This is a guest blog by Brad Cundiff, environmental writer

Did you know the energy your home loses everyday is the equivalent of having a hole in the side of your house the size of that portrait of grandma hanging in the front hall?  Finding that out really seemed to grab the attention of the participants in a workshop on weatherproofing your home, held in Toronto’s Ward 15.

The message energy expert Marcus Hinds had for the workshop  participants was simple – all those gaps around windows and doors actually add up to a big deal  – and a big cost.  Grandma, who always watched the nickels and dimes closely, would not be pleased.


energy efficiency demonstration sealing windows

Marcus showed the participants how simple it was to address these nefarious leaks with a few dollars worth of weather stripping and some caulking from the local hardware store.  There was also a demonstration of foam pipe wrap – cozy sleeves that keep the warmth inside your hot water pipes – and outlet covers to keep just power instead of power and cold air from flowing out of room outlets. Other tips included using a programmable thermostat, stopping phantom power leaks with power bars, and changing lightbulbs to super efficient LEDs.

It wasn’t high tech and it certainly wasn’t complicated (hey, anyone can change a lightbulb), but it was a recipe for a more comfortable – and economical – home.  In the “quiz for coupons” at the end of the night, the correct answer for “how much you can save with these simple measures” was 15 to 20 per cent savings on your energy bills!  As grandma would say, every little bit helps (by the way, you can get your own coupons at and find out about home retrofit incentives at


workshop on energy efficiency, caulking and sealing doors and windows

The Home Energy Savings Initiative (HESI) is an effort of the Roots Collaborative to get neighbours talking to neighbours about lowering their climate impact through actions like improving energy efficiency.  One of the interesting aspects of their home tune-up event was the location: The Toronto Tool Library, which provides low-cost access to a wide range of tools and equipment. This helps advance a low-carbon sharing economy, making it possible for any homeowner to take on home retrofit projects from the simple to the complex.

HESI has a number of additional events planned to help homeowners get a handle on their energy bills, including inviting residents to host a HESI party in their own homes (get some work done while having some friends over!).  Follow to find out more.