Generation Next: Gen X overtake Baby Boomers as largest carbon emitters in B.C.
VANCOUVER: A new BC Hydro report1 finds while most British Columbians think Baby Boomers are the least environmentally conscious generation, Gen X has the biggest carbon footprint at home.
The report titled “Green generation gap: Gen X most resistant to going green at home” [PDF, 133 KB] finds while Baby Boomers (58-78 years-old) once lived in the biggest houses with the most amenities, there is a shift occurring, and now Gen X (42-57 years-old) is the most likely to live in larger, detached single-family homes that have bigger GHG implications – particularly because many are still relying heavily on natural gas for heating and appliances, and use other gas-powered equipment and tools.
“The average home size of Gen X is between 1,500 to 2,000 square feet – twice as large as Millennials,” said Susie Rieder, BC Hydro spokesperson. “Bigger homes often mean greater energy use and emissions, especially when it comes to home heating with natural gas, which is often the largest contributor.”
While almost a quarter of Gen X think their generation cares the most about the environment and impacts of climate change, over half also admitted they could be doing more to reduce their carbon footprint. But when it comes to giving things up to go green, Gen X is significantly less willing to make sacrifices than Millennials (26-41 years-old) – this may be partially attributed to the fact they are the most likely group to think the impacts of climate change have been exaggerated.
While many Gen Xers have taken steps in the right direction such as recycling and reducing the use of single use plastics, they are much less willing to give up the gas-powered elements of their lives. For example, Gen X is nearly 60 per cent less likely to give up driving a gas-powered vehicle than Millennials, and almost 90 per cent less likely to give up using gas appliances than Millennials.
Of British Columbians, Gen X is the most likely to use natural gas heating at home and the least likely to be willing to give it up, as well as several other gas-powered appliances and equipment including water heaters, kitchen appliances, fireplaces, lawnmowers, weedwhackers, pressure washers, leaf blowers and patio heaters. Heating a typical single-family home entirely with natural gas each year can emit about two tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is about the same carbon footprint as driving a fossil-fueled car for 8,000 kilometres, and the addition of other gas appliances on top of this can mean an even bigger carbon footprint.
Because 98 per cent of the electricity BC Hydro generates is from clean, renewable resources that are mostly powered by water, using electricity at home in B.C.is a great way to reduce your GHG emissions, while keeping household costs down. BC Hydro recommends the following:
- Using a heat pump: Heating is often the biggest contributor to a home’s carbon footprint, but here in B.C. it does not have to be. Heating with an electric heat pump is a much cleaner, and now cheaper option in B.C. For the average household in B.C., it is less expensive to heat with an electric heat pump than a natural gas furnace. A natural gas furnace costs around $731/year to operate, compared to $642/year to an electric heat pump. Switching to an electric heat pump powered by water will also reduce the average household’s greenhouse gas emissions by about two tonnes per year.
- Choosing electric appliances: Natural gas appliances contribute about half a ton per year to a household’s greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of driving your fossil fueled car over 2,000 kilometres.
- Driving an EV: Save on maintenance and fuel costs as well as significantly reducing GHG emissions by switching from a gas-powered vehicle to an EV.
- Heating smart: If installing a heat pump is not an option, make sure to use your current heating method efficiently. The thermostat should be set at 16 degrees C when away from home or sleeping, 18 degrees C when cooking or doing housework and 21 degrees C when relaxing at home.
Visit bchydro.com/clean for more details on heat pump rebates and an in-depth guide to purchasing an EV.
BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468
 Survey conducted by Majid Khoury online of 800 British Columbians between August 15-18, 2022, margin of error +/- 3.46%.