Now that the federal carbon tax has arrived in Saskatchewan, many are angry about the impact the bump in prices is having on their wallet. But some are embracing the change, investing in cost-effective, energy-efficient homes.
When Matthew Pointer built his west Regina home five years ago, he designed it to be as energy efficient as possible.
“With the carbon pricing now coming out and things becoming more expensive, having a more energy-efficient home obviously just makes a lot more sense,” Pointer said.
From LED lights to fibreglass windows, even a high-efficiency boiler system with an air handler, everything is mapped out with cost in mind.
“It’s also structural insulated panel. This entire house was framed and put together in two days with a framing crew,” Pointer said. “The walls of this house are eight inches wide with rigid foam, basically from the inside all the way to the outside. The roof has 10-inch structural insulated panels as well.”
Solar panels also line the roof and provide enough power for both his house and his electric vehicle.
“I was spending somewhere between $150 and $200 a month on gasoline with my previous car,” Pointer said. “So I’m saving at least $150 a month depending on my driving habits and that doesn’t even include maintenance either.”
Pointer is the founder of the Saskatchewan Electric Vehicle Association and says there are approximately 150 electric vehicles currently on the road. He expects to see more as prices drop.
“They just released the $45,000 dollar version of the Tesla Model 3 so that will be coming hopefully in the next couple of months,” Pointer said. “But there’s always the used market and, for example, you can buy a used Nissan Leaf for $12,000 to $14,000.”
With all the changes, Pointer says he now pays less in energy bills on his nearly 3,000-square-foot home than he did when he had a house one-third of the size.
Now that the federal carbon tax is in effect, associate economics professor at the University of Regina Jason Childs says it’s all about changing consumer habits.
“If you make something more expensive, people will do less of it,” Childs said. “In the context of global warming and CO2’s contribution to global warming, we want to produce less CO2, so let’s put a price on it. Let’s make emitting carbon dioxide more expensive and as the price goes up people will do less.”
This year SaskEnergy customers will pay $109 more, while your SaskPower bill is going up $18. But there are other ways to save money.
“Shopping in a different way, thinking about how many trips you take different places — all those things will feed into your ability to reduce the carbon emissions you cause,” Childs said.
SaskPower is also offering customers a 20 per cent rebate on their purchase of solar panels. It says it has seen an increase in people going solar as the technology gets less expensive.
But Childs adds the bigger question is what happens if consumer behaviour doesn’t change.
“If the behaviour doesn’t change, are they then going to increase the price or the level of the tax? Or not?” Childs said. “If the behaviour doesn’t change and the tax doesn’t change very much, then it’s a revenue policy. If the behaviour doesn’t change and the tax gets radically changed, then it might be an environmental policy.”
For now, Pointer is trying to stay ahead of the curve and with costs for things like electric vehicles becoming more affordable, he’s encouraging others to do the same.