Green Commitments

green-recycle-img I like to think of myself as environmentally conscious and like to believe that I am doing what I can to reduce my impact. I feel like I have been going about it haphazardly though, making changes here or there where I see them, but ignoring those things that can make the biggest impact.

Juliette and I have been talking about this a lot lately and both of us would like to make bigger changes. We have decided to work towards cutting our energy usage in half, including electricity, heating and transportation. We have been working towards an unstated goal, but this week we decided to put some numbers to it and make a firm commitment. I think that stating your commitments publicly is the most effective way of accomplishing your goals, so here it goes…

An average European household consumes 4,667 kWh whereas the average US household consumes nearly three times as much, 11,209 kWh. In Canada, the average home that heats with gas uses 8,587 kWh of electricity per year and 3,294 m3 of natural gas. Canadian’s also use 233 m3 of water per person per year (638 litres per person per day.) Canadians use 329 litres of water per day per person (120 m3). Compare these numbers to an ultra high efficiency home that uses as little as 1,300 kWh of electricity per year.

I dug out all of my old utility bills on the weekend and entered them into a spreadsheet so that we could begin tracking our changes. This is what I found.


When we moved in, all of our appliances were old and inefficient. We were using 12,559 kWh of electricity per year, 146% of the Canadian average! We have already managed to reduce that to 93% of the Canadian average, but we would like to cut it to 50% of the Canadian average.

Heating/Hot Water

For heating/hot water, we would also like to get down to 50% of the Canadian average. Our usage has been dropping and we are currently at less than 73% of the Canadian average.

Water Usage

Despite my love of long showers, we currently use only 41% 80% of the Canadian average, but I would like to get that down to 50%. We just installed a dual flush toilet and have started using rain barrels for watering, so we’ll see how low that can go.


We have always been an average two car family. I have sold the van, am planning on selling the Civic and am committed to riding to work every day, summer and winter. Juliette is also planning on riding to work two or three times per week.


Based on what we found, we have the most work to do in electrical usage. We would like to get our yearly usage down to 4,250 kWh/yr. We are doing well in our natural gas usage, but I think we can do much better and get our usage down to 1,600 m3 per year. For water, I would like to try to get down to 140 m3 105 m3, but that may be hard since we have already made many changes in that area.


* For Comparison, natural gas was converted from m3 to kWh at 1 m3 = 10.8 kWh

For transportation, I commit to a one car lifestyle and using the car that we do have as little as possible. In my next post, I will go over what we have done already and some of the things we are planning on doing. Moving forward, I will report on our progress, so please hold us to our commitments.

Update: I was suspicious that we were doing so well on water consumption, so I did more research. I believe the original numbers I quoted included industrial use per capita, so I checked some government sites and found better numbers. I have updated this post accordingly.

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