Gen X now has a higher carbon footprint than Baby Boomers, according to a new survey conducted by BC Hydro.
This shift comes as Baby Boomers (ages 58-78), are beginning to downsize into condos or apartments while Gen X (ages 42-57) is moving into larger homes with more amenities.
The survey of nearly 800 British Columbians revealed that when it comes to making greener lifestyle changes, Gen X just isn’t willing to make the cuts, despite the belief that older generations are less environmentally sensitive.
They are 60 per cent less likely to opt for electric vehicles, 90 per cent less likely to reduce their use of gas appliances and 60 per cent less likely to give up gas heating systems compared to Millennials. Of all of the groups surveyed, Gen X is also more likely to believe the impact of climate change is exaggerated.
“Gen X is moving into bigger homes that have more amenities, with many are still relying heavily on things like natural gas for heating and appliances and extras like outdoor fire pits that are powered by gas or propane,” said Susie Rieder with BC Hydro told Black Press Media.
These homes are on average twice as large as those being lived in by Millennials and with larger homes comes greater energy use and emissions.
Heating a 1,500-to-2,000-square-foot home with natural gas for a year emits around two tonnes of CO2 - the equivalent to driving 8,000 kilometers. That number increases when appliances such as lawnmowers, porch heaters and fossil fuel burning appliances are factored in.
“Gen X has the biggest opportunity to make changes at home that can reduce their emissions and keep their costs down,” Rieder said. “Specifically switching to using electricity instead of natural gas because it is cleaner and it is more cost effective when you’re using things like a heat pump for instance.”
There are a number of solutions proposed by the report, including opting for electric appliances, switching to an electric vehicle, strategically heating your home and installing a heat pump.
A 2020 residential annual use survey showed that gas heating is still the most popular way to heat your home, however, there are options for installing a heat pump that will make it more affordable and aid in reducing personal carbon footprints.
“Many houses that are older don’t have heat pumps that are installed unless someone did a renovation, so it is something that maybe not many people are educated about,” Rieder said, noting the numerous rebates available for those looking to switch heating in their home to more green-friendly alternatives.
However, if installing a heat pump just isn’t an option, there are other changes that can be made, such as smart thermostats and weather stripping. Keeping an eye on your usage is also a great way to decrease emissions and lower costs.
“You can look at your “myhydro account” and you can see the times of day where you’ve used the most electricity and what might be contributing to that and you can also look at how adjusting your thermostat can impact your electricity.”
Information on rebates for heat pumps and electric vehicles can be found at bchydro.com/clean.