The temperature is dropping rapidly and energy bills are rising just as quickly. There are things you can do to decrease costs that are easy. Ok, some tips aren’t exactly convenient, but if you are dedicated to keeping your bill manageable or helping to save resources at the same time you’ll find them to be worth the minor inconvenience. Here are 11 tips you can follow to cut your energy consumption this winter.
1. Adjust the thermostat by two degrees. Just this small change can save you up to $200 over the course of a year. In the winter make it two degrees colder than your normal setting and put on a sweater. In summer, make it two degrees warmer and opt for cooler clothing.
2. Use the dishwasher. Experts have found that dishwashers do a better job of washing dishes and use less water than washing by hand so opt for the machine instead, just make sure it’s full before you run it through. You'll not only save water but the energy used to heat the water too. Use a rinse aid to keep spots off dishes and opt for air drying instead of heat drying.
3. Do full loads of laundry. Multiple small loads will use more water and energy so make your loads as large as possible. Also, try to do several loads in a row to take advantage of the already warm dryer after the first load. It will save on heating and drying time which in turn saves money.
4. Insulate your water heater. Putting a water heater blanket around your tank will help to keep the heat in the tank and reduce the need to heat as often. You can also turn down the temperature on the tank to 60 - 65 degrees Celsius. It will still be plenty hot for your morning shower and you’ll be saving energy.
5. Clean your refrigerator. When was the last time you cleaned the condenser coil on your refrigerator? Did a blank look just come over your face? Most people don’t know that they need to vacuum dust off the coils in order for a refrigerator to run more efficiently. You should do this about every six months or at the very minimum annually. Also, don’t pack your refrigerator and freezer full of food. Allowing the cool air to circulate freely will also increase the efficiency and decrease energy consumption. If you have a very old refrigerator that has seen better days, replace it with a new Energy Star model which has a more efficient compressor and better insulation.
6. Replace your furnace filter every two months. Set up a reminder on your phone or computer if you need to but remembering to do this regularly will improve your furnace efficiency by 50 percent. That’s huge!
7. Plug up drafts. You can make a big difference with a small tube of caulk by sealing up the edges of your windows to prevent cold air from creeping in. Even better, replace single pane windows with double pane. The cost of the upgrade will pay for itself quickly through reduced energy costs.
8. Stop the energy drain. This is for the super serious conserver because most people probably won’t do it. Unplug things when they aren’t being used such as coffee pots, TV’s, and turn off your computer. You can save between $50 to $80 per year. However, most of us are use to response to our whims at any moment from our home electronics so you might choose to focus on insulation upgrades and consumption timing.
9. Speaking of timing, you can save money if you do chores that use the most energy either late at night (after 10 pm) or early in the morning (before 7 am). Some provinces raise the rates for daytime consumption so you save money by doing these activities in the off-peak hours. Doing laundry, dishwashing and even showering in off-peak hours will make a difference.
10. Get energy efficient lighting. Are you still using incandescent light bulbs? Replace them with CFL or LED bulbs. You’ll get the same amount of light with less wattage and save a lot of energy. Plus, incandescent bulbs put off most of their energy as heat which can increase the temperature in a room as well as cooling costs.
11. Have your home efficiency evaluated. If you live in a home that is more than 25 years old, have it checked for energy leaks, drafts and inadequate insulation by an insulation expert. Things such as properly insulating an attic or attached garage can make a difference in your overall monthly energy expenses.