The New Carbon Tax Can Mean A Greener 2017
By Terri Chu
Christmas came a little late for me this year. I woke up New Year’s Day and looked out the window at the gas station sign. The ever slightly higher gas price was a pleasant reminder of the new carbon tax that Ontarians are now paying and I couldn’t be happier. Natural gas will be impacted about 7 cents a cubic meter and gasoline about 4 cents a litre.
This is truly a great day for our children. It’s a small but important step in the right direction.
Until we see carbon tax around the $60-$70 a ton mark, we likely won’t see a big uptake in alternative fuels, particularly in the corporate sector where the bottom line is king. Polluting is still too cheap relatively. However, having a tax infrastructure in place is a hugely important step to getting there. Price signals are one of the most important things we can do in a capitalist economy.
Rather than complaining about the marginal increase in costs, here are a few things we can do to lower our carbon footprint and reduce those pesky taxes we have to pay.
1) Turn down the thermostat:
Older homes are notoriously not airtight. If you are doing a renovation, make sure you get your home well insulated (spray foam is my preference). Short of that, anything you can do to stop draughts is a good stopgap until you do decide to renovate. In the meantime, keep the thermostat down and throw on an extra sweater. Ambient room temperatures have steadily risen over the last century as heating became easier, cheaper, and more efficient. We really don’t need to keep it as warm as most of us do. A friend of mine keeps her electrically heated home at a brisk 14C.
At 7 cents tax/m3 of natural gas, turning down the thermostat will save you money in 2017.
2) Drive slower:
If you have a lead foot like I do, you are burning gas unnecessarily. For most cars, fuel efficiency kicks in at around 80 km/h. Taking the 401 at 120 km/h burns a lot more gas than you really need to. You would do well by accelerating gently and keeping the tire pressure up too. If you can though, ditching the car altogether is your best bet. Our family hasn't looked back since we did this nearly nine years ago.
3) Take shorter showers
Most of us use natural gas for heating domestic hot water. The shower will start to cost a few cents more with the tax so this is the time to implement self-discipline when enjoying the beautiful warmth wash all over us. For anyone doing a major renovation that can include plumbing work, this is a good time to consider heat recovery systems for showering as well. Rather than going directly out to the sewer, your already warm shower water pre-warms the cold water going up to you so you need less hot water by the time it gets to the mixer.
I wish everyone a happy 2017 and I hope we can all embrace these price signals as opportunities to practice greener habits ourselves. May this be the year we start taking real action to slow down the extinction of the human race.