toilets, fixtures and featuring a sizable cistern collecting water which eventually feeds a generous veggie garden out back.

Sustainable features include:

  • Upgraded wall insulation
  • Upgraded attic insulation
  • Insulation under concrete slab of house extension
  • Heat reflecting window shades
  • Low flow water fixtures
  • Rainwater harvesting cistern

The McAuley Home/Office – 360 Woolwich St.

At first blush this 1890s home seems to use more than its fair share of energy? What’s the deal eMERGE?

On further inspection this large 3,000 square foot home AND office uses 36% less energy per square foot than the typical Guelph residence. It also out-performs the latest energy star rated homes. Pretty impressive, right?

What makes this space so efficient is not fancy technology or brand new upgrades. Instead retrofits completed 30 years ago focused on sealing and insulation. The end result: a quiet, comfortable office space, with 30+ years of lower bills. That’s a lot of money saved!

Sustainable features include:

  • Solar hot water system
  • Improved Sealing
  • Upgraded insulation

 

The Carter House – 60 Manitoba St.

(Note: This home will be open to the public Sunday September 24th from 10 am to 4 pm – NOT September 23rd)

Everyone knows that a house built in the 1800s is drafty and cold, right? Well, it turns it can be quiet, comfortable and extremely energy efficient! Through improved insulation and sealing the homeowner put his expertise to work on this 1885 bungalow which now uses a quarter of the energy that an average house in Guelph does.

That’s not only money saved on energy costs, but makes for a comfy place to kick up your feet!

Why stop there? Not only is this home energy wise, it also uses 30% less water than the average home, with a greywater system installed to feed low flush toilets.

Sustainability features include:

  • Solar hot water system
  • Air-sourced heat pump for space heating and domestic hot water
  • Medium/high efficiency heat recovery ventilator
  • Straw bale wall insulation upgrade
  • Improved ceiling insulation
  • Improved sealing
  • Upgraded windows

 

Intrigued? Come see these homes September 23rd.

More details to come. Check back soon!

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Posted August 22, 2017

Do you want to do your part for mitigating climate change? Are you interested in seeing Guelph go 100% Renewable Energy?

eMERGE will be hosting a series of exciting, hands-on and interactive 100% Renewable Energy Guelph events beginning this fall. In order to pull this off, we need a diverse and talented group of environmental stewards, electric car enthusiasts and conservation mavens to lend a hand in spreading the 100% Renewable Energy message!

Specific volunteer opportunities include:

100% RE Events and Electric Car Show Team

100% RE Strategic Advisory Committee 

Fill out your eMERGE volunteer application today!

Volunteer Application

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Posted August 2, 2017

eMERGE Overshoot Day 2017 by aerin venema

To book your Home Tune-Up, click here!

To calculate your own overshoot day, click here.

Click here to find more pledges to make to reduce your footprint.

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Posted July 31, 2017

Are you cooking in an eco conscious kitchen? Here are a few tips to make sure your next meal time is environmentally friendly!

Shop Local And Low Waste 

Buy local produce from your towns farmers market and look for local produce at grocery stores and super markets. Take advantage of Ontario’s seasonal produce, and try to plan recipes based on whats in season. Click here for the Ontario food guide, that tells you what is in season. 

When grocery shopping, remember to bring reusable bags with you! Avoid products with excessive packaging, instead, opt for whole, unpackaged produce and food in recyclable containers. If you really want to go the extra mile, click here to find out how you can go completely waste free.

Cook With Energy Star

Use Energy Star efficient appliances. Fridges, ovens and dishwashers take up a large percentage of energy consumed in the home. Make sure you’re saving energy and money by cooking on up to date, Energy Star certified products.

Pro tip: Put food in the oven while its preheating, and turn off the oven about 10 minutes early, the residual heat will keep your meal roasting.

Eat Waste Free

Avoid using disposables when eating, for example; napkins, disposable plates and cutlery, straws and plastic water bottles. This all goes straight to the landfill, or uses excessive energy and water to produce and get to your table. 

Throw all food scraps into the green bin. This cuts household waste by up to 50%! Check out this list to see what can and can’t go in your green bin.

Clean Green

Ditch the paper towels when cleaning up. Instead, use rags and washable j-cloths. If your dishwasher can handle it, skip pre rinsing your dishes. Many new dishwashers are powerful enough to get any build up off your dish ware. Make sure your dishwasher is as full as possible before setting it off, use eco mode and skip the fan dry feature at the end. 

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Posted July 5, 2017

Do you want to be located in a high profile, downtown Guelph location? Look no further!

eMERGE is offering a collection of office spaces to sustainability minded individuals in our Old Quebec Street Mall location. Your business can be situated in our community oriented, co-working space! Not for-profits and for-profits welcome!

For rental inquiries, please contact eMERGE Guelph at: 519-763-2652 or email: evan@emergeguelph.ca.

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Posted July 4, 2017

In an age of rising energy bills, eMERGE Guelph is hunting for homes with low bills.

eMERGE’s second annual instalment of Green Energy Doors Open Guelph is just around the corner! eMERGE is looking for homeowners who have completed significant energy retrofits and are interested in sharing their stories with the community by opening their homes to the tour. 

The Colvin Home – 49 Caledonia Street, Guelph

eMERGE will be showcasing the most efficient homes in the city as part of this year’s Green Energy Doors Open Guelph. “Energy efficiency and conservation are key factors to reducing the pollution that causes climate change”  said Steve Yessie, eMERGE Home Tune-Up advisor. “We know that there are leaders in conservation out there and we want to showcase that it can be done – now”.

“It’s an opportunity for residents to share their energy achievements and passion for environmental sustainability with the city” added Yessie. Homeowners use many techniques to improve the efficiency of their homes, ranging from high tech solar photovoltaic systems and top of the line heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to more basic work, such as adding insulation and reducing drafts.

There are two homes in the works for this year’s event. One late 1800’s home with energy efficiency that exceeds modern builds, and a net-zero-ready home that demonstrates just how energy efficient new homes can get, even before solar panels.  

eMERGE will use utility bills and other information to evaluate the homes for their energy, water and money savings, as well as their reduced impact on the environment.

If you think your home could be one of the most energy efficient in Guelph, please contact Steve Yessie at eMERGE Guelph by phone: 519-763-2652 or email: steve@emergeguelph.ca.

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Posted June 29, 2017

The City of Guelph is celebrating Canada Day this year, by hosting a fun afternoon celebration at Market Square, themed “3 Things For Canada”. Guelphites are asked to commit to doing 3 things that will benefit Canada. The event has many fun activities planned, as well as an opportunity to make your “3 things” pledge, and receive a sweet treat in return!

At eMERGE, we decided to make your life easy and come up with a list of 3 things you can do today, to benefit Canada right now, and in the future.

Use Your Car Less & Lower Your Carbon Footprint!

Canadians are the largest energy consumers per capita in the world! Do your part to lower the harmful emissions associated, by using the most eco friendly mode of transportation out there… your legs! Pledge to walk, bike, hike or jog to work, to school or while running errands. If doing this daily is too difficult, start by pledging to leave your car at home at least one day per week!

 

Cut Down On Energy Use At Home

Pledge to keep your AC off unless its absolutely necessary. Check out our blog post on how to keep cool without an AC! Simply turning off your AC and cooling yourself with techniques that minimize energy use can save you money while reducing your impact on the environment. Want to do more? Book an eMERGE Home Tune-Up! We’ll show you how to save even more money and energy in your home, and we’ll install money saving retrofits on the spot!

 

Cut Down On Water Use At Home

Especially outdoors!  A lot of the energy used in Guelph goes to cleaning, pumping and supplying water to homes daily. As you know by now, energy = harmful emissions, so limit the amount of watering, washing and flushing you’re doing. If you have a lawn or garden that needs watering, invest in a rain barrel! They effortlessly collect rain water for you to use (and your plants will love it).

 

Follow us on twitter and share your pledges with us using #3thingsforCanada

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Posted June 9, 2017

With temperatures rising to over 30 degrees, this weekend is looking hot! We’ve curated a few of our favourite tips to help get you through the first heatwave of summer 2017!

Keep Your Cool in a Heatwave (1)

Keep Your Windows And Curtains Shut!

Only open windows when the temperature or humidity outside has dropped below that of your home. Keep your home cool and shaded by installing sturdy and light coloured curtains on windows facing the sun. This will reflect and block out intense heat and sunlight.

 

Install Awnings 

Install awnings over windows and doors, not those vinyl ones you see at your local pizza shop,

something more along the lines of this:

    awning 2

Wooden awnings block out sunlight in the summer months while the sun is high, but still allow sunlight to heat the home in the wintertime when the sun is lower in the sky.

 

Get Fans Up And Running 

Use stand fans and ceiling fans to cool yourself down, while keeping your AC off or on low. Remember; fans cool people down, not rooms, so turn them off when you leave the room.

 

Rethink That Turkey Dinner

Refrain from using large appliances that create excessive heat, like ovens, dishwashers, and dryers. Instead, use your BBQ to cook meals, and hang clothes to dry outside.

 

If You Have An Air Conditioner

follow these steps before you fire it up!

  • Make sure your AC filter is clean. The filter makes sure that the air circulating in your home is clean. Debris builds up on this filter, and can easily restrict airflow. Check out this link on how to replace your AC filter!
  • Make sure there is nothing in the way of the return air and supply vents on the floors and walls. There should be a two inch clearance around all vents in your home for optimum air flow.
  • Head outside and check your AC unit. Remove any plants, leaves or debris that could be obstructing the airflow of the unit.

 

Bonus tip!

Don’t be fooled, keeping your AC on while you’re away does not save energy! There’s a myth out there stating that it takes more energy to bring your home back down to a cool temperature, than it does to leave it running all day, and this is NOT true!

 

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Posted June 5, 2017

Happy World Environment Day! To celebrate, we’ve come up with a list of quick and easy things you can do today to save energy, keep money in your pocket, and reduce your footprint.

save energy

Unplug Appliances When Not In Use

Many appliances, including phone chargers and kitchen appliances, continue to use energy even when they aren’t in use! Save energy by unplugging all of your appliances after using them, or by purchasing an advanced power bar with a timer and auto-shutoff. (find coupons here)

 

Install A Programmable Thermostat

Save money and energy by installing a programmable thermostat to control heating and air conditioning. When combined with a good power plan, programmable thermostats can save between 10-30% of your energy bill by turning on only during off-peak times, and automatically shutting off when the desired temperature has been reached. (find coupons here

 

Replace All Bulbs With LEDs

Lighting in homes uses a substantial amount of energy, and inefficiently at that! A high percentage of electricity is wasted as heat and that can take money out of your pocket. Simply switching old and inefficient bulbs, for high efficiency, long lasting LED bulbs will save you energy and money! (find coupons here

 

Buy Local Food

Buying food grown and produced in Ontario saves a great deal of energy by reducing the distance it has to travel to get to your table. Purchasing local food also supplements Ontario’s economy by creating jobs and opportunities for local farmers and businesses – and it tastes great!

 

Book An eMERGE Home Tune-up!

Booking a Home Tune-up with eMERGE is the easiest and cheapest thing you can do to save money and energy in your home today! Simply sign up here for your free, one hour consultation. We provide on-the-spot retrofits, explain and compare gas and hydro bills and provide connections to money-saving incentives and rebates. We follow up by sending a customized Action Plan for increasing the efficiency of your home. It is a great way for you to save money and give back to your community through easy conservation!

 

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