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Beyond Earth Hour: Cool new energy tools for homeowners and small businesses

March 22, 2013

Tomorrow, Saturday, March 23, at 8:30 p.m. local time, millions of people around the globe will turn their lights off for 60 minutes to highlight the role that energy plays in our lives. The goal of Earth Hour, which was launched in 2007, is to motivate individual action to reduce human impact on global climate change.

This year, people in 152 countries on all seven continents will participate at home, at work or by attending one of thousands of Earth Hour events.

But what happens at 9:31 p.m. when we switch our lights back on? Will the message stick? What will we have learned about our use of energy, its critical role in our society and its negative impact on our climate? Can we turn the 60 minutes of Earth Hour into lasting change? Can each of us, as citizens of the grid or “gridizens,” really make a difference?

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After all, energy is boring, bills are complicated and it’s hard to visualize the impact of smarter energy choices. That is, until now.

New energy tools for good “gridizens

There are new tools that simplify saving energy for consumers and make being a good gridizen easier and way more fun than ever. If you’re interested in how you can use less energy, save more money and live better, there are answers.

These good gridizen action tools make use of the Ontario Ministry of Energy Green Button initiative, which will provide both residential consumers and small businesses with access to their smart meter data in readily usable, cost-effective and often fun ways. The Ontario Green Button directive is being led by MaRS Data Catalyst with help from regulators and participating electric utilities. Look for news from your Ontario utility over the coming months.

Enabling consumer-authorized access to smart meter data promises more choice, practical tools and, ultimately, more benefits to all Ontarians, while continuing to protect consumer privacy.

Think of discounts on home insurance for being energy efficient, school curricula making use of real energy data, and being able to compare your energy consumption to that of your peer groups, Facebook friends or neighbours. For small business owners, think of understanding your energy consumption and coordinating different types of equipment to reduce it. Think of never being surprised by a high electricity bill again. Think of city planners being able to easily gather smart meter data, mapping it to see where energy use is most intense and using that information to plan infrastructure upgrades and track the outcome. The opportunities for new energy use insights are tremendous.

Creating a better energy future

These new Green Button technologies, products and services maximize Ontario’s investment in smart grid leadership. Increasing energy literacy and making wise choices with our resources is the foundation for a better energy future.

Save money and have fun: Check out these great Green Button participants

At the end of Earth Hour, think: “Now what?” Then be a good gridizen and check out the following companies–all of which are working on great Green Button tools. They’ll help you see, manage and reduce your energy use.

You’ll learn, you’ll save money and you’ll have some fun. The planet, your pocketbook and your grandchildren will thank you.

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Jane Kearns

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A senior advisor with the MaRS cleantech practice, Jane is a recognized leader in sustainable innovation, and has expertise in growing companies at the intersection of business and sustainability. With an MBA in finance from Columbia University and over 15 years of experience in the environmental finance, cleantech and sustainability sectors, she helps build businesses that matter.

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