Tips for Energy Savings
Heating and Cooling
- In a nut shell, the energy bill for a home is affected by:
- any air leakage (drafts can account for over a third of the heating costs in older homes).
- heat gained (mostly through windows).
- heat lost (mostly affected by insulation).
- the efficiency of the heating/cooling system.
- associated fuel costs.
- For larger retrofits, an energy audit will provide the most effective changes.
- Programmable thermostats are fairly cheap and can pay off quickly. The greatest demand for heating is often while we are sleeping, so a few degrees cooler at night makes a big difference.
- Windows and doors can use new caulking and weatherstripping, replaced with double or triple panes, or simply covered with shrink wrap for the colder months.
- More heat is lost through ceilings than walls and loose insulation can be added to an attic space.
- Options like solar heating and heat pumps [ground-source (geothermal) or air-source] do not have to generate their heat from combustion, but simply move the heat into your house. This means they have efficiency ratings well above 100%, something natural gas and oil can never do and without creating fumes!
- Heat from the ground or the sun is free!
- Special blinds can increase solar heat gain from windows in the winter (dark side facing outdoors) and reduce heat gain in the summer (reflective side facing outdoors).
- Since windows increase heat gain, be careful as this can increase the need for air-conditioning as well. Overhangs can help to provide shade when the sun is high in the summer, but allow sun in when it is lower in the sky during winter.
- Heat recovery ventilators can condition incoming air passively (or actively with a heat pump) to prevent drawing cold air in the winter or drawing in hot air in the summer.
- Energy Star appliances are widely available and light bulbs are a good place to start.
- Refrigerators are much more efficient today than 10 years ago and you can have your old one removed for free.
- Power bars can make it easier to unplug a number of cables to prevent vampire loads: the slow use of power by appliances that are plugged in but turned off.
- Low-flow showerheads are readily available and cut down on your hot water heating bill too (Mine went from 2.5 gallons per minute [GPM] to 1.6).
- Tap aerators can cut your use in half (often 2.2 GPM to 1.0 GPM), without disrupting their effectiveness.
- Insulation blankets can be added to your hot water heating tank to reduce hot water heating costs.
- Low-flow toilets are popular and be sure to check if your toilet tank is leaking.
- Rainwater can be captured simply in rainbarrels or even plumbed in to supply toilets and hose bibs.
- Power pipes, or waste water heat recovery, can keep some of the heat from your hot shower from going down the drain.
- Using cold water detergent means no hot water is used for washing, which lowers your hot water heating bill.
- Hangdrying can avoid the cost of running the dryer. If you develop moisture problems like mould, proper ventilation can help resolve this (turning on the bathroom fan should do).
- Front-end loading washing machines are more efficient and use much less water.
- Tires that are filled up can increase mileage.
- Routine maintenance can improve mileage and the lifespan of your car.
- Car sharing is a new and affordable option without having to pay for insurance, gas, depreciation, maintenance, parking or license plates! Some companies offer electric vehicles as well.
Have a suggestion? Please tell us!
p.s. Here's a video about bottled water that may change your views on tap water: