Saving energy at home is not only good for the pocket – it’s better for the environment.
Most Calgary homes could be doing a little more to save energy but we often keep to old habits, despite new and more energy-efficient ways of doing things.
Over the course of a year, making small savings every day adds up.
Here are a few energy-saving tips that will help you shave a fair bit off your monthly energy bills.
Ways to save energy
Below we detail a few great tips to help you do a little more for energy conservation in your home, as well as lowering your monthly bills.
We have steered away from tips like “change your light bulbs to LED” and focused more on the “big-ticket” items that are real energy guzzlers.
Some of these energy-saving tips involve an initial investment upfront to replace equipment but the long-term benefits of these solutions are real.
Install a high-efficiency furnace in your home
If your home heating system is controlled by a furnace that hasn’t been changed in a decade or more, it may be running at low energy efficiency compared to modern ones on the market.
This is especially the case if your furnace hasn’t been cleaned and properly maintained every year.
Many Canadian homes run a forced-air furnace system, which heats the home by forcing warm air through ducts around the home. Installing a high-efficiency furnace in place of a model that is 15-25 years old can make an instant dent in your heating bills of up to 40 percent per year.
Newer, Energy Star models use less energy and waste less energy.
Repairs of very old furnaces can be costly and, if your heating bills have been climbing, it will definitely pay in the long term to switch to a newer model.
Upgrade other HVAC system components
Your HVAC system is likely one of the biggest consumers of electricity in your home. Up to half of your household energy use goes into heating and cooling.
Our long, freezing winters and warm summers mean that your HVAC system takes a pounding most of the year – either with heating and ventilation (the biggest contributor) or with air conditioning.
As we’ve seen already, upgrading your furnace to an Energy Star one can contribute big savings to your heating bills.
If possible, also upgrade old air conditioning units and ventilation systems for additional savings at the same time. Energy Star central air conditioning units are, on average, eight percent more efficient than conventional models.
Seal & insulate ventilation ducts
Ventilation ducts distribute the hot and cold air throughout your home – these need to be correctly sealed and insulated to conserve energy.
If you have a system of ducts buried in the walls and false ceilings, this can be difficult – but check the exposed ones (maybe in the attic or crawl spaces) to see if there is warm air escaping. If so, you are throwing money away unnecessarily. Make sure they are sealed.
Having everything in your HVAC system installed by professionals will ensure that your new furnace and air conditioning system performs at maximum energy efficiency.
Then, having it regularly and properly maintained ensures that dirt and neglect don’t cause an unnecessary decline in efficiency over the years.
Make sure that air filters are cleaned regularly and routine maintenance is performed by licensed technicians like the team at Pete the Plumber.
Consider a tankless hot water heater
In Calgary homes, you now have more options with your water-heating system than in the past.
Most homes have traditionally used hot water tanks, which store the hot water. This is a major contributor to your energy bills.
If you have a hot water tank, firstly make sure that there is an insulation jacket around it. Otherwise, it may be costing you money by using unnecessary energy to keep the water hot. You can also insulate the pipes that carry the water from the heater to the taps.
However, if you are considering replacing your hot water tank, consider a tankless water heating system.
These systems heat water only when you use it rather than storing it in a tank. The best Energy Star ones can save you money every month on your electricity or gas bills compared to traditional models. Over the 10-15-year lifespan, that can amount to significant savings.
Of course, turning electric water heaters off and gas water heaters down when you are away on vacation will also help you conserve energy.
Use programmable thermostats
Heating is one of the main contributors to energy usage in any Calgary home, as we know.
Programmable thermostats allow you to adjust temperatures precisely according to your schedule. They are a great way to save energy in your home without upgrading your HVAC system.
Every degree you turn the system down and every time the system is turned off, it is saving you energy and money.
For instance, most people wake up, go to work, and get home at approximately the same time each day. Programming your thermostats to regulate the temperature according to your needs at those times (and making sure you’re not heating the house unnecessarily when you sleep, for example) can lead to significant savings.
Some programmable thermostats can also flag HVAC system problems and indicate when you need to replace air filters, also aiding energy efficiency.
You will need a professional technician to set this up for you unless you are the king or queen of DIY!
Weather-strip your home
Weather-stripping for your windows and doors is a very cost-effective way to use less energy in your home.
No new appliances necessary and it’s a job that you should be able to do yourself (barely any tools are required).
Gaps between exterior doors and door jambs, windows and walls, and from vents or ducting are common.
Every gap is letting the cold air in and the warm air out in winter. They waste energy and potentially increase bills by up to 10 percent per month.
It’s really simple to plug the leaks with weather-stripping or a little caulking if there are air gaps between stationary objects.
To locate the gaps, simply run your fingers around the edge of doors, windows, ducting, etc. and find where the cool air is coming in!
Consider replacing windows
A final way to save energy at home is to consider more energy-efficient windows.
Even properly sealed single-pane windows will allow some energy to escape. Replacing these with double-pane windows can make a big difference and keep out drafts.
If you don’t want to replace your windows, consider adding solar shades or tinting film on southern facing windows that heat up your home excessively in the summer months.
Reduce your energy bills permanently
We all use energy at home every day – it’s a fact of life.
But why use more energy than necessary? It makes no sense to pay for what you don’t need or to burden the planet by generating extra energy for nothing.
Following some of the energy-saving tips outlined above can make a big difference. You can probably try some of them yourself.
Make An Informed Decision
For everything else to do with heating or plumbing, our professionals at Pete The Plumber are happy to help. Call (403) 257-1766.