Toronto Hydro Challenge

Who's the Greenest Ward? Toronto Hydro's City-Wide Challenge

Energy conservation is big this year: first it was Earth Hour, then the OPA brought in Ed Begley Jr and now Toronto Hydro has launched the city-wide challenege Count Me In Toronto. Toronto's 44 wards are pitted against each other, dueling for top conservation honours, and Ward 30 (Toronto Danforth) is leading the pack - with 8 people signed up.

The idea is that residents sign up for one or all of four programs, most notably Spring Turn On and Keep Cool. The former encourages people to use CFLs and both this weekend and next lucky customers at Home Depot and Canadian Tire will receive one free (the rest of us will get discounts). Keep Cool earns you a $25 Home Depot gift card in exchange for an old but working room a/c unit.

The challenge also considers those who sign up for peaksaver and the refrigerator roundup, and Hydro users who participate in all four programs will help their ward earn the green energy retrofit Toronto Hydro is dangling as a prize. Individuals who sign up, though, are eligible to win one of five MacBooks.

Which makes we wonder, will people sign up because they should be conserving energy, or because they want a MacBook?

I'm kind of impressed Toronto Hydro has taken such an active lead in encouraging Torontonians to use less electricity, and it's great to see partnerships with highly visible businesses - I suspect the 40,000 lightbulbs being given away this weekend and next will fly out of volunteer's hands - but I also find myself lamenting that the focus is still on CFLs.

Yes, we all should be changing light bulbs and yes, it would make a big difference if we all switched to more energy efficient illumination. But things like home energy audits are even more important. The message about CFLs shouldn't be different than the message about recycling: it's the minimum we should all be doing.

Of course, when the new Time-of-Use pricing takes effect, people will start seeing an economic disincentive to sticking with the status quo.

But now that summer is upon us, it's time to change some light bulbs and replace some air conditioners. Do it for your wallet, your ward or conscience; the contest runs through September 6th.

Full disclosure: Toronto Hydro is an advertiser on blogTO. To prevent any potential for conflict of interest, this post was written by a contributor not involved with any of blogTO's advertising initiatives or programs.

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