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Red Deer family explores energy options during Live Net Zero challenge

‘The hardest part is the first step’
The Richmond family of Red Deer was invited to speak to Mayor Ken Johnston about the Live Net Zero challenge. One of Ania and Kit Richmond’s two sons, and Kit, had their photo taken with Johnston. (Photo contributed)

Red Deer’s Live Net Zero family has learned to take time to really think about their transportation, appliance and household needs before reviewing energy-efficient options.

Ania Richmond, whose family is one of five across Canada participating in Live Net Zero, said the contest’s challenges to reduce their carbon footprint definitely involves making a lot of decisions.

“I’ve become a very good decision-maker,” laughed Richmond.

Launched by Canadian Geographic, the households compete in bi-weekly challenges to drastically reduce their emissions and try to live a net-zero lifestyle.

Each household received $10,000 to help them with the challenges that began Sept. 19 and run until Nov. 27.

Each challenge helps the families identify their greatest sources of carbon emissions, prioritize retrofits and educate themselves on behavioral changes that can reduce emissions. Based on the challenges, the winning family will receive an electric vehicle as a grand prize.

The Richmonds are posting about their journey at and


Red Deer family takes up challenge to slash their carbon emissions

Richmond said the families involved in the competition have been working collaboratively, learning from each other and cheering on each other’s achievements. Red Deer residents also find it helpful.

“People are watching and observing and a lot of people are really interested. For them, the hardest part is the first step. Where do I start? It feels so daunting, but I’d like to do something.”

She said people realize they do have a role to play in reducing carbon emissions.

“If there are ways that we can work at an individual level that helps influence what happens at a community, provincial, national level — why not participate in that.”

The first challenge looked at reducing carbon emissions from transportation.

She said the family realized more than 60 per cent of their commuting is with their gas-powered SUV and a hybrid car. Now they are looking at buying an e-cargo bike, reducing their SUV use, and eventually getting a hybrid SUV and electric vehicle.

“Gas trucks have a place. There is a need for them when you work in a certain industry, when you need to transport certain things, or if you’re going out to rural Alberta or northern Alberta where we don’t have charging stations.”

It’s about getting the most energy-efficient match to fill a need, she said.

Another challenge looked at electricity use.

Richmond said phantom electricity use from appliances that are not in use but plugged in doesn’t amount to much energy for each resident, but add it up for 100,000 homes and it’s huge. Energy efficient appliances, like induction stoves, or ventless dryers can also make a big difference.

“Dryers will take up as much electricity, if not more, than a fridge and a fridge is on 24 hours a day doing a job.”


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She said rather than a costly project to insulate the exterior cladding of their older home, they are looking at smaller projects like insulating the attic over their attached garage for the home envelope challenge.

“That’s just basically a huge collection vessel for cold air in the winter that pushes itself into the house. Insulating that attic is the biggest bang for our buck.”

A better insulated garage door also helps. Quality products last longer so there are less production emissions and manufacturing waste, she said.

“Bringing that quality of product into your house, I think brings along with it a quality of life too.”

For more information and links to follow the households on their journeys to live net zero visit

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