By 2030, the Town of Canmore seeks to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions from all sources by 30% below 2015 levels. We seek to reduce community emissions by 80% by 2050.
things you can do to conserve energy
Phantom power: Devices such as laptop computers, TVs, video game machines and many other electronics continue to draw power, even when they’re not in use. Completely unplug them, or connect multiple devices into a power bar and turn them all off at once. ‘Smart’ power bars that automatically limit power use by unused devices are also now available from many electronics retailers.
Computers and accessories: Check the built-in settings for a power or energy saver option. These settings will help save energy by reducing screen brightness, going into sleep or hibernation mode when not in use, and limiting background processes and apps. Be sure to shut off computers when they’re not in use for extended periods of time. Keep accessories like printers or scanners turned off until you need them.
Lighting: Energy efficient LED bulbs use as much as 85% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. A standard 60 watt incandescent light lasts for about 1,000 hours, while new, high quality 9 watt LED bulbs have lifespans of up to 25,000 hours.
Drying clothes: Dryers are one of the largest consumers of electricity in your home. Use a drying rack whenever possible, or make sure to run the dryer with a full load (but be careful not to overfill the dryer, as this limits air flow and drying effectiveness). Be sure to clean the lint filter between loads. Restricted airflow will decrease the dryer’s effectiveness and is a serious fire hazard!
Refrigerator/Freezer: Clean refrigerator coils twice per year. Dirty coils will decrease the efficiency of the appliance and reduce its lifespan. Avoid cold air leaks by checking that the door seal is working properly, and replace it if it’s damaged or worn.
ENERGY STAR®: If you’re replacing old appliances, be sure to check for the ENERGY STAR® symbol. It identifies top energy performers that will provide long-term energy and cost savings.
Measuring electrical consumption: Drop by the Biosphere Institute and borrow a Kill-A-Watt meter. This handy tool will record the electricity consumption of any device with a standard 120V wall plug. These meters are also a great way to check devices that are turned off or on standby for phantom power loss.
#2: water and water heating
Washing clothes: Run washing machines with full loads and use cold water for washing and rinsing instead of warm or hot water. Washing clothes in cold water is one of the most effective ways to reduce your water heating bill.
Water heaters: Insulate hot water pipes (within 2-3m of the hot water tank), and installing a hot water tank insulating blanket.
Hot Water Tank: When it’s time to replace your hot water tank, consider purchasing a higher efficiency ENERGY STAR® tank, or a tankless (on-demand) hot water heater. For even greater energy savings, install a solar water heater. Solar systems can provide up to 60% of the hot water for an average home.
Going away for a few days or an extended period of time? Use the ‘Vacation’ setting on your water heater to lower the water temperature in the hot water tank.
#3: space heating and cooling
Thermostat: Install a programmable or smart thermostat. Turn down the thermostat a degree or two, put on a sweater or snuggle up and still be comfortable.
Furnace: Keep your furnace running efficiently. Oil furnaces need an annual tune-up and gas furnaces should be tuned up once every two years. Change the air filters every few months (or when dirty) to keep the air flowing properly.
Air conditioning: Air conditioning is a big consumer of electricity. In this mountain climate many people do not have air conditioning. Summer daytime temperatures can be quite warm, but in the evening temperatures drop rapidly. Instead of air conditioning, try using a fan to circulate air in your home, open windows in the mornings and evenings, and keep windows, blinds and curtains closed during hot days.
Passive heating and cooling: In the summer, open windows and close blinds during the day to keep your house cooler. In the winter, open blinds during the day to allow the sun in, helping heat your home, and then close them up in the evening to help retain the heat.
Windows and doors: Take stock of the windows and glass doors in your home noting storm windows, single-, double-, triple-pane or low emissivity windows, drapes (insulated or not) and shades or blinds. If needed, have a window installer put in windows with an Energy Star® rating, or insulate your own windows with drapes, shades and/or blinds. Check the condition of any weather stripping or caulking and replace it if needed.
Home energy audits: Find an energy auditor in the Bow Valley. A professional energy auditor has the expertise and equipment to identify the areas where your home is leaking or missing insulation.
Zoned heating: Consider zoned heating if you are replacing an older system. With zoned heating, the homeowner can use multiple programmable thermostats to specify different temperatures in different zones of the home. Such a system offers comfort benefits as well as money and energy savings. Zoned heating is estimated to reduce the average household’s annual electricity consumption by up to 30 per cent.
Energy Efficiency Alberta (EEA) is a provincial agency that helps Albertans save money and energy.
home energy plan
As of January 2019, EEA is offering incentives and rebates to help you create a Home Energy Plan. The first step is to have a qualified energy advisor conduct an EnerGuide Home Energy Evaluation and give you a report showing what to do to achieve the best energy savings in your home. EEA is offering a $300 rebate for the evaluation. By completing recommended upgrades you will then be eligible for additional rebates, and if you complete three or more upgrades you’ll receive a $1,000 bonus rebate. Full details of the program and the steps to follow are available from the EEA website.
Online Energy Rebates
Are you ready to replace an old appliance or furnace? As of January 2019, EAA is offering online rebates of $75 for the purchase of any eligible energy-efficient refrigerator, clothes washer, smart thermostat, or furnace with high efficiency motor (ECM). Be sure to check the list of qualifying brands and models to confirm eligibility for the rebate:
Refrigerators: An old fridge is one of the biggest electricity users in the home. A high efficiency model will use up to 30% less energy and could save you more than $70 a year in electricity costs.
Clothes Washers: Purchase a high-efficiency clothes washer and you could save thousands of litres of water every year and an average of $40 a year on energy costs.
Smart Thermostats: Optimize the use of your furnace, saving money and energy by always keeping your home an ideal temperature. Many models can also link to your smart phone, allowing you to monitor your home’s temperature and change the thermostat remotely.
Furnace with high efficiency motor (ECM): Upgrading to a furnace with an ECM can help you save up to 15% of your current electricity use.
Home Improvement Rebates
You can work with a participating Alberta contractor to increase your home’s energy efficiency with items such as improved insulation, upgraded windows and tankless water heaters. Visit EEA’s website for a full list of rebates and qualified contractors. As of January 2019, rebates include:
Drain Water Heat Recovery: save up to $500
Insulation: save up to $3500
Windows: save up to $1500
Tankless Hot Water Heater: save up to $1000
Are you interested in purchasing and installing a solar electric system? Both the Town of Canmore and Energy Efficiency Alberta offer significant incentives for residents or businesses wishing to install a solar electric system.
For residential installations, Energy Efficiency Alberta’s Residential and Commercial Solar Program provides a $0.90/watt incentive (the maximum grant is the lesser of 35% of eligible costs or $10,000). The Commercial program offers a $0.75/watt incentive with a maximum grant that is the lesser of 35% of the eligible costs or $1,000,000. Incentives for qualified non-profits are also available. Visit the EEA website for full details and information about how to apply to the program.
Provincial, federal, and international regulations
Canmore’s greenhouse gas reduction goals are set in a broader context of provincial, federal, and international regulations and emissions reduction plans. The Town’s Climate Action Plan is closely aligned with these broader societal goals.
Provincial context: Alberta’s 2015 Climate Leadership Plan includes key actions such as putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions, phasing out coal-generated electricity, promoting energy efficiency, limiting emissions from the oil and gas sector, and further developing renewable energy sources. In 2017 the Government of Alberta introduced a carbon levy that places a province-wide price on greenhouse gas emissions, and includes a program of investments to support a transition to a lower carbon economy. To help residents and businesses achieve this transition, the Government of Alberta created Energy Efficiency Alberta. This agency offers energy savings programs, rebates for energy efficient products and home improvements, solar incentives, and more. Learn about these programs and available incentives from the EEA website.
Federal and International context: The Government of Canada signed onto the international Paris Agreement in 2016, joining over 180 other nations and the European Union in agreeing to emissions reductions that would limit predicted average global temperature increases to less than 1.5°C. Canada has set targets for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, and an 80% reduction by 2050.
Where Does Our Energy Come From?
Historically, Alberta generated the majority of its electricity from coal-fired power plants. Over the past two decades, the use of coal has declined, primarily due to increased use of natural gas. The use of renewable sources such as wind, hydro, and biomass (e.g waste wood products) has also increased. As of 2016, 47% of the electricity in Alberta was generated by coal-fired power plants, with an additional 40% coming from natural gas. The remaining 13% was generated from renewable sources, primarily wind. As part of its Climate Leadership Plan, the Government of Alberta has committed to phasing out coal power by 2030. Learn more about energy production in Alberta from the National Energy Board.
The Energy Market: Electricity & Natural Gas
Electricity and natural gas service in Canmore is provided by two regulated rate providers and over 30 competitive retailers. Some providers offer only electrical or only natural gas service, while others offer both to consumers. Regulated rates are reviewed and approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission and may change on a month to month basis. Competitive retailers offer a contracted price (either variable or fixed rates) to consumers, and the prices may vary by individual retailer. A detailed description of Alberta’s electricity and natural gas markets, along with a full listing of regulated and competitive retailers are available from the Alberta Utilities Consumer Advocate.
Alternative Energy and Micro-Generation
A growing number of homes, businesses, and municipal buildings in Canmore are generating their own energy. Solar thermal, solar electric, and geothermal energy production are all currently in use in Canmore.
Solar power systems capture energy from the sun and convert it to heat (solar thermal) or electricity (photovoltaic or PV). To date, 34 residential solar electric systems have been installed in Canmore as part of the municipal Solar Incentive Program. There are additional solar systems installed on private residences by homeowners outside of the incentive program. Solar electric and thermal systems are also installed on several municipal buildings in Canmore including the Civic Centre, Waste Management Centre, Elevation Place, Recreation Centre and the Senior's Centre (home of the Biosphere Institute!).
Geothermal energy uses heat from the Earth’s interior for heating buildings or electricity generation. Spring Creek Mountain Village, a residential and commercial development in Canmore, has a geothermal heating and cooling system that eliminates over 600 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
Hydro Power in Canmore
For more than a century, dams and hydro facilities in the Bow River watershed have been capturing the power of the water as it makes its rapid descent from the mountains to the prairies. Operated by TransAlta, there are 11 hydro plants located in the Bow River watershed. Three of these facilities are located in Canmore (Rundle Plant, Spray Plant and Three Sisters Plant). The electricity generated by these hydro plants is fed into the electrical grid and used by customers in the Bow Valley, Calgary, and across Alberta.
Thanks to Christopher Vincent, Jim Ridley, Christian Dubois, Charlie Bredo and the Town of Canmore for their help in preparing these materials.