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7.4.7 Cities/Towns


7.4.7 Cities/Towns

How You Can Make Choices that Treat the Earth Well

20/20:The Way to Clean Air

A Program to Reduce Home Energy Use and Vehicle Use by 20%


Set a Target Reduce Your Energy Use! Two Good Reasons Why

Our use of energy is not only a climate change issue. It’s also a health issue. In addition to the carbon dioxide (CO2) burning fossil fuels release into our atmosphere, they have two other impacts. They produce gases which combine with sunlight to produce ground-level ozone, that contributes to smog. And they release very tiny particles (called “particulate”) into the air, which are dangerous when we breathe them in.

To help deal with energy use as a health issue, the City of Toronto Public Health Department has introduced a program called 20/20: The Way to Clean Air. It offers practical ways to improve both the local air-quality effects of energy use on people, as well as the big-picture issue of increasing of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The 20/20 Program is designed to show us how to reduce energy in the two places we use it most: at home and on the road. And like the best environmental programs, it offers more than just good environmental results. Some of the added benefits of saving energy with this program include

  • Saving money by cutting your energy costs cut by 20 per cent or more
  • Creating greater home comfort
  • More pleasurable – and less stressful – commuting
  • Cleaner air and improved health and well-being for you, your family and your neighbours

How the Program Works

The 20/20 Program provides participants with a Planner. The Planner is a detailed guidebook that offers a step-by-step approach to its two-stage approach to saving energy. And it’s free. Anyone who’d like to do the program can get a copy from the city of Toronto by calling the 20/20 hotline at 416-392-2020 (or from out of town, call 1-866-583-2020 toll free). The 20/20 Planner is also available on line, and can be downloaded from http://www.toronto.ca/health/2020/about.htm.

With the help of the 20/20 Planner, you and your family will find it easier to work out the best ways to save energy in two important ways.


A first step in saving energy is to find out how much you use. For a home, look at the major energy-use categories which include:

How much is your household spending on all its heating, cooling and electrical needs? Working out your total energy costs will help figure out family savings once you’re decided to put energy saving plan into place!

The next step is to look at the ways your home uses and wastes energy.

  • Is your space well insulated and weather-stripped to avoid drafts and heat leaks?
  • Do you have energy-saving appliances?
  • Do you have appliances which are on all the time? (Could you turn some of them off?)
  • Do you have compact fluorescent bulbs in your light fixtures (they use far less energy that incandescent bulbs!)?
  • Do you have shade trees near your home which make less air conditioning necessary?

And then, look at how you use energy:

  • Do you turn off appliances, computers and lights when they’re not needed?
  • Do you turn down the thermostat at night?
  • Do you turn the air conditioner down or off a night?
  • Do you close windows to keep heat in, and open curtains to let maximum light in?
  • Do you have a fan you can use instead of an air conditioner?
  • Do you run your washing machine and your dishwasher with full loads?

It all makes a difference! What would it take to reduce YOUR home energy use by 20%?

The 20/20 Planner offers a full list of things to check and good ideas about how to make best use of energy at home. It’s also full of ideas for new ways to save energy to use less of it on an average day, without being less comfortable.


Canadians use cars because they enjoy them and because they have access to affordable fuel. They also use cars because many cities and suburban areas are laid out in ways that make it hard to get to shopping malls, schools, and work places without a private vehicle.

But if you look around when you are on the road, you will notice many people alone in their cars. Single-passenger cars use a lot of energy! In Ontario, the traffic is increasing yearly. So is smog, road rage and driver stress. As road congestion increases, it wastes more of people’s time in traffic jams. Slow, heavy traffic also increase the amount of gas used, as well as the greenhouse gas emissions.

There are many ways to reach the goal of reducing weekly travel energy by 20%. A first one is to find a way to leave the car at home one day a week!

The 20/20 Program suggest some good ways to save on transportation energy:

  1. substitute other modes of travel for car travel:
    • cycling
    • walking
    • taking public transit
    • “telecommute” (travel by voice or email only)
    • take children to school with a “Walking School Bus”
  2. reduce car use
    • combine errands to avoid separate trips
    • car pool or car-share
  3. make your car more energy-efficient
    • get regular tune-ups
    • keep tires properly inflated
    • consider the health and climate effects of cars: think of purchasing a more environment-friendly car next time (check out the cars that would work best for your needs)



  1. Explain the 2 reasons why we should reduce the amount of energy we use.
  2. Choose 5 ways that you could reduce your energy use at home.
    HINT: look at the questions that ask about use of energy by you and in your home.
  3. a) Explain 1 way you could save on transportation energy use that would improve your health.
    b) What advice would you give an adult to help them save on transportation energy use.