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13 ways to save energy at home

We need energy in the home to keeps things at a comfortable temperature, cook our food, clean our dishes, wash our clothes and power our electronics. While everything at home hums along nicely, our monthly bills remind us how much energy we are consuming and what it really costs. Fortunately there are many ways to reduce our power consumption and lower those bills.

Let’s take a look at some ideas for saving energy at home.

1. Buy energy-efficient appliances

Refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, washers and dryers are the heaviest energy users in the home. It is well worth it to replace them with newer, energy-conscious models. Look for the ENERGY STAR® symbol to find the best energy-efficient appliances.

2. Control your environment

Your thermostat can help you save energy when used properly. Set your thermostat to heat and cool your home only when it’s necessary. A good guideline is to set it at 20°C in the winter during the day, lowering it to 18°C when your household is sleeping or after everyone leaves for work. In the summer, you can save on air conditioning by raising it to 22°C or higher during the day.

If you find it inconvenient to manually adjust the thermostat, consider a programmable thermostat, which can be pre-programmed to raise and lower the temperature automatically so you don’t have to think about it.

3. Use appliances during off-peak hours

Peak hours for appliance use are typically noon to 7 pm with the heaviest usage being 2 pm. Some utility companies charge higher rates during peak times, so if you run your dishwasher, washer and dryer with full loads at off-peak times, you could score some savings.

4. Reduce phantom power

If a small appliance such as a toaster is plugged into the wall but not in operation, is it still using power? Yes. Phantom or standby power can account for 10% of an average household's annual electricity use. Unplug electronics and appliances when they are not in use. That includes your cell phone. Unplug your phone from the charger – and the charger from the wall when your phone is fully charged.

For convenience, use power bars for appliances or electronics. You can turn off multiple items with a single switch eliminating the draw of phantom power.

5. Plug water and air leaks

Not only are leaky faucets and toilets annoying, they are literally pouring money down the drain. Fix leaky faucets and toilets to conserve water, save energy and cut energy bills.

Visually inspect your home’s doors and windows. Old, cracked caulking could be letting air escape. Can you see daylight around your doors and window frames? That’s another indicator of air leaks. Use caulking and weather stripping to plug air leaks.

6. Conserve water

Use efficient showerheads and take shorter showers. Don’t run water when brushing your teeth or shaving.

Install tap aerators on all your faucets. They inject air into the water as it comes out of the tap reducing the amount of water being used. Don’t wash or pre-rinse dishes under running water. Fill the sink and work from there.

7. Practice brighter light use

Replace old incandescent lights with CFL bulbs or LEDs. Energy-saving light bulbs can last up to 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb, and use up to 75% less energy.

Turn off room lights when there is no one in the room, or when you can see just fine with natural sunlight. Use table lamps or desk lamps for specific tasks rather than overhead room lights.

Use motion detector lights outdoors. There’s no point in leaving lights on if no one is there to benefit from them.

8. Beef up the insulation

Add insulation to the attic and any walls. Put piping insulation around hot and cold water pipes and the water tank.

9. Cook with less energy in the kitchen

Cook or reheat food in the microwave instead of the stove. (Don’t use plastic wrap or dishes in the microwave.) A microwave takes 15 minutes to do the same job as one hour in an oven.

If you need to boil water, use an electric kettle with an auto shutoff rather than a stovetop element. It will boil faster and use less energy.

Match the size of the stovetop burner to the size of the pot or pan. Putting a small pan on a huge burner wastes electricity. Keep lids on pots when cooking. Resist opening the oven door to check on food until it’s done cooking. This allows heat to escape and the oven needs to work harder to reheat to the desired temperature.

Run the dishwasher with a full load, and skip the heat-dry setting. Let the dishes air dry.

10. Have a less expensive laundry day

Wash full loads only - unless your washer has a setting for a small load. Use cold water to wash a normal (less-soiled) load. Hang dry your laundry when possible to save dryer energy.

11. Close the curtains on energy loss

Install heavy curtains or blinds to prevent heat from escaping out of your home. Close them at night to keep your space cozy, and open them in daytime to harness the warmth of the sun.

12. Let the warm air flow

Avoid blocking your heating vents with furniture. This prevents the warm air from flowing freeing around the room.

If you use a ceiling fan, make sure it blows air down in the winter and up in the summer. You may need to turn the blades around to achieve this.

13. Take advantage of provincial government programs to save even more

The Alberta government recently introduced the Energy Efficiency Program offering homeowners a no-charge inspection and free product upgrades including energy-efficient LED lights, high-efficiency showerheads, faucet aerators, power bars and self-adjusting thermostats.

Many provinces have introduced energy efficiency programs to help homeowners save energy.

Discover more provincial energy rebate and grant programs here.

Everyone is looking for ways to make our hard-earned dollar go further. Put our energy-saving tips into practice and you’ll be rewarded with lower energy bills and more money in your bank account.

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