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 a biggest impact. In Adria Vasil’s new book, Ecoholic Home (being released just in time for winter!), Canada’s favourite “ecoholic” reminds us that cracking down on old energy-wasting habits around the house will ease the drain on your already-suffering bank accounts. “Just ask your grandparents,” she writes. “Savings energy, saving resources—saves you money.” Plus, reducing your energy needs will ultimately benefit your whole community.
So try these 10 small things before the snow flies:
Tip #1: Crank Down.
In winter, turn your thermostat down by two degrees and wear a sweater. It will save you $180 per year on your energy bill (and just think of the huge energy saving around the province if everyone did this).
Tip #2: Fill Up.
Ensure the dishwasher is full before you turn it on. Dishwashers are more energy and water efficient when full. Researchers have also found the machines consistently do a better job—with less water—than hand-washing.
Tip # 3: Morning Retreat.
A low-flow showerhead requires less water and, by extension, 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 range should be from 60 degrees Celsius to 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 notice the difference!
Tip # 4: A Cooler Cool.
Simply cleaning the condenser coil on your refrigerator can improve its efficiency. And the next time you’re replacing a refrigerator, look for an ENERGY STAR model, which typically has a more energy-efficient compressor, better insulation and temperature controls that offers energy savings that conventional models can’t.
Tip #5: Clean Heat.
Cleaning your furnace filter every two months can increase its efficiency by 50 percent.
Tip #6: Time it right.
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 hugely reduce your energy requirements and costs. (In fact, some provinces now raise electricity rates in the daytime (prime time), making it smarter than ever to wait until it’s late to run your appliances.)
Tip #7: Be Caulk-y.
Before you feel the full force of winter, weatherproof your home. Make sure you have enough insulation, get double-pane windows and caulk any cracks. You’ll get rid of those uncomfortable drafts and save money that was flowing out of your home with the heat.
Tip #8: Vampires Beware.
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 to the tune. This can amount to $75 in energy costs per year. Be sure to turn off your computer, too.
Tip # 9: 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 # 10: Light solutions.
Replace your home’s incandescent light bulbs with CFL (http://greenlivingonline.com/article/how-recycle-your-cfls) 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.