Energy Conservation and Efficiency Tips

Energy conservation is the smart way for consumers to save on home energy costs and help the environment. Your investment in new or improved higher-efficiency heating equipment, appliances and electronics, caulking, insulation and water-conserving fixtures will pay for itself quickly as your home energy bills get smaller every month. It's easy to do and the savings start immediately.

For example, studies show with average use a new programmable thermostat ($150) has a payback period of just one year, and upgraded ceiling insulation can pay for itself in as little as 3 years.  Watch the energy savings really climb if you also practice the simple everyday Household TIPS provided below for reducing energy and water consumption in your home. Plus many energy-efficiency upgrades are eligible for money-back rebates from various levels of government - check with your Home Audit energy advisor and your local municipal administration office for more information.


Where to Begin

Start practicing ways to reduce energy and water consumption in your home right now, then the next important step is to arrange a Home Energy Audit. Qualified professionals will measure how your home uses energy and will identify improvements you can make to the heating and cooling system, windows and doors, wall and ceiling insulation, plus heat-retention methods that could result in hundreds of dollars in energy savings each year. The government of Ontario will even pay half of your pre-retrofit audit, up to $150.

Visit Ontario Home Energy Savings Program for details about available rebates from the Government of Ontario - like up to $790 for a new furnace - and a list of certified home audit/evaluation companies. Act soon!  Before the program ends on March 31, 2011.  You must complete the post-retrofit (2nd) audit by this date to qualify for the rebates.

Visit Heating & Cooling Incentive to learn about the $250 rebate from the Ontario Power Authority for replacing your old heating unit with a high-efficiency furnace complete with an Electronically Commutated Motor (ECM).  An ECM allows you to save money while your furnace provides continuous circulation of air throughout your home. Continuous circulation means greater comfort thanks to even distribution of fresh air and temperatures.  Annual savings on your home electricity bill with an ECM can be upwards of $200 depending on electricity rates in your area. The environment benefits as well through reduced GHG emissions associated with electrical power generation.

Many kinds of improvements may qualify for provincial and local rebates; here are a few:

 

New Energy Star® rated oil furnace
Upgraded Ceiling Insulation
Upgraded Wall and Basement Insulation
New Energy Star® rated window and doors
Qualified Water-conserving Toilets


Household TIPS … immediately Save Energy 3 Easy Ways

1. REDUCE ENERGY USE

Get annual heating system tune-ups. When your burner is running at peak efficiency your fuel consumption is minimized. That not only saves up to 10% on annual fuel bills, it also increases the lifespan of your furnace.

Spring Tune Ups Give You More. Did you know that you have an advantage if you get your furnace tuned up in the spring rather than in the fall?  When a furnace sits idle all summer long combustion residue that settles in the heat exchanger absorbs humidity from the basement and becomes nearly impossible to remove in its entirety.  Have your furnace tuned up in the spring, before it goes on hiatus for the summer months.  Any residue will still be dry, not affected by humidity and easily and effectively vacuumed from the heat exchanger, helping you achieve maximum efficiency for your furnace.

Change or clean your furnace filter regularly. This improves the flow of air and prevents your system from working harder than it needs to, which wastes energy.

Install a programmable thermostat. Then adjust temperature settings to energy-saving levels when you're sleeping or away from home. You'll lower your heating and cooling costs by 15% per year.

Enjoy comfort and savings with ceiling fans. They use far less energy than air conditioners and still allow you to feel cool while keeping your thermostat set a little higher. For each degree you are able to raise the thermostat, you will save 3–5% on air conditioning costs.

Turn off or replace inefficient appliances and light bulbs. Old appliances, incandescent light bulbs, and electronics not only draw a lot of energy, but also give off excess heat. Install compact fluorescent bulbs throughout your house -- they last longer and use 75% less energy.

Buy Energy Star® appliances. Choose Energy Star rated equipment for every application in your home – heating and cooling systems, kitchen and laundry appliances, TV's, computers and all other electronics. You'll easily measure the home energy savings in hundreds of dollars over time.

Move furniture away from vents. Let the warm or cool air circulate freely so your system works more easily and minimizes fuel and energy consumption. 

Seal your duct system with tape. Leaky ducts can waste enormous amounts of heat and air conditioning. Anywhere you can reach it, seal the ducting and save. Specialized shiny silver “compression tape” is longer lasting that the dull grey tape. Ask for it at your building supplies store.

Have your duct system vacuumed regularly. Professional duct cleaning every few years, or after a renovation, removes built-up dust and debris that inhibits air flow and makes your system work unnecessarily hard. Air quality also is much improved.

Be Kitchen Energy Smart. And Laundry Energy Smart too! Don't preheat the oven unnecessarily and use the microwave or toaster oven for cooking small items. Don't leave the fridge door open or the oven door open -- every time you do, up to 25% of the air inside can escape. You paid to heat or cool that air!  Run only full loads in your dish washer and laundry machines, and avoid the warmest periods of the day so your a/c system doesn't have to work harder. Also consider air-drying laundry.  These simple measures can result in a 30% energy savings in these high energy-consumption rooms.

The dry towel energy saver. Put a dry towel in the dryer with each load of wet clothes. The towel will absorb dampness and reduce drying time up to 33%.

2. KEEP THE WARM & COOL AIR INSIDE YOUR HOME

Get Caulking.  Each Spring and Fall, inspect the interior and exterior seals around windows, doors, skylights, and all plumbing and wiring penetrations through insulated walls and ceilings. Or hire a reputable company to do it for you. If left unsealed, the collective effect can be like leaving a window open year round.

Buy Energy Star® windows, doors and skylights. New windows and doors are hugely effective in reducing warm and cool air loss. Plus they improve home comfort and add to your property's value. Windows manufactured with a low-emissivity coating (low-E) control heat transfer through the glass without loss of visibility, and reduce energy loss by as much as 30–50%.

Control the heat gain from outside your home. During summer, use window shades to minimize heat gain during the day and open your windows at night to enhance airflow. In winter, let the sun's warmth enter your home.

Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans wisely. In just one hour, these fans can push out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. Turn bath and stove-top fans off as soon as they have done the job.

3. REDUCE WATER CONSUMPTION

Reduce water use and the energy needed to heat it. Wait until the dish washer and clothes washer are full and use more cold water for washing and rinsing. Also consider air drying the dishes.

Install water-conserving fixtures. Water-restricting showerheads, faucets and toilets are effective choices for conserving water.

Don't delay, fix those leaky faucets. Especially hot water faucets. One drop per second adds up to 165 gallons per month — more than a person uses in two weeks.


Dozens of other easy-to-apply home energy conservation tips are available from the following websites. Check them out soon and learn what the experts know: improving the operating efficiency of your furnace plus energy-conservation methods throughout your home combine to give you high rates of return on investment and great energy savings.

The Office of Energy Efficiency (Government of Canada)
www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca

Every Kilowatt Counts (Ontario Power Authority)
www.everykilowattcounts.com

Conservation Council of Ontario
www.greenontario.org  

Ontario Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure
www.energy.gov.on.ca                  

Free Online Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)
www.aceee.org/Consumer