01 Nov 11 Quick Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
Here are some simple tricks that save you energy and money. Improving your home’s energy efficiency doesn’t have to involve expensive upgrades or long renovations. With a few tweaks to your habits and a little DIY, you can make your home more comfortable and save some money.
Tune and check up your furnace
New high-efficiency furnaces use the least amount of energy and older models can also be made more efficient as well. Annual servicing by a professional is the first step which involves cleaning the parts you can’t see or reach and making sure it isn’t working harder than it has to.
Be sure to replace filters every three months — sooner if you have done renovations or have pets — as this ensures air moves easily into the unit and also prolongs its life.
Wrap up the water heater
You would be surprised how much heat your water heater loses. On-demand water heaters are often the most efficient choice since water isn’t being heated when not in use.
For electric hot water tanks try wrapping it in an insulating blanket to reduce heat loss. You can purchase one at a local hardware store.
Hot air can escape through joints in ductwork. That means you are paying to heat places you don’t want to (for instance, an unfinished basement) and not getting heat to areas you do (upper floor rooms). Applying heating-vent tape to all visible joints will help.
Test windows and doors
Without an airtight seal for your windows and doors, you are wasting energy when heating and cooling your home. Check for drafts by holding a lit candle around window frames and doors. If it flickers, you have a draft.
Use caulking around frames, install or replace weather stripping, and add a door sweep. In colder months, exterior window film will increase efficiency even further.
Use ceiling fans
Ceiling fans are great when you want to cool individual rooms such as a bedroom or study and not the whole house with the air conditioner, especially at night. Ceiling fans will also help in cold months as most come with a “reverse” option that pushes hot air down into the room.
Run large appliances during off-peak hours
The washer, dryer, and dishwasher all use a lot of energy and often run for long periods. Try shifting your schedule to wash clothes or dishes during off-peak hours, typically after 7 PM or anytime on weekends when energy costs are at their lowest. Also, consider using the air-dry option on the dishwasher and washing clothes on a shorter cycle.
Check out our recent blog post on “Simple Home Improvement to Save Money and Energy!” to learn more about Time of Use rating in Ontario.
Install a clothesline
Dryers can account for up to 6% of a home’s total energy use. Hang your clothes outside in warm months and inside to air dry during the winter when possible.
Clean large appliances
When the vent at the back of the refrigerator and the clothes dryer exhaust get clogged with dust, the motors work harder, requiring more energy. Vacuum those areas a couple times a year.
A programmable thermostat can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 10% if you adjust the temperature for the hours you are out of your home or sleeping. For lights, install dimmer switches and motion sensors that turn off when you leave the room.
Check out Ontario’s GreenON’s Smart Thermostat Rebate Program where you may be eligible to get a rebate if you purchase one for your home!
Fight phantom power consumption
Plug countertop appliances and electronics into a power bar and program it to switch off at night. Remember that televisions, cable boxes, PVRs and game consoles consume energy even when not in use. If you have them all on a single power bar, it’s easy to switch off before everyone goes to bed or look into purchasing power bars with timers or motion sensors. That will help cut phantom power consumption when it is not in use or no one is in the room.
Watch the chargers
Plugged in chargers draw power even when no device is attached. Once your phone, tablet or other devices are fully charged, unplug it. The plug will draw energy if you don’t.