Ontarians Unaware of Unnecessary Power Drain, Study Finds

Cost of "phantom power" the focus of a new conservation campaign

TORONTO, April 7 /CNW/ - Three of every four Ontario residents are unaware of an invisible user of electricity that silently drains up to 15 percent of their annual home electricity use, according to a new survey.

A poll by Harris/Decima for the Ontario Power Authority found Ontarians are committed to being environmentally responsible but did not know about "phantom power" - the electricity consumed by some home electronics and appliances even when they are off. For the average Ontario household, which uses about 1,000 kilowatt-hours of power a month, phantom power can cost up to $100 a year.

The survey also found that three-quarters of Ontarians are willing to buy and plug their home electronics and other appliances into power bars with an automatic shut-off.

To encourage such actions, the Ontario Power Authority today launched a five-month, province-wide campaign called The Power Pledge. The online campaign also promotes five other simple but meaningful conservation actions that reduce electricity use, save money and help protect the environment. These actions include:

    -   buying ENERGY STAR(R) rated appliances and products
    -   taking a home energy audit
    -   retiring old or secondary refrigerators and freezers
    -   adopting smarter laundry practices, such as washing in cold water in
        off-peak hours and hanging clothes to dry
    -   adjusting the thermostat a couple of degrees in winter and summer and
        taking care to maintain furnaces and air conditioners.

The campaign website, available at powerpledge.ca, displays in real time a tally of Ontarians who have taken the pledge, the total kilowatt-hours and dollars saved and the amount of greenhouse gases avoided if everyone completes their commitments.

WWF-Canada is a major sponsor of The Power Pledge. The campaign builds on Earth Hour, one of WWF's flagship programs, by encouraging Ontarians to take planet-friendly actions every day.

Ontario residents who take the Power Pledge by Aug. 31 will earn 20 AIR MILES reward miles and can direct an additional 10 reward miles to one of three participating charities (including WWF-Canada). Participants can opt to redeem their reward miles for environmentally friendly offerings.

The Harris/Decima study was conducted with a representative sample of 656 Ontarians between March 18 and 28, 2010. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percent, 19 times in 20.


"By acting on our Power Pledge commitments, we can all save money and help our environment," says Colin Andersen, Ontario Power Authority CEO. "We calculate that a family taking just a few of these actions could save approximately $300 a year and reduce up to 600 kg of greenhouse gas emissions."

"Earth Hour showed Ontarians are ready to stand up and be counted in the fight against climate change," says Gerald Butts, President and CEO WWF-Canada. "The Power Pledge campaign gives us all a chance to help the planet every single day."

"AIR MILES reward miles are an extremely powerful driver to motivate positive behavioural change," says Chief Impact Officer and General Manager, Andrew Souvaliotis, AIR MILES Reward Program. "The involvement of the AIR MILES Rewards Program in the Power Pledge campaign will demonstrate the benefit of offering incentives to make a significant impact. We are proud to collaborate on an OPA initiative that will motivate Ontario residents to make more environmentally responsible choices in their everyday lives."

The Ontario Power Authority is responsible for ensuring a reliable, sustainable supply of electricity for Ontario. Its four key areas of focus are: planning the power system for the long term, leading and co-ordinating conservation initiatives across the province, ensuring development of needed generation resources and supporting the continued evolution of the electricity sector.

WWF-Canada (World Wildlife Fund Canada) is a member of WWF, one of the world's largest independent conservation organizations, active in more than 100 countries. WWF-Canada works collaboratively with governments, businesses and the public to help fight climate change, the single biggest environmental threat to our planet; conserve our oceans and freshwater resources; and educate and mobilize people to build a conservation culture.

The AIR MILES Reward Program, founded in 1992, is Canada's premier coalition loyalty program. More than 10 million active collector accounts, representing approximately two-thirds of all Canadian households, actively participate in the program. AIR MILES for Social Change is a newly created social enterprise that partners with government agencies, energy utilities, transit service providers and non-governmental organizations to create incentives for energy conservation, public transit and waste reduction to shift the attitudes and behaviors of Canadians in favour of healthy living and the environment. More information is available at www.airmiles.ca.

SOURCE Ontario Power Authority

For further information: For further information: Media Contacts: Ontario Power Authority, Tim Butters, (416) 969-6307, Toll Free: 1-800-797-9604; WWF-Canada, Tara Wood, (416) 484-7710, twood@wwfcanada.org; AIR MILES Reward Program, Media Desk, (416) 552-2346 or mediaoffice@loyalty.com

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