As energy management leaders, you have the privilege and responsibility of being the ‘go to person’ within and outside of your organization when others look for guidance on energy management best practices. 


The Certified Energy Manager course has helped prepare you to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions in your business, but what are you doing personally to contribute and set the right example at home and within your community? You want to do your part to reduce climate change, but do you know what actions you can take at home that will have the largest impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions?  Is it turning off light bulbs, hanging up your clothes on a clothes line instead of a dryer or reducing the heating in your home by 2°C?


The first key piece of information is the emissions profile of the provincial electricity grid where you live.  Every province in Canada has a very different GHG emissions profile (see the Canada Energy Regulator, formerly the National Energy Board, website for more information).


If you live in Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland or Quebec, the electricity grid is close to emissions-free, so reductions in electricity use will save you money but not contribute substantially to GHG reductions.  In these provinces, concentrate on reducing fossil fuel use to reduce your carbon footprint. For example, an average Ontarian produces 11 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually (compared to only 4.6 tonnes for the average person living in China).  The majority of the carbon footprint of the average Ontarian is made up of only 4 actions

  • Driving (2.2 tonnes CO2eq/year)
  • Home heating (1.7 tonnes CO2eq/year)
  • Flying (1.4 tonnes CO2eq/year), and
  • Eating beef (0.5 tonnes CO2eq/year).



Consider taking advantage of up to $5,000 in federal incentives for fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.  They save on maintenance as well and are much quieter.  In addition, the amazing torque creates a much faster acceleration than a gas car.  If you drive 20,000km/year, the additional capital cost of a fully electric car compared with an equivalent gasoline car will be paid back in approximately 5 years through gas and maintenance savings.  Other great actions include taking transit, cycling or carpooling.


Home Heating

Many Canadian homes are heated by natural gas, which, although cleaner than many fossil fuels, still significantly contributes to Canadians’ carbon emissions.  Consider purchasing carbon-free heating from alternative energy providers or invest in a heat pump, solar thermal technology or start by reducing the heating temperature by a degree or two in your home.



Consider purchasing carbon offsets which are credits for greenhouse gas reductions achieved by one party that can be purchased and used to compensate (offset) the emissions of another party.  For example, an organization could plant a certain number of trees to offset the carbon emissions from your flight to Europe. Also, consider video conferencing to reduce the amount of travel or travelling without a checked bag to reduce weight.


Eating Beef

Consider trying non-meat alternatives such as plant-based burgers, and vegetarian meals based on chickpeas, lentils, or other legumes to reduce your beef consumption.


For those energy management professionals based in provinces with a significant amount of coal-fired electricity which produce very high GHG emissions such as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and to a lesser extent, New Brunswick and PEI (who imports most of its power from New Brunswick), the above actions will be important; however, electricity reductions will also yield important GHG savings in addition to cost savings.  Large electricity users in homes include major appliances such as the refrigerator, electric stoves, clothes’ dryers and washers, dishwasher, and air conditioner; electronic equipment such as computers, printers, etc.; and lighting.


Ensure that electronics are on power bars that you can shut off so that no phantom power is drawn when the electronics are off, purchase energy star equipment, and only run the dishwasher/dryer/washer when full to reduce the amount of loads.


Energy managers – continue the great energy management work at your businesses, and hopefully the tips above can help you ‘walk the energy management talk’ and be a leader at home and in your community as well as your business.


-Emily Thorn Corthay


About Emily Thorn Corthay

P.Eng., MASc., CEM, CMVP

Emily is a Professional Engineer, Certified Energy Manager and Certified Measurement and Verification Professional with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and over fifteen years of energy engineering as well as people and project management.  Emily is President of Thorn Associates, an energy and carbon management consulting corporation, and past Director of Energy Optimization and Management at Hatch Ltd., a 10,000 employee international engineering consulting firm. In addition, Emily is an elected Director of the Board and Chair of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers’ (OSPE’s) Energy Task Force as well as a member of OSPE’s Audit & Finance committee.   


A Laureate of the RelèveTO Young Professional Award, Emily has acted as project manager, technical reviewer and energy engineer for over 70 industrial energy projects, including energy audits, energy design reviews, energy efficiency improvement projects, energy management information system studies and implementation. Emily was also a team member for Canada’s first pilot program aimed at helping companies achieve the ISO 50001 energy management standard. She began her career with five years in the fuel cell industry.


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