Take Control of the Energy Usage In Your Home
Tuesday Jun 19th, 2018
Heating & Cooling
Heating and cooling your home accounts for about 60% of your energy costs. Warm to these cool tips to make a big impact on your energy bill.
- Install ceiling fans and use them to supplement or even as an alternative to air conditioning – ceiling fans generally use very little electricity. Make sure your fan is blowing air downwards in summer. Save More
- Install a programmable thermostat with a built-in timer. You can set it to lower the heat by a few degrees at night and when you’re away, or turn off the AC when you leave for the day. Contrary to popular belief, this method uses less electricity than having the AC constantly maintain a cool temperature! Your savings can easily pay for the cost of the thermostat (as little as $50) in the first year by varying the temperature just a few degrees at night or when you’re away. Just think of the savings over 5 or 10 years!
- To save money on heating costs, reduce the temperature of your home a few degrees at night and when you’re away.
- Keep blinds, shades and drapes closed during the hottest part of the day in the summer. (And open south-facing blinds on sunny winter days!)
- Use area rugs on cold floors – if your feet are cold, your body will feel cold.
- If you feel cool, put on a sweater rather than simply turning up the thermostat.
- Clean or replace the air filter on your furnace every month to improve efficiency.
- To save more on central AC costs, try cooling your home to only 24 or 25 °C instead of the low 20’s. Each degree below 26 °C will noticeably increase your electricity use!
- Turn off unnecessary lights in the house (they produce a lot of heat which works against the AC.)
- Conservation can be as easy as planting a tree. Plant some leafy (deciduous) trees on the sunny side of your house. During the summer they provide shade, and in the winter they will shed their leaves to let the warming sunshine through.
- Pine or fir trees on the north side provide an energy-saving windbreak.
Are you heating water unnecessarily? Here’s how you can stem the flow of wasted energy.
- Showers save hot water – a typical bath uses approximately 75 litres of hot water, while a 5-minute shower with an efficient showerhead will use about half of that.
- Save a Lot Wrapping your electric water heater in a special tank blanket can reduce its electricity use.
- Be sure to use the vacation setting or turn off the water heater when you are out of town.
- Fix leaky faucets – that little drip can add up to 95 litres of water per faucet per month, and cost you 7 kWh per month.
- Installing low flow aeraters on faucets can save water and energy.
- Drain a pail of water from your natural gas hot water tank every 3 months, or as recommended by the manufacturer, to remove sediment that prevents heat transfer, lowering the unit’s efficiency.
- Energy Fact: On average, water heaters use the most energy in the home after heating. A 175-litre tank can use up to 5000 kWh per year, a cost of almost $500 at today’s prices.
Your refrigerator is always on, but there are several no-cost ways to put energy costs on ice!
- Don’t let freezers build up more than 6 mm of frost. Defrost regularly to keep freezers working their best.
- Looking to Buy a New Refrigerator? Be sure to check the EnerGuide label on every fridge, and consider energy savings in your buying decision. Invest a little more and buy an ENERGY STAR®-qualified model. ENERGY STAR-qualified refrigerators exceed minimum federal energy efficiency standards for energy consumption by at least 10%, which will save you more money in the long run.
- Set the temperature for only as cold as you need; check manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Don’t keep that old, inefficient refrigerator running in the basement for occasional refreshments. It could cost you $150 or more per year in electricity.
- Don’t overfill the refrigerator, as this blocks air circulation. Conversely, a full freezer will perform better than an empty one.
- Check your refrigerator’s door seal by closing the door on a $5 bill. If it’s held tightly in place, the seal’s OK; if not, the door should be adjusted or the seal replaced.
- Clean your refrigerator’s coils (back) and air intake grill (below the doors) every 3 months.
- Keep refrigerators and freezers out of direct sunlight, and allow at least 5 centimetres all around (or as recommended by the manufacturer) to allow heat to escape from the compressor and condensing coil.
- Allow hot foods to cool before putting them in the refrigerator.
- Energy Fact: The refrigerator is one of the biggest electricity guzzlers in most homes. While efficiency has improved a lot in recent years, even top-of-the-line models can use more electricity than ENERGY STARqualified refrigerators.
The stove is another big energy guzzler. Here are some hot tips to help you save.
- When using the stove, be sure to put lids on pots in order to keep the heat in the pot, which enables you to use lower heat settings!
- Did you know… one kilowatt hour is the amount of electricity required to keep a 100-watt bulb lit for ten hours.
- The average Ontario household uses about 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month.
- Use an electric kettle to boil water – not the stove, which is less efficient.
- Generally, thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator before cooking, unless the label says otherwise.
- If you put aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to catch drippings, make sure the foil does not block any of the oven’s circulation holes and don’t put foil on the oven racks.
- Turn off the oven just before finishing – the oven will remain hot long enough to complete the job.
- Don’t use a bigger pot than you need, and match it to the right size element.
- A general rule: for smaller cooking jobs, use smaller appliances (i.e., instead of your range or cooktop, use the electric kettle, toaster oven or microwave.)
- Energy Facts: Microwave ovens use up to 75% less energy, so whenever possible, use a microwave instead of your stove or oven.
Wash your hands clean of the high cost of washing dishes.
- Try to operate with a full load and use the energy-saving cycle.
- Save The Environment: In winter, Ontario’s greatest demand for electricity usually occurs from 4 to 9 PM. Try switching non-essential chores to the off-peak times between 9 PM and 7 AM. On hot summer days, the greatest overall demand for electricity is usually from 10 AM to 4 PM, but high residential use can extend to midnight, because of air conditioner usage. By shifting non-essential use to times of lower demand, you can help reduce the use of fossil fuel generation, which helps keep the environment cleaner.
- Looking to Buy a New Dish Washer? If you’re planning to buy a new dishwasher, consider investing in an ENERGY STAR®-qualified model, which is at least 25% more efficient than the least efficient dishwasher.
- Don’t waste hot water by pre-rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher – just scrape off food and empty liquids.
- Air dry your dishes – you can save 10% of the cost of operation.
- Load dishes according to manufacturer’s instructions to allow for proper water circulation.
- Check and clean drains and filters regularly to ensure efficient operation.
- Energy Facts: Using a dishwasher can actually be more efficient than washing dishes by hand, assuming you use the dishwasher once for every 3 to 4 times you would wash dishes by hand.
Clothes Washer & Dryer
Clean your clothes without cleaning out your bank account.
- Always use cold water for the RINSE cycle. Using warm or hot water for the RINSE cycle does not get your clothes any cleaner.
- Looking to Buy a New Clothes Washer? Front-loading clothes washers cost a little more than conventional washing machines, but they use roughly half the water per load, and are more effective at squeezing the water out of the clothes – which lowers the electricity costs for drying them! Also, clothes washed in front-loading washers last longer because they are gently tumbled rather than twisted around an agitator. Invest a little more for an ENERGY STAR®-qualified clothes washer, which uses 35-50% less water and 50% less energy per load than the average conventional clothes washer. The savings on your energy bill will add up quickly.
- Washer: Run full loads whenever possible but don’t overload the machines.
- Wash your clothes in cold or warm water. A whopping 85-90% of the energy used by washing machines is for heating the water! You can save a lot of energy by lowering the water temperature.
- Try using cold or warm water for the WASH cycle, instead of hot water. Hot water shrinks and fades your clothes, and wears them out more quickly.
- Dryer: Make sure clothes are effectively wrung before putting them in the dryer. (Front-loading washers are the best at squeezing the water out!)
- Separate loads into heavy, medium and lightweight items – lighter loads will take less drying time than a mixture of items.
- Dry consecutive loads to utilize otherwise wasted heat from the dryer.
- Clean the lint filter after every load. (A clogged lint filter can increase energy use up to 30%, and may be a fire hazard!)
- Get some fresh air! Consider using a clothesline to dry your laundry.
- Energy Fact: The EnerGuide label is required on all new electrical major home appliances sold in Canada. It lets you compare the energy efficiency of appliances you’re considering. Check the EnerGuide labels when you shop for appliances – the lower the kilowatt/hour number shown, the more energy-efficient the appliance.
Home Office & Other Savings Around The Home
The home office is just one possible culprit for wasting energy. But it doesn’t take a lot of work to save on your energy bill.
- Computers and related components use electricity even when they are not in use. Plug each computer component into a power bar that can be shut off, to avoid wasting electricity with the ‘standby’ power feature.
- Save The Environment: About two-thirds of Ontario’s electricity comes from nuclear and hydroelectric sources with virtually no smog or acid gas emissions. The rest comes mostly from fossil fuel powered generating stations. At times of peak demand, we rely even more heavily on fossil fuel powered generation. So using less energy means less power plant emissions, which helps to keep the environment cleaner today and far into the future.
- Consider energy-efficient computer systems and monitors when you replace a system. Make sure you enable your computer’s energy-saving features.
- Be sure to at least shut off the computer screen, as 60% of the power used by a computer is used by the monitor! (The other 40% is used to keep your hard drive spinning and to power the electronics.)
- Put your home entertainment systems on a power bar and turn off the bar when you are not using them. (Components without clocks and timers, of course.)
- Unplug infrequently used TVs, as many continue to draw power even when turned off.
- Put swimming pool pumps on a timer, or run them only a few hours a day. Keep the filter clean for greater efficiency.
- Use a solar blanket to keep swimming pool water warm overnight, and use your heater only when necessary.
- Solar pool heaters (roughly $3,000 to $5,000) can be a cost-effective purchase when you add together equipment, installation and fuel costs for a traditional heater. Check them out.
- Energy Fact: Less energy is consumed when computers and monitors are turned on and off (as often as required) than when left on over time. In fact, all electronic devices use more energy when left on, as opposed to being turned on and off as needed.
Some bright ideas for lighting your home more efficiently.
- Turn off lights whenever you leave a room or don’t need them, even for just a few minutes.
- Save More: Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They cost more than regular light bulbs (starting at $5), but can use 75% less electricity and last years longer. One compact fluorescent bulb can save you three times its cost in electricity.
- For outside lighting, install a motion sensor that turns the lights on automatically when somebody walks by, then turns the lights off automatically after 1 to 5 minutes.
- Dimmer switches are not just a great way to set the modd, they’re an inexpensive way(starting at $10) to save energy. (Don’t use with compact fluorescent bulbs.)
- You can lower overall energy demand by concentrating bright light where you need it rather than evenly lighting the entire room – this is called ‘task lighting’.
- Opening your blinds is a free way to brighten up a room.
- For any light that must be on all night (e.g., stairways), replace the bulbs with the lowest wattage bulbs that you’re comfortable with or consider a compact fluorescent or a nightlight.
- Decorate your home with illumination in mind – lighter colours reflect light, so use them in areas you want to be bright.
- Keep light fixtures clean – a cleaner bulb is a brighter bulb.
- Energy Fact: Contrary to popular belief, less energy is consumed when lights are turned on and off as you come and go than if a light is left on all the time.