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Surprising insights from CanGeo's energy-use survey

I think of myself as an energy conserver—so Canadian Geographic’s new energy-use survey surprised me, and taught me a few things about how much energy we all use.

Janine Vandenberghe

I was so excited to take the Canadian Geographic EnergyIQ Energy-Use survey.

The survey asks the tantalizing question: How does your energy use stack up? It was an opportunity to prove to myself that I am indeed energy conscious. I work in the oil and natural gas industry in Alberta. Like many of my co-workers, I care deeply about the environment and ensuring we use our resources in a sustainable manner: I take public transit, I recycle and compost everything and I don’t leave lights on at home.

The survey estimates your personal consumption—based on questions to answers about things like what size house you own, how much you drive in a year, whether you prefer to hike or ride ATVs for recreation, how often you fly or take the train, and so on.

I learned something from the survey. Turns out, I use more energy than I realized: the survey classified me as an “Energy Eater”—noting that I have above-average energy use. (The survey shows how one’s energy use compares with the average in your province and across the country.) This surprised me, so did some digging to find out why. Some of the aspects of my life that affect my energy status are the following;

  • I take several flights a year—some for work, and I also recently took a trip to Seattle to watch my favourite baseball team (the Jays, of course). Flights contribute significantly to one’s energy use.
  • My extra-curricular activities – amusement parks, hiking and going to the gym are all things that I do that increase my energy consumption.
  • Albertans generally use more energy than people in other provinces (with the exception of Saskatchewan). Could be that prairie folk like their gadgets and big vehicles more than others; I think it probably also has something to do with a cold climate and spread-out population.

"Taking this test has made me more aware of how the things I do in my life impact my energy consumption."

All of these things impact my energy use. Taking this test has made me more aware of how the things I do in my life impact my energy consumption. It makes me realize how important energy is to our lives, and also has given me ideas on how to get better at energy conservation. On the latter point, the survey also serves up interesting tips and factoids regarding energy use and conservation. For example, did you know a LED light bulb uses 80 per cent less electricity per year than an incandescent bulb? The Canadian Government introduced regulations to fade out sale of incandescent bulbs through 2015.

I’ve sent the link to the survey to my friends and family so they can learn more about their energy use. I’ve also challenged myself to find new ways to use less energy.

What is your energy usage? Find out today: take the EnergyIQ survey.