Improving your home’s energy efficiency doesn’t have to involve expensive upgrades. With just a few tweaks, you can save both energy and money.
1. Unplug countertop appliances when not in use. The same goes for phone and tablet chargers, as they continue to draw power even when no device is attached. Consider plugging these items, as well as televisions, cable boxes and game consoles, into a power bar that can be switched off at night for further energy savings.
2. Run large appliances in the evening after 7 p.m. or on weekends. Your washer, dryer and dishwasher use a lot of energy and often run for long periods of time, so it’s best to use them during off-peak hours. Also, consider using the air-dry option on the dishwasher and washing clothes on a shorter cycle.
3. Vacuum the vent at the back of your refrigerator and clothes dryer at least twice a year to ensure air moves easily into the units. This is especially important if you have pets. When the vent gets clogged with dust and dander, the motors work harder, requiring more energy.
4. Keep your HVAC filters clean. Dirty filters can restrict airflow and cause your HVAC system to work with greater effort than it should, which can lead to increased energy use and higher energy bills.
5. Have your furnace checked annually. This will involve cleaning the parts you can’t see or reach, making sure it is running efficiently and that there are no issues that could be causing it to use more energy than necessary. A well-maintained furnace will help keep your home warm during the colder months of the year and cool in summer.
6. Incorporate technology to control your heating and cooling system via a smartphone device. Smart home automation can help homeowners turn up or down the heating room by room, rather than setting one temperature for the entire home. This technology can also be applied to lights, enabling you to switch them off in parts of the home that aren’t being used. Smart bulbs use at least 75 per cent less energy and last around 25 times longer than regular light bulbs. This alone can save homeowners up to 40 per cent on energy bills.
Tip: If your boiler is coming up to 15 years old, it may be time to start thinking about replacing it. New HVAC systems are designed and developed to be far more energy-efficient than older models, which means they use less energy and don’t cost as much to operate. In fact, newer HVAC systems can be up to 60 per cent more efficient than older models, which is why replacement can really pay off. When doing so, always look for the Energy Star sticker, which means the system has a season energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating of 14.5 or higher. While the initial cost for more efficient systems is typically higher, the operating costs are significantly lower for higher SEER units, effectively decreasing the total cost over the course of the boiler’s life.