When it comes to saving money few people think about the Hydro bill as a place to hunt, yet there are several simple steps we can all do to save 30% or more each year (yes, 30%!) while also going (a little more) green.
It starts with lights, heaters and ceiling fans. When you leave a room, do you leave 4 lights on? When you go out for an evening how many lights or fans are left on in the house? If you replace your regular bulbs with fluorescent bulbs – and turn switches off more often – you will save on your Hydro bill.
Consider lowering the temperature of your hot water heater to 50-55C. No need to heat it to scalding temperature and pay for that pleasure. When you need to boil water just use a tea kettle with an auto-shut off function.
The oven is one of the biggest hydro consumers in the home. Using a microwave, toaster oven or slow cooker are all great options for certain meal choices.
Front-load washers use less water, and cold water is better on your energy bill than hot. A typical dryer uses up to 4,500 watts per hour – that’s comparable to 45 100-watt bulbs! This means using a clothesline or drying rack will save a lot. And if you pull your clothes right out of the washer you can choose to skip ironing as well, and double your power savings.
Computers and power bars are best turned off if they won’t be used for at least 8 hours. If you make it a ritual to power down before you go to bed, you’ll enjoy some savings since even in sleep mode, computers are using up hydro. And remember, laptops use about 80% less energy than desktops with speakers.
When buying an appliance or big electronics (like an HDTV), check the Energy Star rating. It only takes a second to check this and it could result in hundreds of dollars saved over the lifetime of the unit. Turning off surround sound can also save a lot when watching regular TV is good enough.
Timers are fantastic for lights sometimes left on through the night, especially at Christmas time, or motion-sensor lights that are only necessary when you or a visitor need them. And switching to LED holiday lights will reduce energy use by up to 90% while also being more durable.
Chargers are necessary for phones, batteries, laptops and other devices, but don’t forget to unplug them. It can be hard on the equipment and this category can represent about 5% of your total bill.
If you are heating your house with electricity, consider the rooms you want to be warmer in the winter vs. others that maybe aren’t occupied through the day. Consider the temperature and make dressing warmer a priority if you want to save money by turning the thermostat down a degree or two. Timers again can be your friend if you can handle a couple degrees lower at night.
Similar comments hold true in the summer with air conditioners. If someone is in the house through the day, a nice morning breeze can help freshen a house and delay the A/C ‘on’ switch – sometimes for weeks – depending on the season, daily high and humidity.
The home ‘electrical plug walk-through’ can be a worthwhile exercise once a year, just to make sure there are no obvious offenders. Going green is a fun and educational experience and doesn’t require any pain or suffering. Remember, every little bit matters when it comes to the environment.