1. Ensure Home Ventilation, Cooling System and Appliances are in top shape
You will most certainly use a lot less energy with a newer high-efficiency furnace, air conditioner and appliances, but it may not be in the budget although many areas provide some lucrative Government incentives and rebates for replacing old inefficient appliances. In the meantime your older models can also be made more energy efficient by doing the annual servicing with a knowledgeable professional.
You should also make sure that your ducts and major appliances key running parts are clean so that your equipment isn’t working harder than it should. Make sure that air moves easily into and out of the unit. Good maintenance will help the equipment run efficiently and prolong its’ life. Make sure that you replace filters at least every three months. Do it more frequently if you are doing home renovations or if you you have pets.
The vents at the rear of the refrigerator and the clothes dryer exhaust can get clogged with dust. This is not only a fire hazard but the equipment has to work harder to perform. When motors are working harder they are heating up and require more energy to run. Make sure that you vacuum and clean the vents and exhausts every three to four months.
2. Wrap up your water heater and water pipes
The most efficient choice for hot water production are on-demand water heaters since water isn’t being heated until it is needed. If you have electric, oil or gas water heating, make sure that you wrap the tank and water pipes with insulating blanket and pipe insulators which will greatly reduce heat loss.
3. Seal leaks
Air (hot or cold) can escape through many places in a home. One are many people miss is in joints in the duct work. With too many leaks in the ducts, you end up paying to heat/cool places that you don’t want to like your unfinished basement or the great outdoors. Leaks reduce the amount of heating or cooling going to the areas that you do want to reach. It is easy to find and apply a heating-vent tape to all of the visible joints to help seal leaks.
You are wasting a lot of energy when heating a home that leaks. A majority of heat/cooling loss is through leaky windows and doors. You can easily check for drafts by holding a lit candle to see if it flickers around your window frames and doors. If it does then you know that you have a draft. Install or replace weather stripping add a door sweep and add or replace caulking around all of the frames indoors and out. In colder months consider exterior window film to increase efficiency.
Have an energy audit done by a professional to check for leaks and have your insulation in walls and the roof checked – some insulation may settles over time and may not be providing the R value that you think it is. Many areas will provide rebates to cover a portion of the costs when performing work to increase energy efficiency of your home. An audit is a great way to find out where there is room for improvement and how you can garner even more savings.
4. Move the air
Ceiling fans are a great addition. In the summer they work well at drawing cold air up when you need to cool certain rooms and not the whole house. They are ideal for bedrooms at night. Ceiling fans can also help in cold months as most ceiling fans nowadays come with a “reverse” option that lets you push hot air down into the room.
5. Run appliances during off-peak hours and turn off when not in use
Many areas have adopted peak and off peak electricity rates. Dishwashers, washers and dryers use a substantial amount of our energy and generally need to run for extended periods of time. Shift your schedule to wash dishes and clothes during the off-peak hours. Electricity charges are at their lowest usually after 7 and on weekends.
Make sure that you do full loads when you wash clothes and do it in cold water on the shorter cycle. Avoid running the dryer whenever possible – hang clothes to dry outside in warm months and inside to air dry during the winter instead. Wait for a full load to run the dishwasher and avoid the drying cycle which is very expensive to run. Air dry or dry by hand instead. Dryers can suck up to six per cent of a home’s total energy consumption. Hang your clothes to dry whenever possible.
TV’s, cable boxes, PVRs and game consoles draw energy when they are not in use. Plug countertop appliances and electronics into a power bar and set the power bar to switch off at night, go to bed or are going to be away. Even if you don’t have a switchable power bar, with all those electronics on a single power bar, it’s easy to switch them off before everyone goes to bed.
Unplug power chargers when you are not charging your phone, tablet or other electronic devices – power chargers draw power even when there is no device attached being charged.
6. Automate where you can
A simple adjustment of a few degrees to the temperature (higher in summer, lower in winter) for the hours that you’re away from the home or sleeping reduces energy use considerably. Programmable thermostats can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 10 per cent. Install dimmer switches and motion sensors that turn off when you leave the room.