With costs rising, homeowners are looking to reduce costs wherever they can. There are DIY and low cost ways to do that – some of which you’ll barely notice. Here are some energy saving tips we’ve collected from the experts:
1. Automate usage
Save On Energy recommends using a smart thermostat to reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 15 per cent. It learns your habits and adjusts the temperature automatically. You can also control a smart thermostat from an app, whether you're at home or not. Heating experts suggest setting your thermostat to 20°C when you are awake at home and 17°C when you are sleeping or out of the house. Automating your lighting can also help - install dimmer switches and motion sensors that turn off when you leave the room.
2. Pull the plug on phantom power
Many electronic devices and appliances have low consumption standby modes that makes it tempting to leave them on. However, they still use electricity. All that phantom power can add up to 10 per cent of your home's energy costs. Some solutions include unplugging electronics when not in use, plugging electronics into a power bar and switching it off or setting up a charging station with a smart power strip so you limit charging time. You can also log on to your hydro company's website to track your hourly (smart meter) data to see how much you are using at night and when you are not home.
3. Tend to your furnace
New high-efficiency furnaces use the least amount of energy, but older models can be made more efficient. Annual servicing by a professional will clean the parts you can’t see and make sure it isn’t working harder than it has to. You should replace or clean furnace filters every three months.
4. Seal leaks and drafts
According to energyrates.ca, residents can save 10 to 20 per cent on home heating and cooling by stopping uncontrolled air leaks. Check for drafts by wetting your hands and holding them around window frames and doors. If you feel cool air, you have a draft. Use caulking around frames, install or replace weatherstripping, and add a door sweep. In colder months, applying an insulating window film will increase efficiency. When not in use, keep your fireplace damper closed to prevent heat from escaping through the chimney. In addition, use foam gaskets to insulate outlets and light switches to prevent additional heat loss.
5) Improve lighting
Switch to LED bulbs, which are 75 to 90 per cent more efficient than an incandescent light bulb and they last longer. Take advantage of Mother Nature, too, and rely on natural light during the day instead of overhead lights.
6) Change your laundry routine
By choosing the cold-water setting on your washer you benefit from an up to a 90% reduction in your appliance's electricity use. If possible, try not using your dryer in favour of a drying rack when the heat is on inside or put up a clothesline if you have the space.
7) Use appliances optimally
You can use other appliances in ways that help you reduce energy use. Open the door of your dishwasher to let the load air dry which can cut the total energy use for the wash by 15 per cent. Only open the oven door when necessary. Twenty per cent of the heat escapes each time it’s opened. If you’re buying a first appliance, or replacing an old one, find out more about purchasing an ENERGY STAR certified product.
8) Use electricity when price is lower
In Ontario if you’re a time-of-use customer the two peak periods per day in the winter (November to April) is mostly when people get up in the morning and when they return home after work. When demand for electricity is highest, its cost is highest. Electricity costs are lower at night, on the weekends and statutory holidays. For example, it costs less to run the washer and dryer during the day on a weekend than a weekday.
9) Clean large appliances
When the vent at the back of the refrigerator and the clothes dryer exhaust get clogged with dust, the motors work harder, requiring more energy. Vacuum those areas a couple of times every year.
10) Use ceiling fans.
In the winter, ceiling fans need to spin clockwise on low speed. This creates an updraft that helps move warm air trapped near the ceiling back out and around the room, changing the average temperature in the living space. You and your thermostat will feel the difference from recirculating the warm air, and this will help your heating unit run less often.