It’s time to get smart about heating as the cost of living rises.
While the average homeowner or renter can’t control market prices of gas or electricity, there are ways to control what we use. Energy market analysts predict Canadian home energy costs will climb dramatically this winter, due to a combination of climate, domestic supply, global demand and other factors.
According to Martin Hrobsky, the vice president of public affairs at market research firm Ipsos, Canadians' anxiety levels are rising as well.
"Canadians are very concerned about the rising cost of living. In fact, inflation is the second most important issue to Canadians right now, just slightly behind health care," Hrobsky told CTVNews.ca recently. "About half of Canadians told us they are concerned about their ability to pay rising utility costs this winter."
When asked by Ipsos which areas of inflation would have the greatest impact on their quality of life, 37 per cent of survey respondents listed rising electricity and natural gas prices. Hrobsky said those who use electricity to heat their homes, would be impacted most.
However, Hrobsky told CTV the rising cost of natural gas due to inflation and the war in Ukraine will mean that "even those who use natural gas, which is historically more cost-effective, will feel the pinch this winter."
According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) home heating accounts for 63.6 per cent of the energy used in homes. That means homeowners need to look for ways to keep out the chill and control costs. According to EnergyRates.ca, residents can save 10 to 20 per cent on home heating and cooling bills by sealing uncontrolled air leaks. Natural Resources Canada states air leaks via chimneys, vents, plumbing pipes and electrical boxes in the attic can also account for substantial heat loss.
Enbridge Gas, Canada’s largest natural gas storage, transmission and distribution company based in Ontario, serves approximately 3.8 million residents and businesses. They offer these recommendations to help reduce your heating costs:
No-cost DIY tips
- Save energy by lowering your home’s temperature by two or three degrees. Set your thermostat to 20°C when you are awake at home and 17°C when you are sleeping or out of the house. Energyrates.ca reports setting the temperature one degree lower in the winter can yield up to five per cent in savings.
- Clean or change your furnace filter regularly. See more maintenance tips.
- Keep air vents and baseboards dust-free and unobstructed by carpets or furniture.
- Keep your fireplace damper closed to prevent heat from escaping through the chimney.
- During cold weather, keep curtains open during the day to allow the sun’s heat in and insulate against heat loss. Close them at night.
- Layer up. Instead of turning the thermostat up, put on a sweater or a blanket and some warm socks.
- Use thick rugs to make floors feel less cold and reduce the need to turn up the heat.
Low-cost DIY tips
- Schedule an annual furnace inspection with a qualified professional.
- Install a programmable or smart thermostat—it adjusts automatically to save energy. Let an ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostat do the work for you.
- Caulk and weatherstrip around windows and doors to eliminate drafts.
- Use heat-shrink plastic on windows to help keep the heat in.
- Prevent heat loss by using foam gaskets to insulate outlets and light switches.
- Seal the seams of heating ducts with foil tape to prevent air from escaping.
- Add insulation to your walls to improve comfort and efficiency and protect against moisture.
- Install energy-efficient windows to stop heat loss.
- Get an energy audit done. This will give you a real sense of how much energy your home loses. It will also give you a more accurate sense of how large your heating system has to be if you are considering replacing it.
- Look for retrofit rebates. There are many grants and funding opportunities across Canada for homeowners planning energy-efficient home improvements. You can find federal grants and rebates on the NRCAN website, but some municipalities offer these as well.
- If you’re purchasing a new natural gas furnace, consider a modulating type. Instead of churning out heat as soon as the temperature drops, a modulating furnace will top things up gradually, which uses less energy.
With files from CTVNews.ca
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