People from coast to coast to coast in Canada feel cold weather effects on their utility bills each year. During the winter, the average Alberta home uses 40 per cent more natural gas and eight per cent more electricity for every 10 degree Celsius drop below zero, according to ENMAX.
Before you crank up the heat and your heating bill, try these inexpensive, easy ways to cut your energy demand and save a few bucks:
Five ways to make your indoor space more energy efficient through winter
- Draft proof.
Drafts waste five to 30 per cent of energy. Those from basements and roofs cool the most. Seal doors, windows and chimneys in those areas first. Try testing with incense. Where the smoke wavers, a draft is blowing in.
To seal leaks, make or buy a “door snake” and caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows. Look for non-toxic, eco-friendly caulks. You can also add small insulating covers underneath electric outlet wall plates on outside walls or beside cold basements and crawl spaces.
- Insulate windows.
Hang heavy curtains to keep the cold out and the cozy in. A cheaper solution: insulation film, available at most hardware stores. This plastic shrink film is easy to apply and keeps in much of the heat that would otherwise escape.
- Reverse ceiling fans.
Many ceiling fans have a reverse mode. When they turn clockwise, they push down warm air that pools near the ceiling and circulates it through the room.
- Change furnace filters.
Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase your furnace’s energy demand by making it work harder. Replace filters at least every three months during the heating season.
Better indoor air quality is a nice side benefit of this energy-saving tip. Consider switching to a washable filter, which reduces waste and is more effective.
- Mind your thermostat.
Every degree you turn it down can save between 1.5 and five per cent of your heating bill. A programmable thermostat will help you get efficient and consistent.
Turn down the thermostat when you’re sleeping or out. It’s is the most efficient way to reduce your heating bill — and your eco-footprint.
Other ways to warm
Here are seven more low-cost warming ideas from Ecohabitation:
- Layer up. Set your thermostat at 20 C and put on a sweater, socks and slippers. (Heat the person, not the space.)
- At night, cover up well and lower your thermostat to 17 C. Sleep quality improves when the temperature is cooler. (Some people turn off the heat and open their window a crack.)
- Warm your kitchen (and taste buds). Heat released from your oven or stovetop while cooking can also keep you toasty. Eating and drinking hot foods and beverages helps too.
- Remove ice hanging from window frames. Even if it doesn’t look like much, the ice between your window panes means cold coming in. Spend a few minutes removing it.
- Keep the snow. Don’t remove snow around doors and windows, especially near basements. It’s insulating!
- Use your old incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs aren’t energy efficient, but they throw heat.
- Invite friends over (in compliance with provincial health measures). Each person releases an average of 100 watts of power. A gathering of eight will emit the equivalent of a one-metre electric baseboard! Keep the heat in by saying your hellos and goodbyes with the door closed.
Want to do more?
A good place to start is getting an energy audit. You can find energy advisers who work in your community by entering your postal code here.
Depending on where you live, there are many resources, rebates and incentives to help you winterize your home and get energy efficient. Here are just a few location-based options.
Opportunities in your province
Clean Energy Improvement Program: The Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP) is a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)-style program that helps people make energy efficient upgrades to their properties without having to put money down.
EfficiencyBC: Homeowners and businesses can access information, incentives and support to help reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in new and existing homes and buildings. Incentives are administered by BC Hydro, FortisBC and BC Housing.
Manitoba Hydro savings and rebates: Choose from a range of information and offers, including resources for lower income households and Indigenous communities. Save on fridges, heat recovery ventilators, insulation, etc.
NB Power Total Home Energy Savings Program: Get money back on efficiency upgrades on everything from insulation and air-sealing to high efficiency central heating systems to windows, doors and more.
TakeCHARGE: Get money back and enjoy lower electricity costs with tips and rebates on insulation, thermostats and lightbulbs, and get financing for energy-efficient renovations.
Energy Efficiency Incentive Program: Get rebates when you purchase energy-efficient and heating appliances, LED lightbulbs, drain water heat recovery systems and residential insulation.
Efficiency Nova Scotia: Get rebates on energy saving items, including insulation, appliances and programmable thermostats.
EfficiencyPEI: Get rebates on installation of ENERGY STAR equipment, including heat pumps, water-saving and biomass heating devices and more.
Hydro Quebec: Promotional offers to save energy and reduce your electricity bill.
SaskEnergy Ways to Save: Includes residential financing for purchase and installation of eligible ENERGY STAR–certified equipment.
Good Energy Quick Start Home Energy Kits: Whether you’re a renter or homeowner, this free home energy kit will help you reduce energy use and improve comfort in your home. The Good Energy Program also offers rebates on energy-efficient appliances, windows and insulation.