Following holiday splurges, you may be looking for ways to save money. Did you know that with very little effort and often no additional investment, you can make changes around your home that save up to $1,500 annually? These tips will help you reduce your electrical, heating and cooling costs all year round.
Phantom (or standby power) can account for up to 10% of your home’s energy use. The average Canadian household has 25 electronic devices that use phantom power, costing approximately $150 a year in wasted electricity (Hydro One). Unplug coffee makers, phone chargers, computers, etc. when they are not needed.
Toaster ovens use 50% to 70% less energy than a full-size oven and they won’t heat up the home to the same degree—a welcome relief on hot summer days.
Pitcher of water
Keep a pitcher of filtered water in the refrigerator to enjoy a refreshing sip without running the tap waiting for the water to get cold. This is also an economical alternative to bottled water.
Cold water wash
According to General Electric, an estimated 75% to 90% of all the energy your clothes washer uses goes to warming up the water. Cold water saves money and makes your clothes last longer. Typically, warm water is required only for bed sheets and items stained with sweat or blood.
Dry your clothes on a rack or line when possible. This saves on electricity costs and extends the life of your appliance. Consider this: a basic dryer now starts at $725 with tax and will last about a decade depending on usage. If you do two loads per week, the true cost of each dry cycle is approximately $0.70 for the machine plus $0.55 for the electricity.
If you find your clothes feel stiff from air drying, add a few tablespoons of vinegar, Epsom salts, or baking soda to the wash.
Clean filters allow for better airflow and improved machine efficiency. Each time you use your clothes dryer, wipe out the filter first. Clean or replace the filter in your furnace according to the manufacturer's instructions.
ENERGY STAR appliances
When it’s time to purchase a new appliance, choose one with a high Energy Star rating. The rating is part of a voluntary partnership between the Government of Canada and industry to make high efficiency products visible to Canadians.
Water heater insulation
For as little as $6, you can reduce heat loss from your water heater. If the tank is electric, you can use polyethylene or neoprene foam pipe covers. If you have a gas water heater, your safest choice is fiberglass pipe-wrap (at least 1-inch thick) without a facing that is secured with either wire or aluminum foil tape (U.S. Department of Energy).
If the outside of your water heater tank feels hot, it is poorly insulated. For as little as $50, you can purchase an insulated foil wrap that will pay for itself within a year.
Since hot air rises and cool air sinks, a ceiling fan can reduce your heating and cooling costs. During the summer, set the fan to rotate counterclockwise to draw up cool air. During the winter, set it to rotate clockwise to distribute heat throughout the room.
Lowering your thermostat by one degree Celsius in the winter can save you $25 per month, depending on the size of your home. Enjoy similar savings raising the thermostat by a degree in the summer.
If your home feels drafty, it may have leaks. Seal any cracks in window and door frames, walls, ceilings, and floors.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household saves about $225 in energy costs per year by using LED bulbs compared to incandescent and they last up to 25 times longer. LEDs also last longer than florescent bulbs, which release toxic mercury when they break.
Bonus tip: Compost kitchen scraps
Compost your fruit and vegetable peelings in your garden. This feeds worms and vital microorganisms in your soil reducing the need for fertilizer. You will also reduce the amount of garbage you lug to the curb each week!
Canada Greener Homes Grant money
If you wish to save even more, the Canada Greener Homes Initiative reimburses homeowners up to $600 for pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide evaluations and offers grants ranging from $125 to $5,000. Eligible retrofits include home insulation, new windows and doors, solar panels, roofing membrane, etc. To learn more, visit the Natural Resources Canada website.