Being a homeowner is expensive, right? Between internet, utilities, maintenance and repairs, the bills just pile up. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for savings. There are small, yet effective changes you can make that will not only conserve water and energy, but will be reflected on your monthly bills. Housing expert Christina Haddad shares her expertise.
Did you know that in Canada, space heating makes up a good proportion of your overall energy bill? And if your faucet drips at a rate of one drop per second, you could be wasting up to 200 L – or 44 gallons – of water per week. Do you even realize how much water that is?
Whether you pay utility bills directly or through condo fees, reducing energy and water use can help control, if not lower, your costs and increase home comfort. Before you start, discuss the energy and water saving measures you are thinking of undertaking with your property manager to find out what you can do and what the property management might be responsible for or willing to do on your behalf. An environmental expert can aid in the discussion as well.
Close the gaps
Keep the drafts out by making your place more airtight. Check the weatherstripping around your doors and windows for wear or damage. If necessary, it can be replaced with new weatherstripping. Caulk or spray foam can be used to seal other gaps. If interior renovations are being done that involve removing baseboard trim, take the time to ensure that the joint where the floors meet exterior walls are well sealed. Foam gaskets can be installed under the cover plates on electrical outlets. Remove window air conditioners and seal the opening with the original window or an insulated panel. Plugging the leaks not only reduces drafts, it can also keep out exterior noise, dust and odours.
Take a look at this info-graphic on where to locate the most common places where air leakage occurs:
Did you know that energy-efficient windows are designed to reduce drafts in your home? They’ll keep your home warmer during the winter season. In the hot summer months, your AC won’t be working overtime because the cold air won’t have anywhere to escape through.
Here’s how your cost savings stack up:
Light up with less
Use light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs in fixtures throughout your unit to save energy and money. How?
- LED bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs.
- They last longer.
- They come in a variety of lighting levels and colours.
- LED bulbs don’t add as much heat to your unit during hot summer months.
Save energy as well by turning off lights, appliances and electrical equipment when you’re not using them. It might take time to get used to unplugging all those appliances, but eventually it will turn into your daily routine.
Heat and cool less
Adjust your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer. Most people can tolerate a difference of a couple of degrees, and the change can help lower your heating and cooling bills – particularly when you are sleeping or away from home. You can also regulate temperatures by following the sun and the season. For instance, open curtains and blinds during the day in the winter to let the sun in, but keep them closed in the summer to keep your place cooler.
Bonus tip: These window shades from Cellular Window Shades are designed to, once again, prevent air from escaping, which helps keep the air you’re spending money on indoors. By spending money on valuable products that will reduce help regulate a comfortable temperature in your home, you’ll save money on energy costs.
Use less water
Toilets are the biggest water user in a dwelling, especially toilets that are more than a decade old. Consider installing a low-flush model (4.5 L) to replace your older model. The performance of 4.5 L and dual flush toilets has greatly improved and the flush can be superior to older models. As well, replace faucets and shower heads with low-flow ones.
Take a look at this cool graphic. It explains how an energy-efficient toilet works!
Use appliances efficiently
Keep the pot lids on when cooking, get rid of the old refrigerator, and use cold water when washing clothes. These are just some ways to use appliances more efficiently. You can also save energy by allowing the dishes to air dry in the dishwasher, and if permitted it, by hanging wet clothes outside. When replacing or purchasing new appliances or electronic equipment, consider energy consumption along with the purchase price and other features you are looking for. A front-loading clothes washing machine will use up to 40 per cent less water and 60 per cent less energy than older top-loading machines, for instance.
Here’s a cost breakdown of how your appliances are costing you more money and why you should consider energy-efficient options.
Keep it clean
Well-maintained heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems not only use less energy, they keep you more comfortable and need less service and fewer repairs. Change or clean filters every one to three months and vacuum the supply and return air grills to remove dust build up. Clean the housing and grill covering of bathroom fans and range hoods and the range hood filters as well. Besides, proper maintenance ensures your appliances and products will last longer, which results in less money being spent on repairs and constant replacement.
Get neighbours involved
Have fun with your neighbours and help the environment by bringing people together to share your enthusiasm for saving energy and money. An environment committee can be a powerful way to help identify energy and water savings in your building and to start other environmental initiatives such as recycling, composting and waste management. Why not start one today?
Are you ready to start saving money on your energy bills? Take a look at our directory of environmental experts. Arrange a home inspection with them and they’ll advise you on what measures you should be taking to ensure your home is environmentally healthy and energy-efficient, which will result in long-term cost savings on your utility bills!
About the Author: Christina Haddad is the vice president of Ontario’s Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation division.