Understanding our Personal Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

Here are some basic facts about energy and energy usage on a personal level as applied here in Ontario.

Definitions:

  • watt (W): Energy per second (“power”) used by an electrical device.
  • kilowatt (kW): 1000 watts.
  • To get the total energy used, multiply by the number of hours the device is on.
    • kilowatt-hour (kWh): Energy use in 1 hour. E.g. a 1-kW heater run for 2 hours uses an energy of 2 kWh.
    • Note: A high-power device, such as a kettle, does not use much energy if it is on for only a few minutes per day
  • 1 tonne = 1000 kg

Cost:

  • In Ontario, about 13 cents for 1 kWh of electrical energy.
    • (8.7 cts 7 PM-7 AM, 13.2 cts 11 AM-5 PM, 18.0 cts 7-11 AM & 5-7 PM).
  • Devices that cause heating/cooling use the most energy.
    • Example: a hair dryer uses 1500 W on hot and 70 W cold
  • GHG’s generated per kWh of electricity:
    • In Ontario, about 31 g CO2-equivalent, or 0.031 kg/kWh.

Examples of energy use:

  • An electrical heater needed to heat a single room is typically a 1 kW heater, as recorded on the plate on the heater. To run this for 1 h costs about 13 cents. To run continuously for a day requires 1 kW x 24 h = 24 kWh of energy. Cost 24 kWh x $0.13 per kWh = $3.12 per day, or $94 /month.
  • An incandescent light bulb Typically is 100 W = 0.1 kW. Cost to run per hour = 0.1 kWh x $0.13 per kWh = $0.01 = 1.3 cent. These bulbs are very inefficient for light production, with about 90% of the electrical energy lost as heat.
  • LED light bulb with same light output as a 100 W incandescent bulb requires about 10 W of power (LED) and last 40 x longer. They cost more to buy, but use much less energy and produce only about 10% of the GHG’s of the incandescents. Also, are cheaper over the lifetime of the bulbs. Buy LED bulbs rather than Compact Fluorescents (CFL): LED’s are 2x more efficient, and CFL’s contain mercury and so require special recycling. Go to “saveonenergy.ca” for discount coupons.
  • Sample Energuide LabelRefrigerators: Buy Energy Star appliances only. Check label inside for efficiency (see sample Energuide label on right). Cost to run this fridge per year, about 554 kWh x $0.13 = $72. Save more than $140/yr and 1,774 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions annually when you switch to an ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator from a model over 15 yrs old. By properly recycling your old refrigerator you can save another 10,509 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Washing machines: Today’s clothes washers are at least 68 percent more energy efficient than those produced in 1990. Typical Energy Star energy is 100 kWh/yr (GHG = 3.1 kg/yr). Washing on a warm cycle uses 10 times as much energy as a cold wash.
  • Computers: Desktop about 100 W + 30 W for LCD monitor; laptop about 40 W. Tablets much less. These are small compared to heating and lighting, IF you set your computer to auto-sleep after 10 minutes or so of inactivity.
  • House heating: (48% of GHG in Peterborough) Depends on your heat source. GHG in kg per kwh of heat: electric in Ontario 0.031 (will fall as more renewable energy used); heating oil 0.250, propane 0.215; natural gas (methane) 0.181; geothermal about 0.01 kg/kWh from electricity for the heat pump. If you switch from oil heat to gas you save twice: lower cost and 28% less GHG. Heat loss depends on (inside temp – outside temp). If 0oC outside and 20oC inside, turning thermostat down by 1oC saves 1/20 =5% of your heating cost for those conditions.
  • Eating beef: Livestock produce 14% of global GHG’s, of which cattle contribute about 65%. Cows (and sheep, goats) produce methane by burping. The average beef-eater is responsible for 0.35 tonnes of greenhouse gases (as CO2 equivalent) a year.
  • Transportation:
    • Car: GHG about 0.255 kg/km (1 kg GHG in 4 km!).
    • Buses/trains: much less GHG, because is shared among many.
    • Air travel: 1 transatlantic flight (return) generates your entire year’s per-capita allotment of GHG’s. Buy carbon offsets.
  • Low-income assistance to buy efficient appliances: 1-877-688-3089 or email HomeAssistance@summerhill.com

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

4RG NewslettersSubscribe to any of our newsletters

Subscribe to receive email notices and newsletters from chapters of 4RG or from the national organization. 

Subscribe
%d bloggers like this: