We lead busy lives and probably don't realize that repairing the cracks in our fireplace and turning off the oven just a few minutes earlier can really help conserve energy.
Do you have any energy saving tips to share?
Recent power outages in North America are a reminder of how extensively we depend on electricity to function. Among other things, it provides light and heat, keeps our food cool and brings the world into our homes through our televisions and computers. As the demand for power has increased, so has the incidence of blackouts and price increases in some parts of the country. Homeowners have a strong incentive to save energy and money but often don't know where to start. The following are some simple ways to plug the 'money drains' around your home.
- Keep your hot water thermostat set at 110-120 C (most are set at 140 C).
- Install an automatic timer so that water is heated only during the hours needed.
- Wash clothing in cold or warm water rather than hot water.
- Insulate your water heater with a fire resistant water heater blanket.
- Install an aerator on your kitchen sink faucet to save on hot water.
- Reduce water usage by installing a low-flow showerhead.
- "Suds savers" on washers allow you to reuse hot water for multiple loads.
- Consider heating your pool (and your home) with solar heat.
- Close off the attic, garage, basement, spare bedrooms, storage areas, etc.
- Insulate floors over unheated spaces such as crawl spaces and the garage.
- Install storm doors before cold weather arrives.
- Repair cracks and gaps in window seals (the putty around the glass).
- Seal gaps around water pipes where cold air may enter the room.
- If you have single pane windows, upgrade to energy efficient double panes.
- Don't forget to weather-strip your attic door to prevent heat from escaping.
- Remind your children to close the door immediately upon entering or exiting.
- Repair cracks and gaps in your fireplace.
- Remove awnings from south-facing windows during winter months.
- Open draperies and shades in winter to let in sunshine then close them at night.
- Use insulating window film to keep heat from escaping to the outdoors.
- Plant leafy deciduous trees on the sunny side of your house - the leaves will provide shade in the summer and drop to allow sun through in the winter.
- Plant coniferous trees (e.g. fir, pine) on the north and west side of your home to block cold winds.
- Choose pots and pans that match the element size so that heat is not wasted.
- Cook with lids on your pots - food will heat more evenly and you will be able to lower the heat setting.
- Plan ahead so that an entire meal can be prepared in the oven at same time.
- Cook desserts and baked goods in the oven along with meals.
- Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator before cooking.
- Turn off the oven 5 minutes early - it will remain hot long enough to complete the job if the door is left closed.
- Don't peek in the oven during cooking -approximately 25% of the heat escapes.
- Use a toaster oven rather than your regular oven to cook small items.
- Run the dishwasher only when it is full.
- Don't overfill the refrigerator, as this blocks air circulation. Conversely, a full freezer will perform better than an empty one.
- Don't place your refrigerator or freezer in direct sunlight.
- Leave a gap of at least 6cm between the refrigerator coils and the wall.
- Defrost your freezer regularly for maximum efficiency.
- Clean the refrigerator's air intake grill (below the doors) and coils every 6 months.
- Allow hot foods to cool for up to 20 minutes before putting them in the refrigerator.
- Choose a temperature setting for your freezer that is adequate and not overly cold.
- Use task lighting where you need it rather than illuminating an entire room.
- Compact florescent bulbs use approximately 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last longer.*
- Turn off lights whenever you leave a room or don't need them.
- Use a motion sensor light rather than leaving an outdoor light on all night.
- Open up the curtains for light. If privacy is an issue, try sheers or reflective film.
- Wash your clothes in cold or warm water rather than hot water.
- Rinsing in cold water saves energy and reduces wrinkles.
- Wait until you have a full load to do a wash.
- Dry consecutive loads to utilize otherwise wasted heat from the dryer.
- Clean the lint filter after every load - a clogged filter can increase energy consumption and can be a fire hazard.
- Check the EnerGuide labels when you shop for appliances - the lower the kilowatt/hour number shown, the more efficient the appliance.
- Front-loading washers use roughly half the water per load and are more effective at squeezing the water out of the clothes - which lowers the electricity costs for drying them.
Saving energy and money doesn't require a drastic change in lifestyle. Even small changes around our homes can make a difference.
* Compact florescent bulbs last up to eight times longer than incandescent bulbs and use up to 75% less energy. If every household in British Columbia replaced just two regular incandescent bulbs with compact florescent bulbs, enough energy would be saved to provide the electricity needs of 21,000 homes each year. (Source: BC Hydro)