Our World: BMO Sustainability Gallery

Delve into how your choices create a sustainable future by exploring electricity, water consumption and waste. Learn how our everyday decisions can affect the world around us. Be sure to take a run on our kinetic wheel and try your hand at shooting water wisely.

Want to learn more about sustainable electricity options? Check out our electricity mini-site created to complement the electricity exhibit in the Our World gallery.

Our World Blog

'Tis the season to be... energy conscious?

Christmas Lights

Winter is a time of lights—on the house, on the Christmas tree, in the oven while you bake cookies and on the thermostat when you turn up the heat. The days have gotten shorter, temperatures have dropped and it’s a great time to cozy up with friends and family. It’s also a time of high energy usage. From 1990 to 2008, Canada’s population has grown at a rate of 0.7% annually, but our energy consumption has grown at a rate of 1.3%. In British Columbia, space and water heating has been the major power consumer. During the Christmas season (and not to mention Hanukkah, Eid al-Adha and Kwanzaa), energy use for appliances and lighting skyrockets.

But there are easy ways to reduce energy use even during the colder times of the year! I’m here to walk you through a couple tweaks that can help you enjoy the winter season while keeping your electricity bills manageable and your energy consumption down.

Let's start with those dinner parties. 

If you are cooking a large meal with many different dishes, do not wait for each one to come out of the oven! With some strategic oven-rack placements, you should be able to cook multiple dishes together—as long as they are spaced a few inches apart. Additionally, sometimes smaller is better—many delicious holiday favourites can be made in a crockpot or another more energy-efficient appliance. Experiment with Grandma’s classic stuffing recipe this winter! You never know, you might become the new star chef in your family.

LED light it up! 

A great new winter trend has been the growing popularity of LEDs (Light-emitting diodes). LED bulbs consume far less electricity than incandescent bulbs and are much cooler, reducing the risk of small curious fingers being burned. Additionally, LEDs are much cheaper to keep on—lighting a six foot Christmas tree for twelve hours a day for forty days would normally cost $10 using Incandescent C9 lights (the regular, old school Christmas lights from the 90s), but the same amount of lighting only costs $0.27 with LED C9 lights. 32% of British Columbians reported using LEDs in 2011, but with such great savings involved, I’m sure we’ll see more people using them soon. If you want to go the extra mile, try putting your lights on a timer so you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to turn them on and off.

Wear a sweater, for goodness sake. 

For many people, another pivotal part of the winter season is entertaining family and friends. While some might feel the need to crank up the heat in order to have a cozy home for welcoming guests, you can actually turn the thermostat down a few degrees before hosting a get-together—the extra body heat from guests will keep your house snug and warm. If a few people are still cold, there’s nothing wrong with putting on a sweater!

These things might seem small, but if everyone acts together, little differences can add up to a lot. Challenge yourself this winter season! Try to reduce in a few areas and have a happy, energy-aware winter. 

Looking for a fun way to keep warm indoors? Try out some winter-inspired science at home with  Science World Resources: Winter Activities.