Canada can get very cold. While we have a big country with surprisingly different climates – a lot of money gets spent heating homes in the winter. Money that could be better spent in other areas of our lives.
There is no quick-fix for saving money on your energy bill. But there are a few things that you can do now that can make your home more energy efficient, and save you dollars in the long run.
While situations vary, there are likely one or two winter energy saving tips that you can implement in your own home. If you want to save money and energy, here is where you should start looking:
1. Turn down the thermostat
While you don’t want to turn your thermostat off during the winter months, it is a big contributor to both your energy consumption and your bills. If you’re looking to save energy this winter, turning it down and choosing where in your house to heat should be on the top of your list.
How much can you save by adjusting your thermostat?
You’d be surprised how much turning down the thermostat a few degrees can save, and you don’t have to have it cool all day. Canadians who turn their thermostat down from 21C to 16C at night can save as much as 10 per cent on their energy bill.
The best part is, you don’t have to remember to turn it down on your own. Roughly 90 per cent of Canadians have a programmable thermostat that they can use to set predetermined times for the temperature to dip. While it varies based on your personal preference, setting your thermostat between 20C and 22C during the day, and 16C and 18C at night, can make a world of difference! Just put on that extra thick blanket at night to keep you warm.
You’ll also want to consider not heating areas of your home that aren’t insulated in the winter. Areas like your garage can be a big contributor to your bill if it’s not insulated. But other areas like your attic, storage space, and shed, can all waste unnecessary energy.
Make sure, however, that spaces with piping are well heated. You don’t want your pipes to freeze and create cracks and leads when the weather warms up.
2. Look at your electronics
Your electronics use more energy than you think they do. Now, no one is telling you not to use your laptop or that you need to conserve energy by texting less – but there are a few ways your electronics can help you cut back.
While it depends on the exact devices you have, here are a few quick stats:
- The average laptop uses less energy than a desktop computer. Laptops use an average of 20 to 50 watts of electricity.
- Smartphones use between 2 and 6 watts of power each time they’re charged
- Modern TVs use 58.6 watts of power on average when on
- The Nintendo Switch uses roughly 10 to 18 watts per hour
- Newer Xboxes use between 65 and 85 watts per hour
- Hairdryers use roughly 300 watts every 15-minutes
Using your electronics mindfully can help not only reduce your power consumption but also your energy bill. There are a few ways you can do this:
Use dark mode and turn screen brightness down
Regardless of whether you’re messaging on your phone or watching TV, how bright the screen’s device is impacts how much power it uses. Turning your phone screen’s brightness down to half can save you up to 16 per cent of battery life.
Using your device in dark mode with screen brightness at 100 per cent can save somewhere between 39 and 47 per cent of your battery life. Consider also unplugging your devices when you’re not using them.
It turns out simply turning off a device doesn’t mean that it stops using energy. Even off, devices like your TV or phone that are plugged in are still using energy.
How much do personal electronics cost per year in electricity usage?
EnergyRates.ca calculated how much money your stand-by electronics are costing you, and came up with the following on average numbers:
- LCD TV — $2.11 per year
- Honeywell portable fan — $24.84 per year
- Phone charger — $1.55 per year
- Microsoft Xbox — $10.83 per year
- Sony PlayStation 4 — $5.80 per year
While those might not look like a lot individually, they really add up when you think about how many devices you leave plugged in. Let’s be honest though, you don’t want to be unplugging a bunch of devices all the time – that’s where power strips come in. If you’re using power strips, it’s as simple as unplugging one thing when you’re done using your electronics.
3. Seal your house
Any hole, no matter how small, is an opportunity for cash (in the form of warm air) to go floating out of your home. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small slit under the front door or an improperly sealed window. The cool air sliding out of your home lowers the indoor temperature which, in turn, makes your furnace work harder, costing you more money.
With that in mind, get ready before the cold weather settles in by sealing drafts. Didn’t have time in the Fall to prep your home for winter? That’s ok! It’s not too late and still worth it to save for the rest of the season. This is a good way to save both energy and money. Seal holes, add insulation, and replace inefficient windows to make your home more eco-friendly and drop your overall heating bill.
4. Practice preventative maintenance
Canadian homes are heated in a multitude of ways from natural gas to electric and more. This depends if you have a newer or older home as well as which city you live in. Electric heating pumps are reported as being more energy efficient than using natural gas. Solar is more efficient than both, as is geothermal energy, but both are more rare.
Tips for making your home more energy efficient on a budget
Unfortunately, not everyone has the cash for the upfront costs of changing their heating system to something that’s greener. However, there are still ways you can make your home more energy efficient and cut down on your long-term power bill:
- Regularly inspect your heating system to make sure it’s working properly.
- Optimize your airflow – change the direction of ceiling fans in the winter months so they’re pulling cool air towards the ceiling.
- Unblock air vents – keep furniture and appliances away from your vent openings so they don’t have to work harder.
- When you upgrade, go efficient – no one is saying go out and replace all your appliances right now, but when it is time to upgrade prioritize efficiency to save in the long run.
- Add insulation to your attic – insulating your attic can help regulate the temperature in your home.
Tip: Check your eligibility and apply for Canada Greener Homes Grant to receive financial support from the government on energy efficient retrofits.
Save energy, save money
Yes, making your home more energy efficient to preserve the environment around you is important – but helping your pocketbook tends to be a tad bit more motivating. Luckily, saving energy does both!
Canada is cold, and while that might be the butt of a lot of movie jokes, it’s also true. Keeping your living space warm and comfortable in the winter can be expensive. But taking a few small measures might just help you save a few extra dimes.