Hot Tips for Energy Savings at Home
Friday Sep 21st, 2018
Many might not realize the easy steps one can undertake to save energy and effectively lower their hydro as well as gas and even water bills with relative ease and very little compromise. Lowering of heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes homeowners can do themselves.
1. Find better ways to heat and cool your house
Heating and cooling digest at least half of typical household energy use. Here are a few tips to help remedy this:
- Use ceiling fans (if you're not opposed to them in general) instead of air conditioners whenever humidity is lower to save vast amounts of electricity
- Replace HVAC (Heating Venting & Air Conditioning) filter usually located right at the furnace. A dirty filter will force the furnace to operate longer and use way more energy to pump that air through blocked passages
- Adjust and program thermostats to save energy when you’re not home or at night during summer for example. A difference of only 2 degrees Celsius can easily save about 15% on heating / cooling costs.
- If you live in rural areas for example install a wood stove or a pellet stove which are more efficient sources of heat than most forced air furnaces
- In winter at night curtains drawn over windows will improve insulation of the room.
2. Tankless or direct vent water heaters
Water heaters types as so called “on demand” (aka. tankless or instantaneous) produce hot water only as it is used. No standby energy waste here. Secondary option is to install a direct vent water heater which (although use tanks and look very similar to conventional heaters) do not use electricity to operate the power vent (getting read of exhausts produced during combustion). This type of a tank can also be operated normally when hydro is off as a bonus feature.
3. Replace/upgrade incandescent light bulbs
Typical household dedicates 10-15% of its energy budget to illumination in Canada (jumping in winter and reduced in summer seasons of course. Traditional incandescent bulbs convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light while LED CFL reduce energy use by 50% to 75%. Additional savings can by obtained by use of light controllers such as timers and dimmers for example.
- CFL use 75% less energy while lasting up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs
- LED last even longer than CFL while consuming even less energy
- LED have no moving parts and unlike CFL they contain no mercury
4. Insulating / Sealing of your house
This is a very cost-effective method of improving energy-efficiency of your house resulting in bills reduction, improving comfort and even indoor air quality.
Here are only a few of places to look for savings in this regard:
- electrical outlets
- around pipes and wires exterior openings
- wall / window-mounted air conditioning units
- attic hatches
- fireplace dampers
Since hot air rises, air leaks are most predominant at the attic. Homeowners can improve attic insulation in general (improve R value) but also tackle the problem specific areas
- Plug and rapair the large openings with insulation/drywall. Locations in the attic where leakage is most likely to be the greatest are where walls meet the attic floor, behind and under attic knee walls, and in dropped-ceiling areas.
- Seal any small openings using caulking or expandable foam for example. One can easily do this by detecting areas of insulation showing discolouration due to air movement. Winter time you may see frosty spots on the insulation caused by warm, moist air condensing/freezing while in summer same spots will show moisture stains.
- Attic access hatch as well as other panels or pull down stairs can be sealed with weatherstripping around the parameter.
5. Energy efficient bathroom fixtures upgrades
The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:
- low-flow diffused shower-heads
- low-flow toilets. Toilets can use up to 40% of the total water consumption. Older models use 3.5-gallons/flush while low-flow toilets 1.6-gallons only
- dual-flush toilets. A saving of additional 30% on average over a low-flow type.
6. Use of appliances and electronics
Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills.
- Avoid placing refrigerators or freezers near stove, dishwasher, heat registers, or allow exposure to direct sunlight.
- Shut off computers, monitors, charging devices (by unplugging ideally) to save additional 3%
- Use efficient ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and electronics.
- Laptop computers are more energy efficient than desktop computers.
7. Use daylight instead of electrical light whenever possible or practical
Natural light to illuminate the home's interior can lead to substantial savings as well using different techniques such as:
- skylights light
- shelves / reflective devices
- clerestory windows located strategically
- light tubes / diffusers
8. Windows and doors
Approximately 30% of heat loss occures through doors and windows.
- Seal window frames with caulking
- Use or replace weatherstripping
- Storm windows and doors can help on older type doors/windows
- Replace older wood frame type windows for new generation vinyl, aluminum or fibreglass types with high energy rated panes
9. Smart use of everyday appliances such as stoves, washers and dryers
An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking for example. Here are a few ways to improve your consumption:
- Use convection ovens over conventional ovens to save 20% energy
- Microwave ovens use 80% less energy than conventional ovens
- Use correct sized heating elements for the pan/pot (also use lids). Use of pressure cookers save energy as well
- Preheat oven only for minimum required time
- Do not use the medium setting on your washer. Wash full load of clothes, as the medium setting saves less than half of the water and energy used for a full load
- Avoid using high-temperature settings when washing
- Clean the dryer lint trap to save energy and prevent fire hazard as well
- Air drying clothes and using spin cycle before using dryer shortens the cycle
Implementation of these simple steps can help save energy at home in a meaningful way while being easier not only on your wallet but also the environment. For additional information feel free to contact your local energy auditor or experienced home inspector.