Are you constantly trying to find new ways to save money around your home? If so, decreasing the amount you pay on your energy bills each month may be the answer. Here are six tips that will help you save on your monthly gas, water, and electric bill without having to compromise on comfort.
- Install a tankless water heater.
Traditional water heaters waste plenty of energy by storing water in a large tank and keeping it warm. However, tankless, or on demand, units do not store water, but quickly heat it when it is needed. As a result, they use minimal, if any, energy when they are not in use.
To determine a water heater’s energy efficiency (energy factor), you calculate how much hot water is produced per unit of fuel. A higher number means that it is a more efficient unit. Your traditional natural gas water heater has an energy factor ranging from 0.67 and 0.99, while most non condensing tankless units average between 0.82 and 0.89. Condensing tankless units have an energy factor between 0.90 and 0.99.
It is important to understand that tankless units are initially more expensive than traditional water heaters. However, the difference will be made up in the long run by the savings you will see. Also, most tankless units last up to 20 years, while your average traditional model only lasts between 10 and 13 years.
It is important to contact your local utility company to be certain a tankless unit can be installed in your home before purchasing or renting one.
- Monitor your water usage.
Regardless of whether or not you install a tankless water heater, one of the best ways to save money on your monthly bills is by cutting down on the amount of water you use. One of the simplest ways to do this involves installing aerators on your faucets and energy efficient shower heads. They will decrease the amount of water that comes through your tap without affecting your water pressure. Best of all, they are usually pretty inexpensive, easy to install, and can decrease your usage from 10 to 11 liters per minute to a mere 3 to 4 liters.
In addition, choosing to install a low or dual flush toilet or retrofitting your current one with a low flow kit has the potential to save thousands of liters of water from being flushed. Not only will this benefit the environment, but it will also result in huge savings.
Additional ways to decrease the amount of water you use in your home include:
Turning the water off when shaving or brushing your teeth.
Repairing any pipes or taps that are leaking.
If you have a garden or prefer to clean your lawn watered, using barrels to catch and store rain water during the spring and summer will allow you to water them without spending any money. This will also be beneficial if water bans are in place.
- Start using LED bulbs.
In the past several years, LED bulbs have been improved to closely resemble the light and color of an incandescent bulb, while also dropping in price. Consider this. A regular 60W incandescent bulb usually lasts about 1,000 hours. However, an equivalent 60W LED bulb lasts an amazing 25,000 hours while using as little as 9W of energy. (If the bulb is used for three hours a day, it will last 23 years!)
When using a 9W LED bulb for approximately three hours a day, you can expect to spend $1.08 a year (when you calculate with a peak hydro rate of $0.11 kWh). If you use a 60W incandescent bulb for the same amount of time every day, you will spend $7.23 a year. If you opt to use an incandescent bulb, the average cost for a period of 23 years (the average life of an LED bulb) will be $166, plus the cost of replacement bulbs. Now, take a minute and think of how many bulbs you use in your home. Switching to LED lights will save you a ton of money over time.
- Add additional insulation to your home.
If you want to be able to stay comfortably cool in the summer and warm in the winter without having to constantly run your air conditioner or furnace, your home must be adequately insulated. Insulation is crucial for keeping your indoor air inside, while keeping the weather outside out. The most important places to start are in your attic and unfinished basement. Then, move on to your exterior and interior walls, floors, and around your doors and windows.
When speaking to product specialist Dave Green, an insulation manufacturer stated, “Ensuring that you have an insulation that has a tight fit is key when insulating your home.”
Insulation’s rating, frequently referred to a R value, is determined by measuring how resistant the material is to the movement of heat. As the R value increases, the insulation increases in effectiveness. Depending on what type of insulation you add to your home, you may see even greater savings.
Green went on to say, “With regards to your attic, we would recommend an R60. For the basement, it would be around an R20.”
Additional ways of further insulating your home include:
l Caulking around the outside of doors and windows will prevent the cool/ warm inside air from getting out and the cool/ warm outside air from getting in depending on the season.
l Using special foam inserts to insulate receptacles and light switches on your exterior walls will help prevent inside air from escaping.
l Wrapping hot water pipes with pipe foam will decrease how much you spend heating water, as well as possibly prevent your pipes from freezing during the cold winter months.
- Clean or change the filter on your furnace and air conditioner regularly.
Making certain your filters are clean allows your furnace and air conditioner to run more efficiently. Once a year, the entire furnace should be cleaned. The best time to do this is right before winter. Furnace filters should be clean (if you use a reusable one) or changed every 3 months, while air conditioners benefit from monthly cleanings.
According to Dave Walton, Direct Energy’s director of home ideas, “Filters play a big role in how efficiently your furnace runs. By making sure you regularly clean or change them, you can save approximately $50 each year on your energy bill.”
Always be certain the area around your furnace is kept clear and the floor registers and air return vents are not blocked.
- Have a programmable thermostat installed.
Programmable thermostats help keep your home’s heating and cooling system on a schedule. This keeps your furnace from struggling to raise your home’s temperature during the winter and stop your air conditioner from running constantly through the summer. Smart thermostats, such as the ecobee3 or the Nest Learning Thermostat, are even more beneficial because they allow you to monitor and control your usage, while also offering other incentives to decrease your energy use.
According to Direct Energy, programming your thermostat between 21⁰C and 23⁰C will help save up to 4 per cent on your winter heating bill. This adjusts your temperature lower while you are away from home during the day and at night.
It is a good idea to check with your local utility company prior to purchasing a programmable thermostat to see if you are eligible for a discounted or free unit.