As a homeowner, your energy bill is one of your biggest monthly expenses. It’s also an expense you can’t exactly cut out.
While you can’t get rid of the cost of electricity, heating, and cooling, you can dramatically reduce your energy bill every month. Some methods have a higher upfront cost than others, but all can help you shave money off your monthly bill that will add up quickly.
Choose ENERGY STAR Appliances
ENERGY STAR appliances help you save money with lower energy use. Any type of appliance can be ENERGY STAR certified – just look for that recognizable symbol! – which means it meets strict efficiency standards. A refrigerator, for example, must be a minimum of 15% more efficient than minimum standards to receive the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR-rated appliances have a positive effect on your life once you move into your home as well as on the environment as a whole. You can learn more about ENERGY STAR from Natural Resources Canada.
Install a Programmable or Smart Thermostat
Programmable and smart thermostats both work like regular thermostats to control your heating and cooling system. Programmable thermostats allow you to program schedules to automatically adjust your HVAC system up or down based on when you’re home and whether you’re asleep.
The Nest thermostat saves U.S. customers an average of 11% on heating and 15% on cooling costs and having this installed in your new home is an option when you work with us! Another huge benefit over programmable models is you don’t need to remember to set up a schedule or change it based on the season; the thermostat does most of the work for you.
Reduce Water Heater Waste
When it comes to your appliances, remember that your water heater uses more energy than anything else. This is because your water heater is always working and keeps the water in the tank at a constant temperature. The easiest way to reduce your water heating bill is simply lowering your water heater temperature. An easy way to gauge this is if you can’t hold your hand under the water at its hottest, it’s being heated to an unnecessary temperature. Lowering the maximum temperature can also provide peace of mind to those who have young children.
Kill Phantom Power
Did you know that up to 40% of annual electronic energy consumption occurs when devices are turned off? This is an effect referred to as “phantom power,” where plugged-in devices are actually drawing power all the time. Especially in today’s age with so many devices per household, this can have a huge impact on your monthly bills.
To combat this phantom power-sucking, the best practice is to turn off and unplug your devices when they’re not in use. Another option is to use power strips because these can easily be switched off to disconnect all devices. There’s even such a thing as smart power bars which allow you to identify a “master device” (such as your TV) and all other connected devices are peripherals (such as your DVD player, speakers, etc.). What’s smart about it is that when the master device is switched off, the power bar automatically cuts power to all the peripherals, too!
LED lights are among the most energy-efficient options available and they have a very long life. Upgrading to LED isn’t as expensive as it was just five years ago and you don’t need to replace all of your light bulbs right away to see a difference. On average, incandescent bulbs cost more than $7 per year to use and last for about 1,000 hours compared to $1.14 for LED bulbs which last for 30,000 hours.
Add Solar Energy Solutions
You don’t need to go completely solar on your home to enjoy solar energy savings. Solar panels work like batteries that harness sunlight and store it as energy, which is sent to an inverter to be converted into electricity for your home. This can offset the amount of electricity you need to buy from your utility provider.
Sterling has gone solar by working with Sunprint Energy. Based on their “monthly solar panel production versus cost” results of a typical single-family home in Winnipeg, your solar energy system could reduce your energy bill by more than what it costs for the system itself. Because energy-efficient homes are growing in demand, solar energy can even improve the value of your home.
Keep in mind this will be a long-term investment, as the upfront cost for this solution can be high. Installing solar panels can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but consider how it pays to go green with energy-efficient advantages such as rebates available to lower your cost. If you are planning on building a new home, it’s important to discuss if you are interested in Solar right from the start. In some cases modifications may need to be made to the home plan to accommodate this.
Efficient Building Materials
The materials used to construct your home matter when it comes to your home’s energy efficiency. While you don’t have much choice in building materials when you already own a home or are looking at resale options, you do when it’s time to buy or build a new home. That’s because you choose your builder!
Building materials have come a long way in the last few decades and newer homes are typically much more energy-efficient than older homes in general, but the specifics vary by the builder. As you search for your next home, it’s worth it to ask builders about their building materials. Here’s more information about understanding energy efficiency ratings when you buy a home, including certifications to look for.
There are many examples of how new materials can improve the energy efficiency of your home. For example, rigid foam made from plants can be used as home insulation for resistance against mould, moisture, and heat. This type of insulation has a better R-value than fibreglass and its production is eco-friendly. We take into consideration the energy efficiency of all our construction materials from the ground up.
Buying a new home means you already have superior efficiency when it comes to appliances, insulation, and the HVAC system. Still, you can further reduce your monthly energy bill by tackling a few of these strategies for even greater savings.
How much can you save?
Photo credits: couple, thermostat, worker