Natural Resources Canada
Here are some simple tips to help reduce your energy costs and the impact of your winter activities on the environment
Adjust your thermostat
Lowering your thermostat reduces your energy bills without affecting your comfort. You can save two percent on your heating bill for every 1°C (2°F) your thermostat is lowered. Make sure to turn the heat down when you are asleep or away. It makes good sense to get a programmable thermostat for whatever heat distribution system you have: gas, electric, forced air or radiant. Programmable thermostats allow you to set temperatures lower at pre-set times.
Decorate with LED holiday lights
The initial low price of incandescent bulbs may be enticing, but LED lights offer significant savings. The amount of electricity consumed by one 7-watt incandescent bulb could power 140 LED bulbs. These lights pay for themselves in energy savings in two holiday seasons or less.
Follow best practices in the kitchen
Use minimal heat and energy by preheating your oven only when baking. In other instances, preheating your oven is not needed and wastes energy. You can also turn off the oven a few minutes early as the remaining heat will finish the job. Similarly, once water is boiling, choose the lowest setting required to maintain the boil to save on energy.
Keep the oven door seals clean and tight to prevent heat from escaping, and make sure the oven door is shut whenever possible. Every time it’s opened during use, as much as 20 percent of the heat escapes.
Use the right size and type of cookware. Opt for smooth, flat-bottomed cookware to ensure full contact with the cooking element and decrease cooking time.
Today’s cooktops, ovens and ranges are as energy-efficient as current technology allows. There are, however, a few simple techniques that help lower your energy consumption while cooking. Reading the owner’s manual will provide you with tips pertaining to your specific model.
Get the most out of your clothes washer
Today’s clothes washers are at least 68 percent more energy-efficient than those produced in 1990. Both top- and front-loading models are better designed to use less water, energy and detergent. Opt for an ENERGY STAR® certified machine to drastically increase energy efficiency and savings.
Wash with cold water whenever possible. And when cold water won’t do, wash in warm, then rinse in cold. This warm-wash, cold-rinse setting can be found on most appliances and uses approximately half the energy required with washing in hot water.
Instead of washing extra-dirty clothes twice, choose the pre-soak option. It is more energy-efficient and will help get tough stains out. Also look for the high-speed or extended-spin option. The more water removed from your laundry, the less time and energy it will take to dry.
Use your clothes dryer efficiently
Clothes dryers joined the list of ENERGY STAR® certified products in January 2015. Today’s clothes dryers use at least 17 percent less energy than those produced in 1990. Take advantage of improved designs that feature automatic controls to eliminate over-drying through the use of moisture sensors.
Make sure to clean the lint trap before every load. It’s a simple step that will improve airflow and maximize efficiency. Take it one step further and scrub the lint trap with a toothbrush once a month. Dryer sheets and lint leave a film behind that can build up, reduce airflow and overwork the motor.
Before loading the dryer, sort items by thickness. Group thin, fast drying items into one load, then heavy items like towels into another, and adjust drying time accordingly. Make the most of a dryer that’s already warm, and run the loads back to back.
Look for the cool-down or perma-press setting. Finishing the cycle with cool air not only saves energy, it also reduces fabric wear and shrinkage.
Choose energy-efficient electronics
Today’s televisions project brighter colours, sharper images and sound and use less energy than devices made in the past. On average, ENERGY STAR® certified televisions are 25 percent more energy-efficient than standard models.
Consider changing your television’s brightness setting to the “home” mode. It still produces a clear and bright image but uses 25 percent less energy than the default “retail display” mode.
Reduce standby power consumption
Did you know that many electronic devices, such as computers, gaming units and even microwave ovens, use power even when they are not turned on? Although the standby mode consumes less electricity for most devices, it still adds up to at least 5 percent of a household’s electricity bill.
Make sure to fully turn off all electronics when they are not in use. A convenient way to do this is by plugging all your home entertainment and office equipment into an easily accessible power cord and switching it off when these devices are not in use.
Since chargers continue to draw power even when the device being charged is removed, remember to unplug them when they aren’t being used. If you regularly use a number of chargers (e.g. for power tools or mobile devices), consider creating a “charging station” where all of the chargers are plugged into a single power bar. This will allow you to easily monitor their use and turn them all off at once.
Limit vehicle idling time
Idling for a long period of time weighs heavy on the environment and your wallet. An average vehicle wastes over 300 ml — more than a cup — of fuel for every 10 minutes it idles.
Contrary to popular belief, idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle in the winter. Except in extremely cold conditions, the average car engine only requires a couple of minutes of idling to warm up in the winter.
Other parts of your vehicles such as the wheel bearings, steering, suspension, transmission and tires need to be warmed up as well, and this can only be done by driving. Just make sure that windows are free from snow and properly defrosted before driving away!
Look for these labels
The EnerGuide label compares a product’s energy performance with others in its class. Read up on the energy usage and efficiency ratings of your household appliances. Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations make these labels mandatory for clothes dryers, dishwashers, freezers and other products.
The ENERGY STAR® symbol indicates that a product meets or exceeds high efficiency standards. Currently, more than 70 product types are eligible for ENERGY STAR certification in Canada, and a certified model typically uses 20 to 30 percent less energy than other regular models.