Cut out unnecessary idling to save money, energy and the environment 

The disease: It’s the Idling Disease, still commonly seen in driveways, parking lots and drive-throughs.

The prognosis: According to Natural Resources Canada, Canadians burn over 2 million litres of gas every day idling in winter and over a million litres every day in summer.

The potential: If every Canadian idled just 3 minutes less per day, we would save 640 million litres of gas a year.

The cure:  1) The best way to warm up your vehicle in winter is to drive it, not to let it idle;  2)  Even on the coldest day, 2-3 minutes of idling is enough time for an engine’s oil to circulate; then you’re good to go.  (Personal note: I still go by the old rule of 30 seconds and have never had a hint of car trouble.);  3.  When an engine is warm, idling for over 10 seconds uses more fuel and produces more CO2 than restarting your engine.

A SURE cure:  One business owner I know has developed an interesting way to demonstrate he’s serious about his company’s zero-idling policy: he just takes the keys out of any company vehicle found idling.  No words needed when the wrongdoer sheepishly visits his office to retrieve them…

Spread the cure:  Start a campaign in your workplace, school or community, or even the local coffee shop.  NRCan’s Idle Free Zone website offers awesome resources (including FAQs, videos, signage and more) for individuals, businesses and communities.

A new holiday?

February 7, 2012

Take part in National Sweater Day (February 9) 

One of the biggest slices of Canada’s carbon footprint comes from heating homes and workplaces – because most Canadian heating systems run on fossil fuels or fossil fuel-based electricity.  And one of the easiest ways to reduce that footprint is really simple: just turning a thermostat down 2°C can reduce heating bills by 5%.  Turning it down by 4°C saves 10%.  Savings just don’t come easier than that!

What about comfort?  Perhaps it’s time to fall in love again with that sweater your Grammy gave you.  In support of that notion, tomorrow is National Sweater Day – designed to encourage Canadians to wear a sweater and turn down the thermostat.  An initiative of the World Wildlife Fund, it has a fun side too – you can call ‘the Granny Call Centre’ to learn more about why you should wear that sweater.  More info and a fun video at

So please spread the word among your colleagues: wear a sweater and turn down the heat on the planet!

(PS: When it comes to climate change policies, I find myself frequently disappointed by our current federal government – but I KNOW our Prime Minister has what it takes to participate in this campaign…)