The Seven Simple Ways to Cut Your Energy Bill This Winter

These easy tips on staying warm as the season cools can save you money.

Finding ways to cut your electricity bill doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s the simple choices we make that can have the biggest impact. In Adria Vasil’s book, Ecoholic Home, Canada’s favourite “ecoholic” reminds us that cracking down on old energy-wasting habits around the house will help ease the drain on your bank account. “Just ask your grandparents,” she writes. “Saving energy, saving resources—saves you money.” Plus, reducing your energy needs will ultimately benefit your whole community.

So try these 7 small things before the snow falls:

Tip #1: Crank It Down

In winter, turn your thermostat down by two degrees and wear a sweater. Honestly, it will save you $180 per year or more on your energy bill (and just think of the huge energy savings around your province if everyone did this). Some even say it saves you 5% on your bill for every degree you crank it down!

Tip #2: Morning and Evening Retreat

A low-flow shower head requires less water and therefore needs less heat to warm the water. You can also insulate your water tank and set the thermostat two degrees lower to save energy. The ideal range is between 60 and 65 degrees Celsius. If you have a set thermostat, this range is midway between “warm normal” or “low medium”. We assure you, you’ll never even notice the difference.

Did you know that you can also save up to 8 gallons of water a day simply by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth in the morning and at night. That adds up to a lot of water savings! Do the same while you shave, and save even more!

Tip #3: Clean Heat

Cleaning your furnace filter every two months can increase its efficiency by 50 percent. Seriously. We know, that’s simple!

Tip #4: Timing is Everything

Install a timer on your water heater and furnace to turn it off at night and back on just before you wake up in the morning.

Few people realize that waiting to do electricity-heavy activities (such as laundry or showering) before 7 am and after 10 pm can reduce your energy usage and costs dramatically. In fact, most provinces now raise electricity rates in the daytime or prime time, making it smarter than ever to wait until later to run your appliances. Check with your energy provider and see how you can save.

Here’s an example of Power Stream’s guidelines for saving on your energy bill.

Winter - November 1, 2011 - April 30, 2012

Times:

TOU Period:

TOU Price:

Weekends & holidays:

All day

Off-peak

$0.062 per kWh

2011 Holiday Schedule for Time-of-Use Prices»

Weekdays:

7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

On-peak

$0.108 per kWh

11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Mid-peak

$0.092 per kWh

5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

On-peak

$0.108 per kWh

7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.

Off-peak

$0.062 per kW

Tip #5: Beware of Phantoms

Unplug home electronics when you’re not using them. Most of them have features that make them easier to use—instant-on TVs, for instance—that also suck up electricity, even when they’re not in use. This can amount to $75 in energy costs per year. Be sure to turn off your computer too, when you are finished with it for the day.

Here’s an interesting computer fact:

If all computers sold in the U.S. met ENERGY STAR requirements, the savings in energy costs would grow to $1.8 billion each year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from more than 2 million vehicles.

Tip #6: Dry Smart

Dry two or more loads of laundry in a row to take advantage of an already warm dryer. Remove clothes from the dryer when they’re still warm to prevent wrinkling. And, clean the lint filter before every load. A clogged filter can increase energy use by up to 30 percent and also present a safety hazard.

Tip #7: Light Solutions

Replace your home’s incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs. You’ll save energy with the lower wattage it takes to power the bulb but also from reduced cooling costs—incandescent bulbs give off 90 percent of their energy as heat.

Hope some of these help you save even more this winter. We’d love you to share your favourite energy saving tips with us. It helps us all.

editor@green-living.ca

Photo: veer.com/Fancy Photography