No matter how well-built your home is, household energy costs seem to go nowhere but up. You can’t stop heating or cooling it, but you can control another important energy expense: electricity. Here are some ideas for savings now and in the future.
Four small changes can result in big savings on household energy costs, according to BC Hydro. Running only full loads can reduce your laundry by one load per week and save $18 a year. Switching from hot to cold water washing for three loads a week will cut your annual energy bill by $22 (hot water doesn’t get most clothes any cleaner).
If you do eight loads of laundry each week, using a clothes line for half of them saves $65 each year (hanging clothes on an indoor folding rack in the winter will also add moisture to a home’s dry air and reduce expensive wear and tear on your dryer). Ensuring your dryer is three-quarter full keeps $15 in your bank account.
Total savings: $120 per year.
It sounds scary because it is, at least for your bank account. Vampire, or standby, power is the electricity used to enable remote control activation of TVs and other devices, lets those devices power up quickly and supplies energy to run an LED display like the clock on your microwave when the device is off.
Cost of vampire power? About $150 a year for the average Canadian family, says Ontario’s Hydro One. Another surprising fact? Our electronic devices consume most of their power when they’re turned off or in sleep mode, says Hydro One. A power strip lets you disconnect multiple devices like TVs and stereo systems with just a flip of the switch.
It’s easy to cut water consumption in your home, which saves energy and helps conserve a precious resource that we often take for granted. If two people in a household reduce their showering time by just one minute, you could spend $30 less each year by using less hot water, says BC Hydro. The utility also reminds us to turn off the water when washing our hands, shaving and brushing our teeth, which can reduce hot water bill by $19 a year.
Go ENERGY STAR
When it’s time to replace appliances and other household items from dishwashers to windows and doors, shop for ENERGY STAR products. They’ll save you energy and money, according to Natural Resources Canada, which provides a list of the most energy-efficient stoves, dishwashers, ceiling fans and more. An ENERGY STAR fridge, for instance, uses 10 per cent less electricity than a standard model.
NCR also offers handy tips on corralling your energy use such as keeping your fridge away from heat sources like the sun and other appliances as well as cleaning the condenser coils (especially if you have pets) which can get clogged with debris and make the motor work harder.
More tips on household energy costs
Opening the door on your dishwasher to let the dishes air dry can cut energy use by 15 per cent, says the Government of Ontario. If you’re a time-of-use customer, says the government, you can also save electricity and money by paying attention to when you’re using power heavily – on winter weekdays, for example, avoid doing laundry before 11 a.m. because prices are at their peak from 7 to 11 in the morning. For more energy-saving tips, check Hydro Ottawa’s suggestions on everything from how to use curtains and blinds in the summer to dusting light bulbs regularly.