Newswise — It may be the season of giving, but you’re allowed to be a Scrooge when it comes to using energy.
Take these top seven energy-saving tips from the Centre for Urban Energy so your money can be spent on your loved ones and not on that utility bill.
1. Understand Time of Use Billing
In Ontario, our electricity bill is determined by peak-hour usage. During the winter, off-peak hours are from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., and mid-peak hours are 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. It’s recommended to use appliances during off peak and mid peak hours.
Visit Hydro One or Toronto Hydro or to better understand time of use and peak hour billing.
2. Program your thermostat and appliances
Now that you know when your off-peak and mid-peak hours are, program your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer to operate at those times. Find the delay wash function and use the shortest cycle on your appliances.
Most importantly, program your thermostat to adjust the heat when you are and are not home. In fact, just by simply installing a programmable thermostat, you can save two per cent on your heating bill for every 1 degree you turn it down.
3. Become water wise
With everyone home for the holidays, the amount of water used increases significantly. Remind each family member to limit their shower time and cut down on the use of hot water.
When doing laundry, switch to a cold cycle. 85 to 90 per cent of the energy used to wash your clothes is used to heat the water. By turning the dial to cold on your washing machine, you help the environment, save energy and save money.
Prepare that delicious holiday dinner for friends and family by defrosting food in the fridge instead of using running water to thaw it. Another great water-saving tip is to use a pan of water to wash your fruits and vegetables and then reuse the same water to water houseplants.
4. Ask Santa for energy-efficient appliances and products
An average home can save up to $500 in natural gas and electrical costs annually when upgrading from a standard 60 per cent efficiency natural gas furnace to a 95 per cent efficiency furnace with a high efficiency variable speed motor. With that much in savings, Santa can’t refuse.
When shopping for a new clothes washer, compare resource savings among Energy Star models. Consider appliances that offer cycle and load size adjustments. Some of these can save up to 70 litres per load. A front loading washing machine not only saves water, it saves energy as well. It uses about 40 per cent less water and about 50 per cent less energy.
Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink or for your shower so you don't have to run the water while it heats up. Add a water-efficient showerhead to your list. They are inexpensive, easy to install and can save you up to 2,800 litres per month.
5. Light up the town with LED lights
Make the switch to LED lights and decorations this year. LED Christmas lights use 90 per cent less electricity than the incandescent kind, and can be purchased for around $10 a strand. Some retailers offer discounts on new LED lights when you trade in your old ones.
6. Travel with care
Before getting on that plane to visit your in-laws, lower your thermostat by 4 to 5 degrees to ensure you don’t come home to an expensive energy bill.
Also, use a programmable timer to turn your Christmas lights on and off.
Whether you’re staying at a hotel or with family, make sure to reuse your towels to save water. Your host will appreciate doing less laundry, too.
7. Tackle your winter maintenance list
Keep your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted with annual maintenance. If your furnace is working at peak efficiency, it will use less energy and cost less to operate.
Check the filter first. Cleaning the filter every couple months will prevent buildup of dirt that can block airflow, forcing the furnace to run longer to heat your home.
Weather-stripping provides a barrier between the fixed and movable sections of doors and windows. Apply weather-stripping to operable windows, exterior doors, garage doors, and doors that lead to the attic. Also apply a sealant or caulk around windows, door frames, sills and joints.
On a windy day feel for leaks or use a couple of incense sticks to help identify leaks around windows, electrical outlets, vents and exterior doors.
About the Centre for Urban Energy
The Centre for Urban Energy (CUE) is an academic-industry partnership that is exploring and developing solutions to urban energy issues, such as the advancement of clean energy technologies, energy policy and regulatory issues, energy storage, electric vehicles, smart homes and smart grids. CUE was founded by Ryerson University with sponsorships from Hydro One, Toronto Hydro and the Ontario Power Authority. For more information, visit www.cue.ryerson.ca.
About Ryerson University
Ryerson University is Canada's leader in innovative, career-oriented education and a university clearly on the move. With a mission to serve societal need, and a long-standing commitment to engaging its community, Ryerson offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distinctly urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 30,000 students, including 2,300 master's and PhD students, nearly 2,700 faculty and staff, and more than 140,000 alumni worldwide. Research at Ryerson is on a trajectory of success and growth: externally funded research has doubled in the past four years. The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada's leading provider of university-based adult education. For more information, visit www.ryerson.ca.