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Actions you can take for the climate

Actions you can take to help limit climate change

Climate change is a complex challenge that can seem overwhelming.
The solutions don’t have to be.

Learn about more than 40 actions you can take to help limit global climate change. These actions have been evaluated using Calgary-specific greenhouse gas emissions data.

Actions are rated from 1 for good impact up to 5 for the greatest impact.

The more actions we commit to taking, the greater the impact we can have on climate change. Collectively, Calgarians are making a difference. What actions will you start taking today? Share your climate actions on social media: #fortheclimateyyc

Download a printable Climate Actions Checklist.

How to adapt to climate change

View a list of actions you can take to prepare for climate change. Visit How to Adapt to Climate Change.

Climate change - City of Calgary actions

See how the City of Calgary is working to improve energy management, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and manage risk for current and future climate impacts.

Visit City of Calgary - Climate Actions.


Adjust window coverings

Use window coverings to regulate the temperature in your home. In the summer, close window coverings to help keep your home cool. In the winter, open your south-facing window coverings to help keep your home warm.

Otherwise, keep the blinds and curtains closed and consider adding thermally-insulated window coverings or adding a thermal liner to your existing window coverings to help insulate your home.

Draft-proof your home

Making sure your home is sealed will add comfort and reduce heating bills. Take a close look at your windows, doors and skylights to detect gaps that may let air escape.

If you pass a burning candle in front of your window or closed door, a flickering flame may indicate an air leak. Fill cracks, seal gaps and strengthen joints around windows and doors with caulking to stop drafts from coming in.

For moveable parts of windows and doors, make sure to use weather stripping. If weather stripping around home and garage doors looks worn or tattered, it's time to replace it.

If your windows are old, use plastic window film (heat shrink film) in the winter to give them an insulation boost.

Program your thermostat

Reducing heat by 1°C (2°F) over an eight-hour period can save about two per cent on your heating energy consumption.

If you are away from home for more than three hours and when you are asleep, turn down the temperature to as low as 17°C (63°F). 

Use a fan for cooling

Using fans instead of air conditioning can reduce your home energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions, especially since you’re focusing your cooling efforts on the rooms occupied rather than the entire home. 

Drain water heat recovery

Up to 20 per cent of home energy consumption comes from water heating. Drain water heat recovery systems are an energy efficient technology that can reduce your water heater’s energy consumption by up to 25 per cent.

Tankless water heater

Tankless (on-demand) water heaters provide hot water when you need it.

Since there is no water storage tank, energy is not wasted by keeping water heated when you're not using it.

These units offer lower operating and energy costs as well as a longer lifespan.

Wash clothes in cold water

Washing with cold water can keep colours bright, reduces wrinkles, and saves energy.

There are laundry detergents specifically designed for cold-water washing.

Save even more energy by waiting for a full load before running your washing machine, and using the shortest wash cycle.

Hang clothes to dry

Hanging clothes to dry naturally outside on a line or inside on a rack is an easy way to avoid the costs of drying in a dryer, extend the life of your garments and avoid shrinkage.

The majority of the energy associated with a piece of clothing is spent in washing and drying it.

Use a toaster oven

A toaster oven uses about one-third to one-half less energy than a conventional electric oven for cooking small meals.

Try a toaster oven for your next small meal to save time, energy and money.

Install induction stove

Induction stoves are the most efficient stovetop cooking method and keep your kitchen cooler while you’re cooking.

Install low flow shower heads

A low flow shower head can reduce water consumption by 50 per cent, and thereby reduce the energy required to heat that water.

Install faucet aerators

Faucet aerators limit the flow of water going through a faucet by delivering a mixture of air and water, so that less water is used.

Faucet aerators are inexpensive and can be screwed on to any faucet head. 

Leave grass clippings on the lawn

Grasscycling means leaving clippings on the lawn after mowing, which returns nutrients to the soil, reduces watering demands and eliminates the number of trips to the landfill . To learn more, visit Grasscycling.

Use a solar or push mower

By switching to a solar or push mower, you'll reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions created to keep your lawn trimmed.

Use a french press

Typical automatic drip coffee makers use more energy to brew coffee, and warming cycles can last up to an hour or more.

Use an electric kettle to boil water for a French press to save time and energy.

Change to LED lightbulbs

LED light bulbs use 70 to 90 per cent less energy than a standard bulb. Turn lights off in rooms that are unoccupied to save more energy.

ENERGY STAR appliances

Using the most efficient appliances will reduce your energy demands.

Compared to standard models, ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators use 10 per cent less energy, dishwashers use 12 per cent less energy and 30 per cent less water, washing machines use 25 per cent less energyand 33 per cent less water, and clothes dryers use 20 per cent less energy. 

High efficiency furnace

Replacing an older furnace with a high efficiency furnace will reduce your home heating costs and energy consumption.

Choose a furnace with a 95 to 98 per cent annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating.

Geothermal exchange system

Geothermal heating and cooling has the potential to reduce heating costs by 50 per cent or more, and adds to home comfort.

Geothermal exchange systems draw heat or cold from the earth using a series of pipes placed underground. The temperature below the frost line in the ground is warmer than the outside air in the winter and cooler in summer.

During the winter, geothermal exchange systems distribute the heat through the house, while in summer they work in reverse, circulating cooler air from the earth through the house, and returning the heat to the ground.

These systems may also provide water heating. Powering these systems using solar would have even greater energy savings potential.

Add insulation to roof

Prevent heat from escaping your home by increasing the R-Value (R40 or higher) of your attic or roof's insulation. 

Insulate basement

Uninsulated basements can allow up to 30 per cent of your home’s heat to escape, decrease home comfort, contribute to poor air quality and increase energy bills.

Prior to insulating your basement, ensure you seal drafts.

Add insulation to walls

Poorly insulated walls can allow 10 to 30 per cent of your home’s heating energy to escape.

Adding insulation to your building envelope willincrease home comfort and decrease energy bills.

Energy efficient windows

Installing energy efficient windows will increase the comfort of your home, lower heating and cooling costs, decrease energy use and improve overall performance.

Choose triple-paned low-e argon filled glazing with vinyl or fiberglass casings, and a U-Value of 1.25 or less.

Install solar energy

Generating your own local renewable energy can give you energy independence, free you of monthly utility bills, help limit global climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and add value to your home.

Calgary is ideally situated to take advantage of solar power. Learn more at calgary.ca/solar.

Retrofit building envelope

A well-sealed and insulated building envelope with energy efficient windows, doors and skylights will help regulate the temperature within your home, add to your comfort, and reduce heating and cooling costs.

Prior to insulating your home, be sure to block water vapour and prevent drafts with caulking and weather stripping. Choose triple-paned low-e argon filled glazing with vinyl or fiberglass casings, and a U-Value of 1.25 or less. 

Buy Renewable Power

A well-sealed and insulated building envelope with energy efficient windows, doors and skylights will help regulate the temperature within your home, add to your comfort, and reduce heating and cooling costs.

Prior to insulating your home, be sure to block water vapour and prevent drafts with caulking and weather stripping. Choose triple-paned low-e argon filled glazing with vinyl or fiberglass casings, and a U-Value of 1.25 or less. 

Do not idle vehicle

Idling releases greenhouse gases into the air unnecessarily, reduces air quality, has negative health consequences and wastes fuel.

Idling in the winter has no benefit to modern vehicles. Auto mechanics recommend reducing the time to warm your vehicle to 30 to 60 seconds, just enough time to defrost the windows. Vehicles warm up faster and more efficiently while driving.

Carpool or carshare

Carshare services and carpooling can help ease congestion, give you a break from driving, help limit global climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and save you money from operating, parking, insurance and maintenance costs.

Try sharing your ride next time you go to the mountains, work or school.

Keep vehicle maintained

Keeping your car tuned will improve fuel efficiency. Get regular tune-ups, including replacing air, oil and fuel filters when necessary, and making sure your tires are well inflated.

Driving smart will also improve fuel efficiency. Avoid using air conditioning, accelerate gently, maintain a steady speed, avoid high speeds and coast to decelerate.

Drive an electric vehicle

Choosing an electric vehicle can help limit global climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and save you money on maintenance, fuel and potentially on insurance premiums as well. 

Take public transit

Public transit reduces congestion, is more budget-friendly, reduces air pollution, helps to limit global climate change, reduces traffic noise and can be a less stressful way to commute, freeing up time to read or enjoy other activities while commuting.

Bike or walk

Active transportation has many benefits including reducing air pollution, increasing mental and physical health, avoiding vehicle maintenance and fuel costs, and limiting global climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The City of Calgary and community partners have many resources such pathway and bikeway maps and winter bike workshops.

Telecommute

A flexible working arrangement that allows you to work from home can increase to your work-life balance, save time by eliminating your commute and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with commuting.

Grow your own food

Growing some of your own food reduces the transportation emissions associated with food production, and it has many co-benefits such as the mental and physical benefits of gardening, enjoying fresh, homegrown produce and building community. 

Buy local

Buying in season and local food, along with other local products and goods not only supports local farmers, producers and the local economy, there are other benefits such as enjoying fresh food, and reducing the transportation emissions associated with the products you buy.

Turn off computer and monitor

Turning your computer and monitor off at the end of each day saves energy.

Try these other office energy hacks:

  • Reduce your monitor’s brightness to 70 per cent
  • Program your computer, monitor and other office equipment to power down when not in use
  • Activate the power management features on your computer and monitor
  • Plugging everything into a power bar to shut everything down at once
  • Choose ENERGY STAR certified office equipment.

Reusable bottles and mugs

Switching to a reusable water bottle and coffee mug eliminates the raw materials and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and transportation of single-use plastic or paper bottles and cups, as well as the energy and land use required to dispose of or recycle these items.

Take this action further andreduce consumption in other areas of your life.

Vegetarian or vegan diet

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends reducing meat consumption to limit global climate change.

The most recent guidance from Health Canada recommends consuming plant-based proteins more often. Plant-based diets require less energy, land and water inputs.

Vacation locally

Flying is a high impact mode of transportation. Considering alternate modes of transportation and local destinations will help limit global climate change.

Planning a local vacation can also save you money, and support local businesses.

Live close to work and play

Choosing to live within a comfortable distance to walk, bike or take transit to the places you go to most often (work, school, play) greatly reduces the environmental impacts of your daily living, increases work-life balance, and can add to physical and mental health.