Written by Denise Deby, who writes on local and global social, environmental and urban issues.
If you need some incentive to cut down on your energy consumption, or want to know how well the conservation measures you’ve put in place are working, you might want to check out SwitchHop. A local company, SeeWind, created a SwitchHop as a free service where people can find out when they’re using more or less power, and how their energy use compares to last month’s or last year’s. You sign up, connect your utility account, and see your energy use in real time. If you want, you and friends can even link up to compare household energy use (your friends won’t see details of your power consumption, just totals).
Going one step further, the community organization Sustainable Living Ottawa West (SLOWest) has partnered with SwitchHop to set up a friendly competition among neighbourhoods. If you live in Westboro, Hintonburg, the Civic Hospital area or one of the other participating areas, you can join up at https://switchhop.com/competition/, and help your community compete to see which can save the most energy until February 1. According to SLOWest, it’s a way for people to support each other to make small changes that can add up over time.
If you live in another part of town, you can still compare your energy savings to others—or even start your own competition.
As we head for cooler temperatures and shorter days, it’s also a great time to check out Envirocentre’s and Hydro Ottawa’s tips for saving on energy costs and consumption. If you want to find out how much electricity your computer, fridge and other appliances are using even when they’re turned off, you can even borrow a meter from the Ottawa Public Library using your library card.