You may not have the cash for major renovations this spring, but these cheap fixes can help you to reduce your energy bill so you have more cash and less impact on the environment. The Precious Handyman suggests you start with a home energy audit by a professional or do one yourself. This will help you to identify areas in your home that need improvement. If don’t already have the tools you need, you might check out ToolTally.com
Rebates and Incentives
Your local government provides a range of coupons, incentives and rebates to home and condo owners who make improvements that result in energy savings. Here are just a few that can help you reduce your environmental impact.
Installing a ceiling fan, buying a smart power bar or replacing your lightbulbs? These inexpensive improvements make a significant dent in your hydro bill and they just got cheaper. Print out the coupons from SaveOnEnergy and get a list of participating retail outlets.
Save up to $650 when you capitalize on SaveOnEnergy’s Heating and Cooling promotion. Upgrade your furnace or air conditioner to an EnergyStar appliance to qualify for the $650 rebate and save up to $325 annually on your energy bill.
Turn it Down
If you can’t afford a new EnergyStar water heater, turn your water heater down. When you get in the shower, you probably don’t turn your hot water all the way up to the hottest setting, so you won’t even notice if you turn your hot water heater down a few degrees. You save 5% on your water heating bill for every 6°C you lower your water heater.
Insulating your water heater and any pipes that run outdoors or along building components that extend out to the exterior of your building envelope will also help mitigate heat loss.
Check your hot water taps for leaks. Fixing a leaky hot water tap can save $33 a year on your hydro bill.
Window treatments are fairly cost-effective and can improve insulation in the winter while blocking summer sun. If you don’t want to do all the windows, focus on panes to the south, east and west of your home as they get the most sunlight. Blinds or curtains help to provide additional insulation.
If you have a garden, plant deciduous vines or trees outside your south-facing windows. In the summer their leaves will block the hot summer sun and they will lose their leaves in the winter and allow the natural sunlight to heat your home.
Cut just one load of laundry a week and bulk up the other loads to save. Use a cold wash whenever possible—it’s cheaper and easier on your clothes. If you do eight loads of laundry a week and hang just 50% of those on the line, you’ll save $47 a year. Putting a dry towel in your dryer will help to reduce your drying time by a further 10%.
In the Kitchen
Using ceramic or glass cookware helps to retain heat, so lower the oven temperature by 20°C. Use your oven light to take a peek at your dish—opening the oven door allows at least 20% of the heat to escape. Cook in off-peak times to save significantly on your energy costs and cook more than one meal at a time.
Gazing lovingly at your food can cost $30-$60 a year, so decide what you want before you open the fridge door. Cover any liquids and foods prior to placing them in the refrigerator as moisture in your fridge makes your compressor work harder. Leave a 10cm gap between your fridge and the wall so that airflow allows it to cool.
Dishwashers use most of their energy to heat the water. You can reduce the temperature at which your dishwasher washes and reserve pre-washing or soaking for those really bad dish days.
Avoid leaving appliances on standby. These ‘vampire loads’ account for 10-15% of your energy consumption. Avoid using appliances for small jobs like opening a can or peeling an apple. When you are using appliances, always choose the smallest one for the job. For example, a hand-held blender uses less power than a food processor and a toaster is more efficient than the oven.