How to winterize your home

Ready or not, winter is coming

Getting charged up with renewable energy is fun, but it’s usually easier and cheaper to reduce your energy demand by getting more efficient. Whether you rent or own, there are inexpensive and easy things you can do around the home to cut your energy demand and save a few bucks. Here are a few things to get you started.

Six ways to make your home more energy efficient:

  1. Draft-proof your home. Drafts can waste five to 30 per cent of a home’s energy. Try testing doors, windows and chimneys 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. You can also add small insulating covers underneath the wall plates of the electric outlets on outside walls, or adjacent to cold basements and crawl spaces.
  2. Insulate your windows. Hang heavy curtains to keep the cold out and the cozy in. An even cheaper solution is to apply 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 through windows.
  3. Reverse your ceiling fans. Many ceiling fans have a reverse mode. When they turn clockwise, they push down the warm air that pools near the ceiling and circulates it through the room. Magic!
  4. Change your furnace filters. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase the energy demand of your furnace by making it work harder. Make sure to replace your furnace filters at least every three months during the heating season or ask your landlord to. Better indoor air quality is a nice side benefit of this energy-saving tip. Also, consider switching to a washable filter, which will reduce waste and is more effective.
  5. Heat the people not the space. Keeping people warm is much more efficient than heating a whole space. Put on a sweater and slippers. Use an electric heat blanket or hot water bottle. Drink hot drinks. Get cozy.
  6. Mind your thermostat. For every degree you turn down the thermostat, you can save between 1.5 and five per cent of your heating bill. Keep your space cooler (see #5) and turn down the thermostat when you’re not home or are sleeping. A programmable thermostat will help you get efficient and consistent.

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 opportunities.

Opportunities in your province

  • Residential rebate programs: Energy Efficiency Alberta’s programs provide rebates for energy efficient renovations, appliances and thermostats.

  • EfficiencyBC: This is B.C.’s new online hub for homeowners and businesses to access information, incentives and support to help reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in new and existing homes and buildings. EfficiencyBC incentives are administered by BC Hydro, FortisBC and BC Housing.

  • Manitoba Hydro savings and rebates: If you’re thinking of making changes to your home to make it more energy efficient, you have a range of information and rebates available, including resources for lower income households and Indigenous communities. You can save on fridges, heat recovery ventilator, 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 appliances, heating appliances, LED lightbulbs, drain-water heat recovery systems and residential insulation.

  • Efficiency Nova Scotia: Get rebates on energy savings items such as insulation, efficient appliances and programmable thermostats.

  • Home Renovation Program: Receive financial assistance to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

  • Home Winterproofing Program: If you qualify, you can receive new insulation and draft-proofing installed by experienced professionals for free!

  • efficiencyPEI: Get rebates on installation of ENERGY STAR® certified heating equipment, including heat pumps, water-saving devices, biomass heating devices and other energy-saving products.

  • Hydro Quebec promotional offers: Take advantage of Hydro Quebec’s promotional offers to save energy and reduce your electricity bill.

  • The ENERGY STAR® Loan Program: This program offers residential customers financing for purchase and installation of eligible ENERGY STAR–certified equipment to help encourage customers to make the most energy efficient choices possible until May 31, 2019.

  • 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.

We love to hear about your experiences. Let us know how you fared winterizing your home!

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