Don’t want to get blown away by high electricity bills this summer? Follow these tips for cutting your heating and air conditioning costs—and chill out for less.
Would it surprise you to learn that electricity consumed by air conditioners accounts for more than half of your hydro bill during the summer months? Worse yet, keeping cool using A/C puts stress on an already aging energy infrastructure and this, in turn, can lead to more brown outs and black outs. But a few simple tune-ups and some smart upgrades can help keep your cooling costs down and ease the stress on our hydro grids.
Install ceiling fans
Did you know you can set your thermostat two degrees higher by running ceiling fans? The fans help to circulate air which keeps you feeling cooler and reduces the stress on your a/c and the energy grid. Even better, by keeping your thermostat a bit higher you can actually save at least $40 for each room with a fan, for an overall 14% savings on your electricity bill, according to Consumers Report.
To optimize the use of a ceiling fan make sure the fan blades operate in a counter-clockwise direction in the summer to move the air downwards and maximize cool air circulation.
Clean the A/C coils
Have you ever cleaned the coils in your A/C unit? No. What if I told you this annual maintenance would shave more than $100 of your hydro bill each year. By keeping your central A/C vents and coils clean the appliance can perform better and this results in better efficiency and less power usage.
Program your thermostat
Use a programmable thermostat to increase the temperature in your home when you’re not home. Raising the temperatures by just a few degrees for the hours you’re away can help you save up to $100 each year.
Follow these three simple tips and you could shave $250 or more off your annual electricity bill. But the savings don’t stop there.
Follow 5 tips to reduce your electricity bill by $600
Using data from HOT2000 (recognized by Natural Resources Canada as the Canadian energy auditors go to tool), Enercare Home Services calculated that homeowners who invest in five simple upgrades can see a return of more than $600 per year on their combined energy (natural gas and electricity) bills:
1. Caulking and weather-stripping around doors, windows and exterior wall electrical outlets to keep the moist hot air out in the summer, and warm air in during the winter.
2. Install high-efficiency windows. Up to 30% of the heating and cooling costs in a home can be lost through poorly fitted windows and doors.
3. Checking that there is at least 16 inches of insulation in the attic – anything less and homeowners will need to budget to get it topped up. A properly insulated home is one of the fastest and most cost effective ways to cut down on heating and cooling costs.
4. Replacing an HVAC system that’s older than 15 to 17 years with a high-efficiency air conditioner and furnace.
5. Upgrading a traditional hot water heater to a tankless or condensing water heater can save up to 40% in energy consumption. Or you can wrap your hot water tank in a blanket for improved energy consumption and savings.
However, the cost for some of these upgrades may be prohibitive for some. For those on a budget, consider the following zero cost ways to reduce home energy costs:
–> Use electricity at off-peak times. Do laundry and run the dishwasher on weekdays from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. and all day on weekends and holidays when electricity prices are lower to save up to 8.1 cents per kilowatt hour.
–> Replace furnace filters every three months to save as much as $50 a year on energy. Clogged filters mean that furnace motors must work harder and use more energy.
–> Increase the temperature setting on the thermostat by a couple of degrees. Save 2% to 3% for every degree higher than 22 degrees Celsius.
–> Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving bulbs. Energy-efficient light bulbs, like CFLs and LEDs, use up to 75% less energy than traditional light bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer.
–> Unplug vampire electronics while away on vacation or when they’re not in use. Vampire electronics are the household appliances and devices, such as computers, televisions and chargers, which suck away at energy even when turned off. Even the average older home desktop computer uses about 311.0 kilowatt hours annually when in standby mode, costing approximately $24 a year.
–> Keep the curtains closed. Close south and west facing curtains, drapes or blinds during the day to block out the high summer sun and keep the home cooler.