Canadians use energy to heat water, operate appliances and cool, heat and light their homes. Heating and cooling account for much of the total household energy usage, but households can keep your electricity bill check in line over the winter.
They also use a great deal of energy for running appliances and other devices. Sources of energy include natural gas (47% of households), electricity (37%), oil, propane and wood.
The rising costs of natural gas and electricity as well as their impact on the environment call for householders to curb their energy consumption to cut energy costs and reduce their environmental impact. Factors such as household size, climate and fuel prices affect energy consumption.
Keep Your Electricity Bill Check In Line
In spite of these factors, every household could implement steps to reduce overall energy consumption and watch your electricity bill check. Consider the following suggestions to watch your electricity bill check and save money on your electricity this winter.
Cut Phantom Power
A great deal of your energy consumption might be due to phantom power, which is the electricity that keeps electronics on standby. Your computer, microwave, television, game console, cordless phone and other plugged-in devices use energy even when you turn them off.
While they won’t consume a lot individually, the phantom loads add up collectively over time and account for 15% of your overall electricity usage. A programmable power bar presents one of the simplest solutions for reducing phantom power. Use it to charge your electronics, and then turn them off in one click.
Change Your Lights
Switch to compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs and use 75 percent less energy than your standard bulbs. The average Canadian household has approximately 30 light fixtures, which can add up to $250 for lighting every year.
Replace the bulbs in high traffic areas, and you’ll save at least $30 yearly. CFLs cost more than standard bulbs, but they last longer and pay for themselves in energy savings in a few months. Remember to turn off the lights in vacant rooms, and you’ll save even more on your electricity bills and keep those energy bills in check.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
Turn down the dial on your heating and hot-water temperatures, and you’ll see a substantial reduction in your energy bill without affecting your comfort. Program the thermostat to stay at 17°C to 18°C during the winter months and put on a light sweater until you’re comfortable with the temperature.
If you use your air conditioner in the summer, set your temperature to 25°C and opt for the fan whenever possible. Swamp coolers are also helpful in hot, dry climates as they reduce the effects of the summer heat while adding moisture to the dry air. With the right settings, a programmable thermostat can reduce your heating and cooling costs by 10 percent annually.
Cut your energy costs by 45 percent when you run your dryer during off-peak hours. Clean out the lint trap to improve dryer efficiency. For even more savings, you can skip the dryer altogether in the summer months and hang your clothes on a line outdoors.
Weatherproof Your Home
Make sure the energy you pay for doesn’t go out the window. Apply window treatments to minimize heat loss in the winter and keep the heat out during hot summer months. Target all windows especially those that get the most sunlight.
Weather-stripping around the doors, air-conditioners, fireplace dampers and the attic is also essential as it reduces draft, which could reduce your heating costs by 30 percent. When repairing or replacing your roof, use lighter colors to reflect heat from the sun away from your home.
Adopt R-2000 Standards
New homes built to R-2000 standards cost more, but they use two-thirds the energy used by standard homes. Purchase an approved R-2000 standard home, and you’ll save money on your utility bills and boost resale value. If you’re not in the market for a new home, request estimates for bringing your current home up to standard. Sunshine Renewable Energy offers risk-free assessments to help homeowners determine their maximum energy savings after installing energy-saving appliances and improving energy efficiency.
Switch to Energy Star Appliances
Appliances with the Energy Star label are more efficient than their energy-guzzling counterparts. The Energy Star label is everywhere and is visible on washers, dryers, boilers, air conditioning systems, refrigerators, homes and small appliances. The appliances initially cost more, but their energy-efficient operation provides long term savings of 30 to 50 percent on annual energy consumption.
Take simple steps to upgrade your home and pay attention to your energy consumption, and you’ll save a lot on your home energy costs and keep your bills in check.
Matt Kearne is always on the lookout for ways to cut costs. When he finds them, he likes to share them with others. You can find his informative articles on a variety of websites and blogs.