Climate action at home

Single-family housing is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in London because of the fossil fuels homes use for heating and for hot water. Renovating existing homes with energy-saving improvements is a priority included in London’s Climate Emergency Action Plan.

Home energy retrofits

A home energy retrofit involves making changes at home to reduce the amount of energy your household uses. This could also include potentially changing the sources of energy used in the home to lower-emission ones. By investing in retrofits that make your home more energy efficient, you will lower your energy costs, reduce your maintenance requirements,  reduce your carbon emissions, and support the local economy and local jobs. The costs and savings associated with home energy retrofits is largely dependent on the age, condition and size of the house, with older homes generally having greater potential for savings.

Minor retrofits could include:

  • Caulking and adding weather strips around windows and doors to eliminate drafts. 
  • Installing low-flow faucets
  • Upgrading lighting systems
  • Installing a smart thermostat

Major retrofits could include:

  • Replacing windows and doors
  • Updating inefficient heating and cooling systems
  • Adding Insulation
  • Installing net-metered solar power

For Londoners in rented homes, the measures above would need to be undertaken by property owners. However, tenants can make some draft-proofing improvements such as:

  • Temporary window film for draft-proofing and insulation
  • Electrical outlet foam gaskets for exterior walls
  • Draft-proofing tape for exterior doors


Making your home more energy efficient and resilient to climate change

Available incentives and service providers

There are several incentives offered by the federal government, the Province of Ontario, and local partners for homeowners in London to support home energy retrofits. Many of the incentives below can be “mixed and matched”, in that a home owner could use one or more of these programs to help fund the renovation work. However, two different programs cannot be used to fund the same measure.

Residents are encouraged to contact service providers directly as they develop their own plan to make their home more energy efficient and resilient to climate change. 

  • Oil to Heat Pump Affordability (OHPA) Program - London homeowners who heat their home with oil and are at or below the median household after-tax income may qualify to receive an upfront payment of up to $10,000 under the Oil to Heat Pump Affordability program to switch from oil heating to new, energy-efficient cold climate air source heat pump system. Within London, the use of oil for heating can be found in homes in the rural areas of London, many of which are in the south end of London – i.e., the N6L and N6N postal codes.
  • The Canada Greener Homes Loans Program- This program also offers interest-free loans of up to $40,000, with a repayment term of 10 years to help you undertake major home retrofits.
  • Enbridge’s Home Winterproofing program - income-qualified households can access free insulation, draft-proofing, and smart thermostat installation for gas-heated homes.
  • Save on Energy's Energy Affordability program - offers energy saving upgrades ​​​​​​for electrically-heated homes - including a free cold climate air source heat pump!
  • London Environmental Network’s Greener Homes London program - this program provides residents with the self-guidance tools and resources to assist them with reducing their environmental impact at home. 
  • London Hydro’s Net Metering program - allows Londoners to generate their own electricity to offset some or all their electricity needs using solar power. 


Preparing your home for winter

Stop your faucets from freezing

It is important to winterize your outdoor faucets to prevent them from freezing as freeze damage can destroy the faucet or lead to a burst pipe. Check to see if you have a frost free faucet. Not sure how to tell? A rule of thumb is that if the faucet has a knob that’s perpendicular to the house its frost free. This knob, turns a stem inside the faucet that closes a valve inside, directing the water away from the outside of the house back into the inside of the house where it’s warm. It still however, is a good practice to shut your outdoor water off during the winter.

Haul away your hoses

Disconnect all garden hoses from any outdoor faucets, if you leave your garden hose attached to the faucet all winter, your faucet and hose can freeze causing damage and may even lead to a burst pipe.

Shut off your sprinkler

To prevent frozen pipes or leaks it is important to winterize your irrigation system. Check your systems manual for specific details about your irrigation system or consult with your irrigation company for more information.

Evacuate your eaves

Clean your eaves troughs from any debris such as leaves, twigs, and bird nests which could cause water to collect, freeze, and eventually damage your eaves or roof. To clean your eaves simply sweep the debris out of the trough using a ladder and your hands or a small broom.

Batten down your barrels

If you have a rain barrel, it is important that you disconnect it from your eaves trough system in the winter to prevent freezing in your eaves trough and in your rain barrel. Rain barrel freezing can often lead to the barrel expanding too far and breaking. If you do not have an indoor or covered area to store your barrels for the winter, simply flip them upside down to ensure no water will be held inside of them. Once you disconnect your rain barrel don’t forget reconnect your downspouts to ensure winter precipitation flows away from your foundation.

Net metering

Net metering

In Ontario, homeowners can use solar power in a “net metering” arrangement where excess solar power is credited for use at other


Learn more about net metering

Water conservation

Every drop of drinking water used or wasted carries with it an environmental impact. Treating and pumping our water and sewage is responsible for about one-third of the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations in Ontario. Conserving water can limit these impacts.

Every litre of water that does not need to be treated and pumped reduces energy use and emissions.

Showers and baths

In London, the majority of a person’s daily water consumption is used for bathing. Of the water used, almost half is heated.

Heating water for bathing requires a lot of natural gas and can account for approximately 25% of the energy consumed in your home. A five-minute shower with a standard showerhead uses 100 litres of water.  The same length of shower with an ultra low-flow showerhead uses only 35 litres of water.

How you can lower your water and energy use:

  • Reduce your shower time
  • Install a high efficiency showerhead​​​​​​ with a WaterSense label

Hot water recirculation units

If you find yourself running the tap for more than 30 seconds while waiting for hot water, you may want to install a hot water recirculation unit to help save money on your water bill and limit wasted water. A hot water recirculation unit works by circulating water through the pipes so that room temperature water can return to be reheated, rather than go down the drain. When you want hot water, it's there instantly.  As every property is unique, please contact a professional for more information on whether this system can help you save money and water in your home.


There are many ways to save water through your home's toilet. including reducing the number of times you flush per day, finding and repairing any leaks you have and retrofitting your home and toilets to be more water efficient.

20% of an average Londoner’s daily water use is flushed down the toilet. One toilet flush can use up to 18 litres of water. Ultra-low flush toilets can use up to 12 litres less water per flush while maintaining the same flushing power.

How you can lower your water and energy use:

  • Install a low-flow toilet WaterSense label.
  • Avoid unnecessary flushing.
  • Never flush wipes down the toilet. Even if a product states it is “flushable”, these items do not readily decompose in the sewers and lead to major problems in wastewater pumping stations and treatment plants. They can even negatively impact your home's plumbing.
  • Check for any leaks in your toilet by adding food colouring to your water tank and waiting 15-30 minutes to see if the colour spreads to the bowl without flushing. If there is any colour in the bowl, then you have a leak, and your toilet needs to be repaired.
  • Check your toilets for worn out, corroded or bent parts. 
  • Replace or adjust the toilet flush handle if it is sticking regularly as this causes water to flow constantly.
  • For toilets larger than 6 litres, place a water-filled plastic bottle or commercial toilet insert into the tank. This reduces the volume of water needed to fill the tank, but still provides enough for flushing.
Washing machines

A traditional washing machine uses approximately 190 litres of water to wash a large load. A high efficiency washing machine can save you up to 100 lites of water per large load of laundry.

How you can lower your water and energy use:

  • If you can, wear your clothes more than once to avoid unnessesary loads of laundry.
  • Select the correct load sizes and cycles on your machine when doing laundry.
  • Wash full loads of laundry to save money, water, energy and detergent.
  • When buying new washing machine, consider purchasing a front-loading model.  These machines use less water, reduce energy costs, require less soap and are gentler on your clothes. If you can't select a top-load washer, choose one that is high efficiency. 
  • Wash in cold water to save money and conserve hot water for other uses. Washing in cold water also reduces damage to clothes.
  • Check for and repair any leaks around the washing machine taps and hoses.
  • Use environmentally friendly detergents that have no phosphate and are biodegradable.
The kitchen

While preparing dinner or doing dishes, look for ways your family can reduce its water use in the kitchen. 

How you can lower your water and energy use:

  • Soak your pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  • Keep a container of drinking water in the refrigerator to reduce the wasteful habit of running tap water to cool it before drinking.
  • Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods.  Instead, defrost foods overnight in your refrigerator or use the microwave’s defrost settings.
  • Save water from cooking vegetables and use it for soups and gravies or use it to give your houseplants a drink once the water is cool.
  • Boil vegetables using just enough water to cover them.  Steaming vegetables not only uses less water, it conserves more nutrients.
  • Install an instant water heater in your kitchen so you don't have to run water for it to heat up. This also can reduce heating costs in your home.​​​​​
  • Collect fats, oils, and grease (FOG) in a cup and keep it from going down the drain. FOG can block London's sewer system when it's poured down your sink or into your toilet.  When FOG hardens, you could end up flooding your basement. Free FOG Cups can be picked up at City of London EnviroDepots and at London Public Library locations. 
Outdoor water use

The way in which you water your lawn is just as important as how often and how much water you use.  It is important to choose the right irrigation system for the landscape.

How you can lower your water and energy use:

  • The best time to water your lawn or garden is the early morning.  Avoid watering in the late evening which can cause long periods of dampness increasing the risk of disease and fungus. 
  • Be mindful of municipal water alerts. Lawn and garden watering may be limited to certain dates to conserve water during the warmer months.
  • Rain barrels are an excellent way to conserve water and save money on your water bills. They collect rain water that can be used for your lawn and garden.
  • Avoid using a lawn sprinkler.  If you must use a sprinkler, install a water efficient component such as a low-rise sprinkler head, soaker hoses, or a drip irrigation system and use a timer.  Make sure you are not watering sidewalks and driveways.
  • Purchase a rain gauge to determine how much rain or irrigation your yard has already received each week.
  • Water your plants deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.
  • Adjust your lawn watering schedule and method so that it is specific to your lawn’s soil condition.
  • Avoid overwatering.  Watering your lawn too much and too often will cause shorter root systems to develop making it susceptible to dry conditions.  Overwatering indicators include yellowing or lighter green leaves, or algae and fungi growth. One inch of water per week is enough.
  • When selecting plants and grass to reseed your landscape, consider drought-resistant grasses and plants. Group plants with the same watering needs together to get the most out of your watering time.​​​​​​
  • Outfit your hose with a shut-off nozzle which can adjust the water flow rate.
  • Eliminate hose and tap leaks by using hose washers between the spigot and the water hose.
Water conservation while you are away from home

Going away for a trip or vacation? Set your water heater to vacation mode or lower the temperature a few degrees.

Turning off the main water supply to your home is also the best defense against flooding caused by a burst pipe or other plumbing failure.

First, locate the main water supply valve in your home. The valve should have a wheel control or lever handle to open and close it. It is perfectly safe to turn it off by either turning the wheel clockwise or closing the lever. If you don’t know where to locate the valve, you may find it in the basement, in the crawl space, or outside your home.

Flooding prevention at home

Flooding has been identified as one of the highest risks in London caused by climate change. Sump pumps, sump pits, and backwater valves can help prevent flooding.​​​ Basement window well covers, downspout extensions, downspout splash blocks, and landscaping to maintain or create surface swales can also help water flow away from homes.

The City's Basement Flooding Grant Program is designed to provide financial assistance to property owners to disconnect their weeping tiles from the City’s sewer systems and to install a sump pit and sump pump, and backwater valve.  

Standing water in your yard can also occur for several different reasons such as soil type, lot grading, time of year, intensity of the rain event and any changes that have occurred on the property that have reduced green space.  Lot grading helps ensure that rain and snow melt flow away your home. Proper lot grading can prevent ponding of stormwater and reduce the likelihood of flooded basements and damp yards.

​​​​Learn more about flood Prevention

Tree planting

Planting native trees around you house will provide shade and can act as a wind break reducing the energy your home needs for both summer cooling and winter heating. Trees also help absorb heavy rainfall and reduce stormwater flows.

Learn more about tree planting

72 Hour emergency kit

Prepare a 72 hour emergency kit to use in the event of a power outage, neighbourhood disaster or any emergency that requires Londoners to shelter-in-place. Typical items contained in a 72-hour emergency kit include bottled water, medications, food for 3 days, first aid kit, wind-up flashlight and radio, external battery pack or wind-up phone charger, dust mask and duct tape, whistle, personal sanitation items, important documents, cash in small bills and coins, warm clothing, and blankets or sleeping bags.

Learn more about emergency preparedness 

Calculate your household's carbon footprint

The first step you can take to lower your environmental impact is to measure your household's carbon footprint. More than 1,000 London households have already used Project Neutral’s carbon calculator to create a personalized action plan, and start making a positive impact. Use the calculator and discover your carbon footprint in five minutes.

Project Neutral

View more advice and tips to Save on Energy

Last modified:Wednesday, May 08, 2024