How to stay warm and energy-efficient this winter
Approximately 60 per cent of the energy consumed by an average home is used for heating and cooling. In the winter months, staying warm is our primary concern. Several consecutive days of extreme cold weather of -25°C or more can put added stress on your home heating and energy costs.
While you can’t control the weather, here are some simple measures you can take to reduce the effects of the cold winter on your electricity bills.
Eliminate cold drafts
- Install weather stripping around doors and windows, and foam gaskets in wall outlets.
- Open curtains and shades on sunny days to allow the sun to naturally warm your home; close window coverings at night to help keep warm air inside.
- Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan to push warm air downward.
- Check your attic – if you have less than 150 mm (15 cm) of insulation, install more.
Turn off electronics and lighting
- Plug your electronics into a power bar, and turn it off when not in use.
- Visiting family for the holidays or going on a sunny vacation? Unplug non-essential electronics such as televisions, microwaves, computers, etc.
- Save energy and make your bulbs last longer by using indoor and outdoor timers, motion detectors and dimmer switches for lights.
- Use LED holiday lights, and replace indoor and outdoor incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LED light bulbs, which use up to 75 per cent less energy.
Control temperature and time-of-use
- Turn down your thermostat – lowering the temperature a degree or two can help you save on energy costs.
- Use programmable thermostats to maintain comfortable temperatures – 20°C to 21°C when you are at home; 18°C when you are asleep or away.
- Programmable thermostats are also available for electric baseboard heaters.
- Shift use of electric appliances such as dishwashers, dryers and ovens to off-peak price periods – 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays, and all day on weekends and holidays.
Maintain heating equipment
- Change your furnace filter regularly and keep vents clear of furniture and appliances for optimum operating efficiency.
- An annual furnace inspection by an HVAC professional can save on costly repairs.
- Wrap your electric hot water tank with a water heater blanket to reduce energy loss by up to 40 per cent, especially if your tank is more than 10 years old.
- If finances permit, replace your old inefficient furnace, water heater, appliances, windows and doors with new ENERGY STAR® certified models for year round savings and comfort.
We have Save on Energy coupons for many of these easy do-it-yourself projects that will help to reduce your home electricity costs. Visit the Ontario Ministry of Energy website for more winter energy-saving tips.