Greening Your Energy Consumption
Winter is coming: snow is here, there is a chill in the air, and the days are getting shorter! This means that we’ll be using more energy to heat our homes and turning on extra lights to illuminate our lives. Ensuring that we consume energy in an efficient manner has been identified as one of the greenest ways to reduce our GHG emissions and have a positive impact on the environment – not to mention your wallet! Reduce wasted energy in your home with these simple, low or no cost tricks.
Upgrade Lighting to LEDs
LED lights can use 25-80% less energy than incandescent, which can result in energy savings over the lifetime of the bulb! While LEDs tend to cost more initially than the average incandescent, they have a quick payback period meaning the money you save by using the LED will overrule your initial payment quickly. LEDs also last 2-3x longer than incandescent bulbs, meaning you will buy less of them over time and throw out fewer bulbs.
Note: While CFL bulbs are also energy efficient, they contain mercury which is hazardous to both human health and to the environment. CFL bulbs must be disposed of properly in specialized programs, and if you break one in your home, ensure you ventilate the area well before attempting a proper clean up!
Cut off Phantom Power
Phantom power is the name for the electricity drawn by electronic devices when plugged in, even when turned off or in sleep/standby mode. This power is used to access networks and to run applications like timers, clocks and remotes. To cutdown on phantom power, unplug your devices once fully charged or when not in use, particularly if they are not used very frequently.
By cutting down on phantom power, you may be able to cut your energy consumption by 10%.
Adjust Thermostat Setting
When you and your family members are home and awake, set your thermostat to 20-22C - an optimal temperature for comfort. At nighttime when people are asleep and during the day when your home is unoccupied, set the thermostat between 16-18C.
More than 50% of residential energy is consumed for space heating, but you could reduce your consumption by as much as 15% by optimizing your temperature settings.
At first, 21C might seem a bit chilly but it’s a small change that can have a big impact. While your body adapts, you can easily keep warm by putting on a sweater, cozying up under a blanket or drinking a hot beverage.
A programmable thermostat can help you control temperatures when you’re not home by allowing you to set up different temperatures for different times of the day. Most new thermostats will also allow you to have different settings during the week and on the weekend, and some will even allow you to adjust the temperature remotely, when you’re away from home.
Stop the Draft!
Check your exterior doors and windows to see if cold air is leaking in. When cold air leaks in, your heating system will need to work harder to warm your home. To stop the draft, you can attach weather stripping to door or window frames, seal fixed joints where the frames meet the wall, pick up insulated curtains or use a draft excluder for the base of the door. If you have some old material scraps lying about, you could repurpose those and make your own draft excluder!
Conserve Hot Water
Using less water in general will help save energy as a great deal is used by the municipal water pumping and treatment stations that supply us with potable water directly to our homes. To reduce energy from hot water consumption, you can wash your clothes in cold water, take shorter showers and insulate hot water pipes with low-cost pipe wrap.
Perhaps you’ve already employed all of the tricks above and are ready for next-level solutions. Consider conducting your very own home energy audit using Vancouver’s DIY energy audit guide to discover additional opportunities for improving efficiency and saving on your energy bills. Also be sure to check out energy efficiency tips and rebate programs from your energy suppliers, such as Fortis BC and BC Hydro.
What tips do you have for reducing energy consumption in your home?