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frequently asked questions
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Does changing light bulbs actually make a difference?

What is the simplest change I can make in my home?

What impact does my driving really make?

How much money could my family save if we got rid of one car in our household?

I am looking to build a new house and most of the advice is for older homes. what is the best way to reduce carbon? in new construction and has the lowest environmental impact? what would be the next alternatives in order?

I was curious about the topic of unplugging appliances and how much energy it saves. Should we unplug everything? Like lamps and chargers? Or just the bigger ones? How much energy can be saved? Thanks!

<P>Part 1 of the question: A vehicle waits with engine running in a drive-through line-up (at Tim Hortons let's say...) for an average of 5 minutes.</P> <P editor_id="mce_editor_0">Part 2 of the question: Same vehicle turns their motor off for 5 minutes. Question: What is the advantage to the air quality and your car, to turn it off for 5 minutes? Or, what would be the benefit if 1000 cars parked for 5 minutes instead of ran their engines?</P> <P editor_id="mce_editor_0">Thanks, Darlene</P>

Overall which is more cost effective : heating your home by natural gas or oil?

My husband (was a mechanic overseas) claims that not warming your car up damages the engine as the oil needs to get all through all the parts as they warm up. I tell him the planet is more important but does he have a point or not?<BR><BR>Thank you.

I am looking into solar heating for hot water for our home, and/or solar photovoltaic panels. Do you have any recommendations?

We are replacing all our single pane windows with Energy Star windows (17 windows in total).&nbsp; What type of Grants are available and &nbsp;how do we apply?

I what to buy a gas powered scooter but there are some Questions I whated to ask you first. Is high octane gas (90 +) just preium gas and can I use any two stroke air cooled oil?<BR><BR><BR>Thanks Hayden

Our strata is attempting to create a bylaw limiting the length of time that cars can idle in our underground parkade and the outside parking stalls adjacent to bedrooms--what is a reasonable time that they could be allowed to idle their cars, esp. in the mornings/winter?

Is there a way for city low-rise or high-rises to have a compost recycling program? (ie: someone to pick up fruit and veggie peels?)

How does one dispose of household toxic waste (i.e. automobile coolant)?

What are the pros / cons of Nuclear Power?

Rather than replacing my fridge altogether (it's too expensive), how can I make it more energy efficient?

How/why is wasting water also a waste of energy? (What's the connection?)

Isn't a screen saver for your computer also an energy saver (i.e. as good as turning it off)?

What is biodiesel and how does it differ from regular fuels (e.g. diesel or gasoline) in terms of greenhouse gas emissions?

Can you please tell us, once and for all, which is better: paper or plastic bags? I know that reuseable cloth bags are the ideal choice, but I usually find myself stopping by the store after work and forgetting to have the cloth bags on me. Thanks!

I keep hearing mixed information about washing dishes by hand vs. using a dishwasher. Which saves more energy?

I have always thought that motorcycles and scooters are very "environmentally friendly" because they use such little gas. Is this correct?

What can do to make my car more energy efficient (without having to buy a newer one)?

I was curious about the topic of unplugging appliances and how much energy it saves. Should we unplug everything? Like lamps and chargers? Or just the bigger ones? How much energy can be saved? Thanks!

Thanks for asking the question on unplugging appliances. It is actually a very hot topic as utilities are just realising how much power goes to this rather unnecessary loss of power. When looking at just one home, the energy savings are relatively small but become significant if a large percentage of the population participates. The primary source of this "phantom power loss" is stereo equipment, computer equipment and chargers--and by putting them on a power bar (that you turn off at a flick of switch) is the easiest way to eliminate the losses.

Although there are many varying estimates of how much energy these phantom losses are, one sample reference is the website Although it states energy use in terms of U.S. energy costs and includes things like air conditioning, it does provide a sample view of the approximate energy savings available (compared to other potential actions you could take) and provides some interesting background information. To provide a local context, 75% of the typical energy used in B.C. homes goes to heating and hot water; there is often a bigger opportunity for savings by setting back your thermostats a few degrees, using low-flow spray heads, using ENERGY STAR appliances or washing with cold water.  (You can get some other energy savings ideas at

The Vancouver community is working hard to reduce greenhouse gases and questions like yours demonstrate an interest in saving energy and helping the environment at the same time. Thanks for taking the time to investigate.