A Red Deer family is one of five households from across Canada taking on the challenge to reduce their carbon emissions at home and inspire others to do the same.
Ania and Kit Richmond and their two young children are participating in Live Net Zero, launched by Canadian Geographic, which will follow the households as they compete in challenges to drastically reduce their emissions and try to live a net-zero lifestyle.
Each household received $10,000 to help reduce their carbon footprint and they will face bi-weekly challenges, starting Sept. 19 and running until Nov. 27.
Each challenge will help the families identify their greatest sources of carbon emissions, prioritize retrofits and educate them on behavioral changes that can reduce emissions. Based on the challenges, the winning family will receive an electric vehicle as a grand prize.
Ania said net-zero living is a value system that her family wants to live and make real.
The family built Alberta’s first certified passive house in Calgary in 2016 which was designed to consume up to 90 per cent less energy for heating and cooling than a traditional house.
Since moving to Red Deer about three years ago, they are taking what they learned and applying it to their new home and modifying their lifestyle to reduce their carbon footprint.
“There are things that we can do to improve how we live, what we do, the way we commute, etc. We’re just kind of excited to have the opportunity to play with it a bit further,” said Ania about Live Net Zero.
She said Live Net Zero will be a journey of learning for her family and others.
“We appreciate that taking this on is a bit daunting at times. We are going to learn through each other, from each other, as we go through this process and share that learning. We’re inviting the whole Red Deer community to come follow us and help us out.”
Recommendations for appliances or LED lighting stores, for example, would be welcome, she said.
The family’s plans also include electrification of their hot water system, replacing two natural gas hot water heaters, replacing the natural gas furnace with an electric heat pump, and installing solar panels on a large roof area to power the hot water tanks and heat pump.
“We need to think of our house as a system. It’s not just one thing. It’s actually how several components in the house interact together to equal an efficient model of a house,” Ania said.
Other households competing in the Live Net Zero challenge include: the Loewen-Nair family of London, Ont.; the Pistor family, of New Westminster, BC; the Leung family, of Vancouver; and the Lai family, of Stouffville, Ont.
Each household will document their efforts and use social media to share their journeys to inspire and teach fellow Canadians what they can do within their own households to reduce energy consumption, shrink their carbon footprint, and lower their spending on energy.
With more than 25 per cent of the country’s carbon emissions coming from household energy use, achieving Canada’s aggressive climate change target will require us all to start making carbon reductions at the household level, says Canadian Geographic.
“Getting Canada to net-zero will be a huge challenge for us all, and that’s why we’ve created this challenge. It is designed to help participating families significantly lower their household’s carbon footprint while inspiring fellow Canadians to join the journey to net-zero,” said Aran O’Carroll, Canadian Geographic’s national director of government relations and environment, in a statement.
For more information and links to follow the households on their journeys to live net zero visit www.canadiangeographic.ca/live-net-zero.
Financial supporters of the Live Net Zero program include partners like Shell, Scotiabank, and Hydro One.
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