Hydro One coupons

I received a coupon book the other day that was sent by Hydro One, and is sponsored by the Ontario Power Authority, to allow homeowners to invest in energy conservation devices. It was addressed to Glen, so of course I had to read it.
It has a few tips that are useful. It is very city centric, and summer oriented, focussed on air conditioning. It suggests simple things like closing blinds to keep the sun out, cleaning filters in air conditioners, plant trees for shade, and turning up the temperature on the air conditioner.

On the Bruce Peninsula, almost nobody bothers with home air conditioners, although businesses use them. The Lakes moderate the temperature, and a good swim in the Lake, especially at this time of year, is enough to cool anyone down. I’m one of those who doesn’t have an air conditioner.

It has coupons for compact fluorescent light bulbs (2 maximum), ceiling fans, programmable thermostats, air conditioning tune-ups, indoor/outdoor timers, and a whopping $500 to upgrade your central air to a new more efficient Energy Star model. Once again, it focusses on air conditioning.

It seems to me to be missing a lot of other options. Clothelines are cheap, and they work. Indoor drying racks work too. Insulation, air sealing and windows matter. Hot water is 20% of the energy consumption of the average house, and solar thermal hot water heaters can provide 50% of your hot water. More and more people are investing in photovoltaic panels, or small wind systems. A bounty on old refrigerators, which consume 2-3 times the power of new energy efficient model while ensuring the old fridge isn’t moved to the basement would seem to be a smart idea. Ground source heat pumps provide 3-4 kW’s of heat for every kW of power consumed, and are 5-6 times as efficient as conventional air conditioners.
What can I use out of the book? The light bulb coupon. So I will save $5. Of course I long since switched most of my bulbs to energy efficient models, but it might cause me to look into finding some candella style bulbs, with the smaller socket, as I have a few fixtures that use those. I have been meaning to do that for awhile.
It seems to me that the book misses the mark for rural Ontario. Like much of Ontario’s countryside, there is no natural gas north of Wiarton. That means people use electric hot water, and many people have electric heat. At today’s high prices for propane and oil, switching off our cheap electricity makes little financial sense. And the air conditioning load outside of the cities is much lower, because it doesn’t get as hot, so less people have air conditioning.

I was at a BPEG tonight and I spoke to Bob. Bob has made a substantial investment in a small 1 KW wind turbine, and several solar panels. He was incensed that these were not included. So he jumped on his motor cycle, and drove to the MP’s office, and the MPP’s office to let them know of his concern. It didn’t help that he had just read about the $500 million in taxpayer’s money that had just been given to AECL to decomission Chalk River. While driving to the politician’s offices to deliver a message may seem to be a bit extreme, you know, Bob is right. Why do we offer subsidies to the nuclear business and nothing to someone who invests their own dollars to produce power? And it was a nice day for a drive.
I am glad to see the Power Authority and Hydro One taking some steps towards encouraging conservation and efficiency. But they need to differentiate their efforts between rural and urban Ontario. And they need to broaden their efforts to include other conservation methods, and self generation of electricity and heat.

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