Here in Canada, we have a pretty extreme climate to say the least. Some days you can watch the temperature plunge below -30 degrees and then there are days like today where it’s almost 40 degrees. With the large temperature fluctuations also comes large energy bills. In the last number of years, costs to heat and cool a home have risen substantially.
Products such as solar panels and green roofs help to dramatically decrease these costs but carry a hefty price tag up front. This means that if you want to make your money back you’ll have to stay in the home for number of years before breaking out of the red and into the black. Saving energy doesn’t have to come at a large expense. By going a little green in a few different ways around the home, we can keep a little more green in our wallets. Here are a few energy saving tips for the home to help get you started:
- In the summer, keep your blinds closed during the day when you aren’t home. This will keep a lot of the sun’s heat outside your door and keep your place cooler thus making the air conditioner work less. In winter, you can do the opposite and leave the curtains open during the day. The sun will help naturally heat the home.
Tip: Keeping the shades closed in the summer will also prevent the sun from fading your hardwood floors and fabric furniture.
- Change your lights to CFL bulbs. While they are more expensive than standard bulbs, they can last up to 10X longer and only use a small percentage of the energy used by regular bulbs.
- Install a programmable thermostat. Starting under $50, this is a must install if you are still using one of the older styles. In the summer, you can program the temperature to increase a few degrees while you are away from home and then lower again 20 minutes before you arrive. You’ll never notice the difference; except on your monthly statement.
- Turn off computers and unused power bars. Computers use a lot of power even when they are in hibernation mode. Shutting them down will also make your computer last longer as it won’t have to work as hard. Although electronics are turned ‘off’ they often use what is called phantom power; which is energy used even while the system isn’t turned on. This amount may be small but when you start factoring in each electronic it can add up.
Fact: Up to 60% of the energy used by home electronics (including microwaves, televisions, radios, and stove clocks) is consumed while the appliance is not in use! If your TV has an indicator light on it to tell you it’s off, consider using a power bar or connecting it to a switchable outlet to save energy.
- Next, go find your hot water tank. You will have two pipes coming out; one for cold and one for hot. Putting foam insulation over the pipes for the first 6 feet only costs a few dollars and will save money on your water heating bill. You can take this one step further by installing an insulated blanket around your hot water tank.
- Take a look around your windows. Better yet, run your hand under water and then feel around the window frame for drafts. The water on your hand heightens your ability to feel the draft. Once a draft is found, look and see what the cause is; is the caulking damaged or cracking on the outside of the window? You can also check for drafts from electrical outlets, dryer vents and air ducts. A drafty house can increase your energy bill by as much as 25%.
Go ahead and challenge yourselves! Take a look at your last energy bill and then implement some of these ideas. You don’t have to do them all at one once and this is far from a complete list of ways you can save so add your own strategies in here as well. Start by doing one every month and I think you will notice a nice difference compared to beforehand. Nobody likes throwing money away; especially when there are lots of ways you can avoid it. Good luck and happy saving!
Toronto-based Realtor and Active Investor Mitch Parker understands a home is a lot more than just an address; it’s a lifestyle. As an expert on buying, selling and investing in Real Estate, he helps both End Users and Investors, whether new or seasoned, realize their ultimate goals.
Living in a city he loves, Mitch realizes the importance of being heavily involved in the community. Mitch has worked with organizations that are close to his heart including Habitat for Humanity and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Mitch also lends an active voice to the city’s associations of Business Improvement Areas understanding the importance of aiding in the creation of a thriving and competitive Toronto.
When he’s not thinking Real Estate, Mitch’s passions include fitness, cars and exploring the city.