Tag: Energy Efficient Solutions

Outdoor LED Light Bulbs

A few years ago, LED bulbs of any kind were very expensive and most people ignored them because of that. Even with rebates as incentives, the payback was just too long. However like all new technologies, mass production of outdoor LED light bulbs has enabled the price to come down substantially. Now it makes sense to buy these bulbs just to reduce the amount of electricity that we use and save money on our electrical bills. In addition there are still discounts from manufacturers and also from government agencies that consumers can use to decrease the cost of updating to the new cost saving LED’s. Before you buy, look for coupons in your newspaper, in flyers and also online.

Outdoor LED light bulbs will last many years and use about one tenth of the electricity at the same time. In some cases there is still a rebate available from your local electrical company for any kind of LED bulb which makes them even more attractive.

Outdoor LED Light Bulbs for Christmas Decoration

The biggest difference recently has been for Christmas lights for both indoor and outdoor LED bulbs. Now you can purchase strings of lights for the same price as the original Christmas tree lights, they operate at one tenth the cost, there is no heat so no worry about fire and you can attach many strings together and not be concerned about overloading the electrical circuit. The bulbs last forever virtually and you save electrical costs at the same time. What a great innovation!

Of course outdoor LED light bulbs are not limited to just Christmas tree lights. They are now appearing in house lights, emergency lights and so on. Manufacturers have developed the appropriate protective housing for the light bulbs so that they can be used just about anywhere. Many car manufacturers are using them in newer cars as well, reducing the weight as well as the power needed to generate sufficient electricity to power the lights.

The writers family has switched over to all fluorescent lights, which also last a long time, however not as long as the outdoor LED light bulbs. As the florescent lights stop working we will upgrade to the new outdoor LED light bulbs and the indoor LED light bulbs. It just makes so much sense.

Reduce Energy Consumption

It is so simple really, just turn the switch off! Run appliances such as washing machines and dryers at low peak times when energy is charged at it’s lowest levels. Turn down your thermostat to conserve energy in the winter time, Turn it up in the summer to reduce your overall energy consumption. There are probably a 100 little things that can be done if you make them into a habit. They will save you money and reduce energy consumption. Just take a look around your home. Anything that uses energy in any form is a candidate to be turned off. It will help reduce energy consumption and put money in your pocket.

When we started thinking about this around our own home we went for the obvious. Also the biggest contributors first. These were the lights of course. We turned them off if not in the room and we also converted from incandescent to fluorescent light bulbs which made a huge savings. Now you can convert to LED’s which save even more money. We are just waiting for the fluorescent we have to burn out. They have such a long life span, this might take a while and the LED’s last even longer.

Reduce Energy Consumption by Time of Day

We are on time of day billing for our energy consumption.  Basically the electrical energy rates cost much less in the evenings and are much higher in the daytime. We run dishwashers, washing machines and dryers after 7pm at night to take advantage of the lower energy rates in the evenings. We also have a pool so I installed a timer on the pool pump so that it runs only in the evenings. There has been no problem with algae or anything like that and the energy savings paid for the timer in the first year of operation.

Turning off other appliances when not in use such as TV’s and radios save small amounts. It is more a mindset than anything else once you have the big users of energy under control. Don’t forget that when you go away for the holidays to unplug everything before you leave to reduce your energy foot print to as small as possible.

Manage Energy Use at Home

Cooling Your RoofWhen you try to manage energy use at home it must become a way of life. In other words the entire family must support your attempt at reducing the cost of electricity, heating fuel and so on if you really want to make a substantial change. But it is a struggle to get the family on board. They are either not interested or they just do not care because they are not paying the bills!  If they have no idea of what the cost of electricity and heating fuel actually is, then they may not care that much that the cost of this energy  can be reduced putting more money in your pocket. Thus is typical in families and yet you can make it happen over time.

Creating Habits – Manage Energy Use

Even my spouse is hard to convince. We now do the laundry after seven at night because the cost if electricity is cheaper. My spouse does the laundry at that time because she knows that it would be upsetting to me if she did the laundry at some other time. I have this feeling that if I was not there she would do the laundry whenever she felt like it. When the cat is away, the mice will play is the expression that comes to mind. But we are making progress, we now use timers for some lights and we do the laundry after seven!

Set an Example – Manage Energy Use

There are two ways to manage energy use and the associated cost. First shift your use from peak rate times to low rate times e.g. Do the laundry in off peak time frames. Run your pool pump, your air conditioner, cook meals etc in off peak times to reduce your overall cost.

Secondly you can reduce your energy costs by using less energy. Energy efficient appliances, converting to LED lights, turning lights off when not in use etc. are all ways of reducing energy use. Managing your heating and cooling cost is another way to reduce your overall energy cost. Simply adjust the temperature so that your heating system and your cooling system does not run as often. You will save energy for sure. LED’S are by far the most efficient light that can be used and will save you a great deal of money. Most people just have to get over the initial sticker shock, but they are definitely worth it.

Automatic off switch for your lights

Always Ask for DiscountsWe recently stayed in a Hampton Inn in Cookeville Tennessee. This particular Hampton Inn has installed an Evolve system which controls all the lights in the room. All you have to do is place your key card in a switch. It is just inside the entrance to the room to turn on the lights, the TV and air conditioning.

When you leave , You take your key card with you and when you remove it from the light switch it automatically turns off all the lights, the TV and the air condition system. This is an excellent energy-saving maneuver by the Hampton Inn to reduce the cost of electricity and other charges. They are able to immediately reduce their electricity charges and reduce their cost. Customers of the hotel can of course circumvent the system by asking for an extra key and leave it in this switch, while they are out for dinner etc. However overall this approach will save money for the hotel chain and keep hotel rates as well lower for customers. The money they save on energy use should more than pay for installing this system.

Automatic Off Switch – Home Application

This might be something interesting for homes to also use however it may require rewiring your house or installing special switches that connect to all of your lights and other devices in your home. There is a cost to all of these things and although you are saving energy, the question is whether you will save enough to cover the cost of the equipment. Many consumers will be able to save sufficient money simply by converting to LED bulbs vs using the older traditional incandescent lights.

LED bulbs, although they cost much more, will last for many years and use much less electricity at the same time. As a home owner I would invest in LED lights first to gain the maximum savings from reduced energy immediately and then think about automatic off switch for our lights. These automatic switches would be more for convenience than anything else since I have already gained most of the savings from converting to LED lights. In fact the difference in energy use for LED’s may in fact preclude spending money on these sophisticated auto switches. You really have to do a small business case to assess the cost vs. savings before you spend any money on automation.

Tips for Saving Energy

Computers and Office Equipment

Shut your computer down when not in use to save electricity and reduce wear on your system.

Electronic devices left plugged in, even when turned off, still draw power. That’s called phantom power or standby power, and it’s costing you money. Plug the following electronics into a power bar with a timer or auto-shut off and make sure they are off during periods of inactivity. For example: a television, home theater system, computer, monitor, printer, scanner, rechargeable devices (MP3 players, cell phones, battery chargers etc.), and game console al consume power when plugged in, even when they are turned off. By reducing this unnecessary power use, you could help save up to 15% of your electricity use and also prolong the life of your systems as well, since all electronics degrade over time if they are constantly in use.

When replacing your computer, look for an ENERGY STAR qualified model. Laptops typically will  use less energy than desktop models.

A screen-saver doesn’t save energy.
Make sure any computer you purchase has an automatic power-down function that will automatically switch the monitor into sleep mode (preferably a deep sleep mode) after a set period of inactivity. (A feature mandatory to bear the ENERGY STAR symbol). Applying a screen saver just turns the scree to black, however all functions are still turned on.

Tips for Saving Energy at the Office

Here are some more tips for saving energy at the office. Not surprisingly, the tips that apply at home also apply at the office as well.  As an owner you can reap the benefits by reducing your operating expenses. For employees it is about doing the right thing and helping your company stay profitable which means jobs are preserved. Something we all care very much about in these times of volatile economies.

  • Be sure to always turn the equipment and lights off after hours.
  • Unplug coffeemakers, toasters and microwaves before shutting the office down at the end of the day, weekends or holidays.
  • Take advantage of the sun. Open shades and blinds during daylight hours. Let the sun heat and light your space naturally; shade it when it’s hot. In the winter, close your blinds and drapes in the evening.
    Whenever possible, choose ENERGY STAR qualified products.
  • Take the time to set the energy-saving features on all of your office equipment to put them into sleep mode when not in use.
  • Dress comfortably for the weather. Adjust your layers before adjusting the thermostat.
  • Use revolving doors to access entrances. It keeps cool/hot air inside.
  • Keep entrance doors closed.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Improving Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency AuditYou may have seen similar diagrams and pictures of homes showing the areas where heat loss occurs in your home. This particular one is from an article in Britain and therefore the savings are indicated in pounds rather than dollars. Don’t be concerned about the currency. We all have the same issues when it comes to improving energy savings for our homes. If you are not well insulated, then  you are going to lose heat somewhere. That means it is going to cost you money as well.

You may have upgraded your furnace and your water heater to the latest models. You are already achieving high efficiency with these devices. When we say high efficiency, anything above 95% efficient is considered high efficiency. Especially compared to older models which were down in the 60% range. Consumers who have taken this step to upgrade their furnace are already saving money. They are using the fuel they are paying for as efficiently as possible.

Improving Energy Efficiency – Where is the Heat Loss

But the next area to be concerned about is what is happening to the heat once it is distributed within your home. Is most of it escaping out through the roof, the walls, the windows or the doors? As you can see from this diagram or picture, a great deal of heat loss can occur if you do not take steps to properly insulate your attic, walls, windows and doors in your home. You may already have insulation in your attic and as far as you know the rest of the house is ok.

Have an energy consultant assess your home and give an estimate of what it would take to make your home more energy efficient. Windows can be upgraded to with double pains and argon in between to deliver maximum efficiency. Also apply caulking around them to ensure that there are no gaps to allow air to escape or enter the home along with insects and possibly moisture. Your windows can allow a third of your heat to escape unless they are properly installed and efficient.

Conduct a Pressure Test

By doing a pressure test of your home you can also find out where all of the leaks are. By applying caulking in these areas and also plugging or adding insulation as appropriate, consumers can reduce the drafts as well as reduce their heat loss and improve their heating bills as well. Doors and floors can be responsible for as much as 11% according to these estimates of your total heat loss. Even though lower than the windows, it is still substantial and relatively easy to repair and inexpensive as well. A pressure test may cost you something, the real question is how quickly will you recover this cost through energy savings?

The roof or attic is the next major area to tackle. First make sure the attic is adequately vented to remove heat from your attic. By removing the heat naturally, the cost to cool your home would also be reduced. Insulation in your attic should be at least R25 or higher to decrease the amount of energy being lost through the roof area.

Following these areas can be the best way to improving energy efficiency.

Improve Energy Efficiency

How can home owners improve energy efficiency? And also reduce their energy bills as well? Frankly most consumers probably do not car that much how energy efficient their appliances etc are, they just want a lower monthly bill for their electrical usage and their heating or cooling energy use. The same applies to their car since most people just know what it will cost them to fill up their gas tank in their car and it is getting higher all of the time. In fact everything is going up and it is becoming more important to take advantage of every energy efficient thing you can do to reduce your total cost. In this post we will take a look at a few things that can at least reduce or control how much your energy bills are going to be.

Improve Energy Efficiency Around the Home

The first step is to know what your energy is costing you today and over the past 12 months. If people can see some improvement then they will feel a lot more motivated to control their energy costs and take steps to reduce their overall use of energy. Collect you bills for the past 12 months and add up the total cost of your electrical usage, your heating costs and your cooling costs. Electrical may already include your cooling costs if you use AC to cool your home.

Now that you know what you paid in the past 12 months, the next step is to determine if your utility plans to raise the price at all over the next 12 months. Most utilities try to work in a price increase every 12 months, so you need to be aware of this when you are comparing year over year.

The next step is to look at what you can do to reduce your overall energy usage. There is nothing scientific about this step. It is just being consistent and getting your family to participate and help you. Turn lights off when you are not in the room. Wash and dry clothes when in off peak hours if your electricity is billed in peak and non peak times. Set your air conditioner to do most of it’s work during non-peak times. Set your air conditioner one or two degrees higher on average to further reduce your power usage. The same applies if you need to heat your home in the winter. Set your temperature lower on average and lower when you are not at home. Make use of computer controlled thermostat to heat or cool your home accordingly.

Decrease Water Usage

Water usage can be decrease as well if you are careful. You do not want your lawn to die from lack of water, however you can water in the evening to reduce evaporation. You can water specific plants rather than watering everything. Wash dishes in the dishwasher when there is a full load. Apply the same rule to washing clothes in the washing machine. Install efficient toilets and efficient shower heads to further decrease the water use.

Compare your bills and in particular the usage rate for kilowatts used, or Ccf of water and so on along with the total cost to see how much energy and money you are saving. Allow for a few months and then look at the total for a quarter.

Improve Energy Efficiency While You Drive

All those jack rabbit stops and starts really use a lot of gas. So does driving around town and tires that are under pressurized. Your tires and brakes also wear faster as well. Keep your car properly turned up and walk or take the bus when you can instead of driving around the block to the corner store.

Reduce Utility Costs for Water, Cable, Telephone to Save Even More Money

You may not save money from an energy perspective, but consumers can save a great deal of money by negotiating lower rates for these services. Cut back on features or buy your own PVR instead of renting it forever. Sometimes by just talking to the utility and asking if there is a better deal for what you have is all that is needed to save a few dollars a month.

Some people will say that they are not concerned about a few dollars. It is not that much so why should I spend my time on a small amount. Well a few dollars on each utility can add up to a $100 a month or $1200 a year. Now that is worthwhile in my books to look at and consider. We all can do a lot with this kind of money!

Save Energy This Spring

Save Energy This SpringEvery day is a day to save energy, however on this post we will spend a little time discussing how to save energy this spring. The picture shows that a regular light bulb will consume more energy than a small computer monitor. It is so easy to change this situation. Convert  from incandescent light bulbs to fluorescent bulbs or the new LED bulbs. We have written articles on both of these on our website and calculated the cost savings for each. Take a look at these posts if you are interested.

Depending on how you program your thermostat, you could save up to 10% on your year-round heating and cooling costs. For consumers in the northern USA and in Canada, heating costs are the predominant energy expense. Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter to save heating fuel. As well as electricity that is not being used to drive fans and keep the home warm. In the summer time, especially in the southern US, air conditioning is a huge cost to many people. Closing your window shades and setting the thermostat a few degrees warmer can also save a great deal of electricity.

Save Energy This Spring

Get Rid of your old Fridge and Freezer

At various times during the year, power companies will pay for a 3rd party company to pick up old freezers and fridges for free. They will recycle them. You reduce you electricity further, especially if this fridge or freezer is not being replaced. New appliances are much more energy efficient. They will have more features as well. Get rid of that 20 year old or older freezer and save energy. If you only use it during part of the year for example in the fall, then unplug it. Clean it out and leave the lid open to air it out when you are not using the appliance. At least you can save some energy during part of the year.

Take advantage of Coupons

Coupons with values ranging from $1 to $10 are available for a limited time to replace existing incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs. Also energy-efficient fixtures, timers, dimmer switches, indoor motion sensors, power bars and even clothesline. These coupons are available not only in the spring but pretty much all year round. They can save consumers a great deal of money not only in the purchase of these lights. But also in the daily use of electricity that will be reduced. These coupons are usually sponsored by the local government. They trying to encourage people to convert to reduced energy-consuming devices. These coupons can make a huge difference in the amount of money you pay for fluorescent or LED bulbs.

Clean all of Your Furnace Filters

Your furnace has worked all winter long and now will take a short rest until the time comes to start cooling the house. Replace the filter to maximize air flow through the furnace. Also clean any debris that may have collected around the outdoor unit of the AC unit. Sometimes leaves and twigs collect around these units which can lower the efficiency. You should have your furnace inspected at least once per year to make sure that it is operating at peak efficiency.

Time of Day Energy Use

In some locations across Canada and the USA, electricity companies have started charging for electricity based on the time of day the electricity is used. The higher rates are during the day time and the lower rates are in the evenings and at night usually after 7pm. Any time you can delay the use of electricity to the evening is going to save you money and energy use. For example running the dish washer after 7pm or drying clothes after 7pm will save a great deal of energy cost due to the lower rates that are charged in these time frames.

Check out you local utility to see what rates they charge during various times of the day to see if this is applied in your area and whether it would save you any money if you were to run these electrical devices after the 7pm time frame.

There are many more ways to reduce your energy use and we have only covered some of the major ones. Every home is different and consumer living standards and schedules are also different. If you take the time to evaluate all of your energy use and ask yourself if there are ways to reduce your electrical use, you may find many other ways to reduce your energy foot print and your cost much more. If you do let us know and leave a comment or two about the ways you have found to manage your energy use and reduce your overall cost.


Efficient Use of Energy

The chart on the left forecasts how fast the energy consumption curve is growing. Also how it compares to past years. If this chart does not persuade you that we should find ways to promote the efficient use of energy, then I do not know what will. Consider that our energy growth is continuing at a high rate.

Although we are finding more and more ways to generate energy, it is costing us more and more all of the time. With demand growing, and supplies being limited, there is no question that the price we pay for gasoline, for electricity or for natural gas is going to increase. The only way for us to offset this cost is to make sure that we are making efficient use of energy in all situations. Our transportation, our homes and were we work are the three big consumers of energy. We will cover a few of these in the following paragraphs for each of these areas.

Efficient Use of Energy – Transportation

The single largest expense for transportation is our car that we use to go back and forth to work. As well as for leisure activities. The price of fuel is going up all of the time. Anything we can do in this area reduces our energy consumption. It also saves us money and helps our bank account.

Making sure that the tires are properly inflated, that the engine is tuned up, that the car itself is a gas miser and driving in such a way that we conserve gasoline are all ways to improve the efficiency of our cars. Minimizing jack rabbit starts and stops. Ddriving at the speed limit really make a huge contribution to gas savings. Even 10 miles over the speed limit will cause your car to work harder. It will deliver fewer miles per gallon than it would at the speed limit.

Can you take the bus to work? If so you can save in a lot of ways. Reduced gas consumption, reduced wear and tear on your car. Also no parking to pay for, reduced insurance costs, fewer accidents statistically. The bus is a lot more efficient especially if you are taking express buses that are full. It may be an inconvenience to take the bus. It may take more time. However it is a lot less stress on you as a driver. You are making efficient use of energy which saves you money in the long run.

Efficient Use of Energy – Our Homes

Our homes are another big contributor to the energy we use. Heating and cooling, along with the water we use are the main users of energy. Insulating our homes better, adjusting the thermostat to save cooling and heating costs, updating windows and doors to be better insulators and generally making our homes more efficient will make a huge contribution to energy efficiency. We have several detailed pages on this website about how to reduce energy use in the home. These savings put more money in our bank account.

We can also make more efficient use of energy in our homes by managing the waste we generate. All of the packaging and the things we use that breakdown and then get thrown out contribute to a lot of energy use in their production and then in landfill sites that we fill. Every time we purchase something give some thoughts about how this can be reduced. Use recycling bins for paper and cans so that these things do not end up in the landfill sites. Be a minimalist and save thousands of dollars a year!

Efficient Use of Energy – Were we Work

We have more influence at work than we think when it comes to energy reduction. For those people in management, it is pretty obvious. Anytime you and your team can work smarter, more efficiently etc the company makes more money. You are reducing the energy that is used. Influencing lights being turned off, computers shut down at night, the trash that gets generated, how buildings are designed. Also how products are manufactured etc are all specific things that many of us can make a large contributing to.

Take a look at your work location and assess today what you can do to reduce your company’s energy foot print. You might be surprised at the savings and even be rewarded for it as well.

Energy Efficiency Audit

Energy Efficiency AuditEnergy efficiency audits can tell you a lot about your home. Our home is approximately 25 years old. It is in need of some upgrades regarding windows that need replacement. Also a furnace that needs to be replaced and even our hot water tank. We were wondering if we should apply for an energy efficiency audit. Or just make the changes we planned and proceed from there. You have to pay for the audit. In some jurisdictions you will receive some of the money back once you complete the audit of all of the changes you have made and confirm that your home is now more energy efficient.

As far as we can tell there are a couple of reasons why you would want to have an energy efficiency audit completed. We have listed them below and then we will discuss them in some more detail:

  • Potential rebates for expenses to improve your home
  • Potential sales tool when it comes to selling your home
  • Scientific approach to fixing energy problems

We have read a number of posts from people who have had an energy efficiency audit completed. As well as looked at a number of web sites from official government sources. Our conclusion is that it really depends on were you live. In addition what programs are available to help consumers improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Each person must evaluate these factors based on were they live and the condition of their home, before they embark on an energy efficiency audit.

Energy Efficiency Audit

Potential rebates for expenses to improve your home

One post we read indicated that after the audit was completed and the rebates provided, the audit cost approximately $100 which is not too bad. Once you have the audit with recommendations for what needs to be done to improve your home you are eligible for rebates. You can then apply for rebates on the upgrades only after the work is completed. Before you can apply, you must have another audit to prove that you actually made some changes. In addition that your energy efficiency actually got better.

The rebates will depend on what you did and what is available in your state or province. Be prepared to shoulder the full financial cost in case the rebates do not apply. Or they are canceled or they feel that you did not do enough to improve your energy efficiency.

Potential sales tool when it comes to selling your home

This may or may not be something that everyone is interested in. If you are planning to sell your home anytime soon and also planning to do some upgrades in preparation, having one of these reports can only be a good thing. That is assuming that the report shows improvement . But also shows that you have a good rating for your home in terms of energy efficiency.

I guess if your audit does not work out, they you just do not mention it when it comes time to sell your home.

Scientific approach to fixing energy problems

We have thought about just going ahead and doing some of the up grades our selves without an audit. For example upgrade the furnace, replace the windows, seal all of the doors and add insulation in the attic.

What we would lose is any rebates that the government is providing which may or may not be substantial. We might also be spending money for nothing.

I recently spoke to a neighbor who has original windows in his home like ours. He just had an audit completed and the auditor said that there was no need to replace the windows. Since the R rating was ok and there were no leaks or areas were the wood was failing i.e. rotting. His energy rating was also pretty good. Basically he found out that if he spent some money on his house, he probably would not be eligible for any grants since his home was already pretty good.

The bottom line is that if you approach the problem in a scientific manner, you will get a better result. Hence also make better more informed decisions as well about improving your home from an energy efficiency perspective.

This is the best way to proceed, we think in terms of knowing what state your home is actually in. We will be looking into having someone come over to complete an energy audit for us before we spend any significant amount of money.

Improving Energy Efficiency in Homes

Improving Energy Efficiency in HomesImproving energy efficiency in homes is becoming more and more important as oil prices and gas prices continue to rise. We all are becoming more concerned about  energy these days. How much it costs us? Were it is coming from? What it is doing to the environment? How can we control our cost of using energy? Ultimately the only things within our control is how much we use and what steps can we take to improving energy efficiency in our homes leading to a decrease in the overall cost of the energy we use.

If we can purchase our energy at the cheapest price we can find and then minimize the amount of energy that we use, then we are saving as much as humanly possible. The trade off of course is what does it cost us to save a dollar of energy. If we have an old fridge and have to spend a $1000 to get an energy efficient fridge, is it worth the investment? We do not think so unless you plan to replace the fridge for other reasons. then you should buy the most energy efficient fridge you can find.

So what are the steps we can take towards improving energy efficiency in homes. We have compiled a general list that many consumers can consider and use depending on their personal situation and their current energy foot print as it relates to our homes.

Improving Energy Efficiency in Homes

Check for Leaks

There are many locations around your home were cold air can leak into your home in the winter time and hot air in the summer. Check for leaks around your windows and doors were there is a bad seal, a bad fit or missing weather stripping. Seal up all of these locations so that air cannot escape. You can even arrange to do a compression test to determine how much air you are losing and were the leaks are.

Fill all holes around Water Lines, Cable, etc

Whenever utilities must enter your home, they always drill holes through the foundation or the upper walls. These holes are sources for insects to come through along with air that can leak in either direction. In most cases they are already plugged, however it is a good idea to check all of them to make sure that no air can escape in either direction. Check water lines, electrical lines, cable TV lines, Telephone lines, gas lines, central vac systems that exhaust to the outside, air conditioning systems and any others that may exit or enter your home.

Improving Energy Efficiency in Homes – Caulk the Exterior

Check around your homes exterior and caulk any locations that you feel might be a source for air to penetrate. Check around windows, doors, exhaust vents and any utilities as previously discussed. Seal all of them to ensure your home is air tight.

Manage the Thermostat

This is a big one and can save you a lot of money by reducing your homes energy consumption. You can save 20 or 30% by setting your thermostat cooler in the winter at night and when you are not home. No need to heat your home at normal temperatures when you are not in the home. Same things goes for the summer time, when you can turn up the thermostat to reduce cooling costs when you are not there.

Close The Blinds in Summer

The sun can add a lot of heat to your home in the summer simply by shining in through your windows. Close the blinds on windows facing the sun to reduce the cost of cooling in the summer time. Keep them open during the winter to take advantage of the suns heat in the winter time.

Improving Energy Efficiency in Homes – Turn off Lights and Appliances

It is surprising how many people do not turn off lights in rooms they are not in. Same thing with appliances. By turning them off you can contributed to improving the energy efficiency of your home. Not only do you save the energy the appliance uses when not turned on, you reduce the cooling cost as well. All devices generate some level of heat when they are on and you have to add this to your cooling load in the summer time.

Upgrade to Energy Efficient Devices

Everything from removing incandescent lights, to using low flow faucets, to dual flush toilets can be implemented in your home to improve the overall energy efficiency of you home. All of these devices will cost some money, however the payback is getting more reasonable all of the time as the cost of energy increases. Although you are probably not going to shell out a thousand dollars to upgrade a major appliance  just because it is energy efficient, there comes a time when it is necessary so you may as well get the most efficient one you can when it is time.

Look at Everything with Energy Efficiency in Mind

While we cannot cover everything in one post, we encourage everyone to look at everything they do with energy efficiency in mind. Take every opportunity you can to reduce your energy footprint. Ultimately it will save you money in the long run as prices go up and up. Furnaces,  water heaters, air conditioners, and major appliances fall into the category of major energy users with a long payback if you are only looking at energy savings. Many of these items need to be replaced simply because they get old and cannot be repaired. Always go for the energy efficient appliances when it comes time and look for discounts and coupons offered by  companies and governments for energy efficient devices.

Programmable Thermostats

Programmable ThermostatsWith all of the emphasis on reducing energy costs, it would seem that using programmable thermostats should save you money.  It turns out that programmable thermostats are just like anything else used by consumers. If used correctly they will save you some money in terms of heating or cooling costs. But in the wrong hands, a programmable thermostat can actually cost you more for heating and cooling your home!

The Right Way to Program a Thermostat

Turns out that the rule of thumb is to set the temperature for a period of 8 hours and leave it there. If you do this every day then you probably will save money. For example, when you go to bed, there is an 8 hour stretch were you can turn the heat down for heating purposes and reduce your energy costs. The same thing when you go to work. However if someone is constantly fiddling with the thermostat, and adjusting it every few hours either manually or by programming, you can end up using more energy than necessary.

A 1978 research paper (“Energy Savings through Thermostat Setbacks” by Nelson and MacArthur) confirmed basic physics. On average, if you turn the thermostat down by one degree Fahrenheit for eight hours every night, you’ll use about 1% less energy. (So, if you turn the temperature down by 10 degrees every night, you’ll use about 10% less energy.) But note that you’ll see less savings in milder climates (the bigger the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures, the more you save by adjusting the thermostat) and with electric heat.

The Real Answer About Programmable Thermostats

If you are motivated to reduce your heating and cooling costs then you are going to be setting your thermostat lower to be gin with when heating and higher when cooling and you are going to leave the setting alone. You do not need a programmable thermostat to do this. Rather it is all about what you as an individual and your family want the temperature in your home to be.

A programmable thermostat will help you manage the temperature better, but it alone will not save you money. If people in your family are constantly adjusting the temperature then you are going to pay more for energy. It is just that simple. No thermostat is going to change this unless you put it under lock and key. You might end up with a revolt in your family if you actually try this.

There were a number of studies that have been conducted that proved this point. We included an excerpt here for readers . See below.

If your motivation is to reduce your energy costs and save money, consider a programmable thermostat as a tool to help you accomplish your goals. By itself they will not save money. You need to program these thermostats to adjust the temperature in the same manner that you would have manually adjusted the temperature on a manual thermostat. Set the temperature once for an 8 hour period and leave it there.

Turning down the temperature for 8 hour periods will definitely save you money , only if you leave it and do not play with it.

Where’s the savings?

In 2007, RLW Analytics prepared a report for GasNetworks, a New England-based energy company. “Validating the Impact of Programmable Thermostats” found that using an Energy Star-certified programmable thermostat produced an average savings of about “6.2% of total household annual natural gas consumption”. Those who installed programmable thermostats into older heating systems saved an average of 6.8%.

Note: The New England study also found that people who micromanage their manual thermostats use more energy. This was in comparisonto those who just leave them at predefined points for longer periods of time.




Setting your Thermostat to Save Heating Costs

This is the time of year when the weather is cold and the furnace is running more often that consumers begin to pay attention once again to were they set their thermostat.  Setting your Thermostat to Save Heating Costs is a huge trend. There is often a discussion between spouses regarding what temperature to set the thermostat at. Now as utilities introduce time of day billing, charging higher rates for peak times and lower rates for off peak, those with electric heating may want to pay even more attention to the temperature they maintain their homes at. You can reduce your electricity cost by using electricity in off peak periods.

Setting your Thermostat to Save Heating CostsEven if you use central heating systems such as gas or oil, you still want to give this some consideration. Not only do you reduce the amount of gas or oil that you use, you also reduce the amount of electricity you use running the fan.

Should you turn down the thermostat when you are not at home or at night when everyone is sleeping? Does it matter how you heat your home – gas, oil or electricity?

The answer is that it depends!

When you heat your home, regardless of the type of heating system you have, heat will escape from your home, at the same rate, regardless of the heating system you use. The rate depends two things:

  • The insulation you have in your home in the walls and the ceiling or attic and how well sealed your home is will determine how much heat is lost and how fast it escapes.
  • Secondly the greater the difference in temperature between the outside and the inside of the home, the greater the rate of heat loss as well.

Maintaining your home at a lower temperature overall will mean there  is less difference in temperature differential and therefore less heat escaping. In other words you are spending less energy to heat your home. Keep your thermostat at the lowest required temperature at all times. For example many people use a programmable or setback thermostat, where you can set the temperature to rise to comfort level (e.g. 68F / 20C) just before you get up, back down to economy level (e.g. 62F / 17C) just before you leave for work/school, back up to comfort level around the time you get home from work or school, and back down to economy level around bedtime.

Setting your Thermostat to Save Heating Costs   – Cost of Energy

The cost of energy is also an important issue. If you pay the same price for energy regardless of the time of day, then you probably will not need to give this point much consideration.

On the other hand if you are heating your home using electricity for example. And you are on a system that charges more per kilo watt at peak times. Then you will not want to heat your home with expensive electricity. There are several choices you have given this situation.

  • Set your thermostat to the lowest temperature that you can stand during the peak time for electrical rates. You will still use electricity, but at least you will keep it to a minimum.
  • Another approach is to warm up your home prior to peak rates, perhaps warmer than you normally would, and then allow the home to cool during the day while rates are at peak levels.
  • The success of this latter approach really depends on well insulated your home is. If it is not well insulated, or has many drafty areas, then you will have limited success with this approach.

Save Money Regardless of the Energy Source

Even if you heat with gas or oil which is the same price regardless of the time of day, there is still a small electrical component that you may want to take into consideration. The fan must run to distribute the heat through the home. When it does it uses electricity. Keeping the temperature low during peak electrical rate times, will help to minimize your overall heating bill.

Lastly, many people will set their furnace fans to being on all of the time. There are some advantages to this approach. It helps to maintain humidity levels at better levels in the dry winter months. It also helps to maintain a more constant temperature level throughout the home. On the other hand, when the fan is running even at low speeds it is consuming energy in the form of electricity and this contributes to your overall energy bill.

If you have comments on this post or have suggestions please feel free to leave your comments on our post for our readers to help them save money and operating costs for their home.

Reduce Your Monthly Electrical Costs

Monthly Electrical CostsReduce your monthly electrical costs is becoming more important all the time as rates rise in most jurisdictions. The previous post referred to a significant increase in the cost of electricity for people living in the province of Ontario, Canada and specifically in Ottawa. Although we have not confirmed, we suspect that most jurisdictions across North America will experience the same kind of increases over the next few years. We are talking about increases of 200% or more over the next 5 years. These numbers are significant and if nothing else it means that we all should think about how much electricity usage we can reduce in order to save costs.

This is the main focus of this web site and posts, however we encourage our readers to become active on political sites as well to put pressure on the government to manage and reduce costs for the generation of electricity across the province. Enough about why we need to think about reducing electrical costs and political overtones. How can we reduce our electricity costs by conserving energy and using less energy contributing to less greenhouse energy impact on the earth.

Monthly Electrical Costs

We have composed a long list of things that the average homeowner can consider. Some will apply directly while others will only apply to consumers in specific situations so pick and choose those that make sense for your situation. You may have seen many of these previously on other posts, however hopefully there are some that are new that will help you manage your energy and electrical usage.

Here we go, in no particular order.

Monthly Electrical Costs Reduction with an Immediate Payback

  • Turn your lights off in rooms not being used
  • Cook foods with a microwave
  • Turn the furnace down (saves electricity and fuel needed for heating)
  • Unplug charging units when not in use
  • Unplug TV sets if not being used
  • Keep the coils clean and free of dust under your fridge
  • Do not use the dishwasher dry cycle
  • Run appliances etc in off peak hours
  • Dry your clothes during off peak hours
  • thaw frozen food in the fridge
  • Unplug computers when not in use
  • Program computers to go into sleep mode
  • Wash full loads in the laundry
  • Use the oven window instead of opening the door
  • Use the microwave or toaster oven instead of a full size oven

Electricity reduction with a Delayed Short Term Payback

  • Lights on timers
  • Outdoor Lights using photo sensors
  • Use a programmable thermostat to take advantage of off peak rates
  • Use a ceiling fan to move air around to avoid air conditioning
  • Switch to Compact Fluorescent bulbs
  • Consider a hot water jacket for your hot water heater
  • Use LED lights for Christmas decoration
  • Sign up for Energy reduction programs to avoid brownouts

Electricity reduction with a Longer  Term Payback

  • Upgrade older appliances (fridge, stove, washing M/C, Dryer) with new energy efficient M/C’s
  • Insulate windows to reduce heating costs
  • Insulate attics to reduce heating costs
  • Also Insulate wall receptacles on outside walls
  • Arrange for an energy audit to be completed
  • Use blinds on windows to reduce air conditioning costs

Some of these ideas will also help to reduce your heating and cooling costs as well, particularly if you heat your home by using natural gas. We will soon add a similar blog post about how to reduce your heating costs as well since this is a great time of year to consider how large your heating bills will be during the winter.

I am sure there are a lot more ideas about how to reduce electricity costs. We would love to hear about them, so please comments on our blog.

Electricity Costs Going Up

Electricity Costs Going UpThe following article came from an online post by the Ottawa Citizen. We included it here so that more readers would see this information. Maybe it would also be the trigger for more people to think about reducing their electrical usage. Also reduce their electrical costs.

These increases that are planned because of mismanagement at Ontario Hydro. There is no doubt in our minds that rates are going up. Unfortunately the only thing that the average Ontario resident can do is to vote the liberals out of office. They can also reduce the amount of electricity they use. Please refer to our next post for ideas on how to reduce your electrical costs. Again in 2013,  two years later we are experiencing another annual increase in the cost of our electricity in the province of Ontario.

Electricity Costs Going Up

OTTAWA — Ottawa residents can expect their electricity bills to soar by more than 40 per cent by 2015. According to an analysis filed with the Ontario Energy Board.

The report, done for Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) by Aegent Energy Advisors, tallies up anticipated hydro cost increases from a dozen different sources between now and early 2015.

It concludes that Ontario residents and businesses will pay a total of $7.7 billion more for electricity over the next five years.

The Citizen used the CME analysis to calculate how much Ottawa residents could be paying for electricity by 2015.

The average residential customer in Ottawa now pays about $117 a month. This includes HST, for 800 kilowatt hours of electricity.

If the CME’s calculations are correct, that will rise by nearly $49 to about $166 a month by 2015. That’s an additional $587 a year — an increase of 41.8 per cent over current costs.

Residential customers in Ottawa are already paying 17.7 per cent more for electricity than they were just this spring. Thanks to rate hikes approved May 1 by the OEB and the imposition of the HST July 1.

Alarm over Increasing Costs

The CME isn’t the only body raising the alarm over soaring electricity costs.

In an analysis posted to his blog Tuesday, Energy consultant Tom Adams predicts that by October 2011, Ontario’s residential power price “will blow past the 200-per-cent mark” relative to the price consumers paid when Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals took office in 2003.

In an interview with the Citizen last month, Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid acknowledged that electricity rates will continue to rise to pay for the province’s “critical investments” in clean and reliable power.

However, Duguid wouldn’t estimate how large the increases will be because the Ontario Power Authority is still working on a long-term energy plan, expected this fall.

The CME analysis contains even worse news for businesses, institutions and other non-residential customers. It projects their electricity costs could jump by between 47.1 and 63.7 per cent by 2015.

That could have dire consequences for Ontario manufacturers that use a lot of electricity, CME officials warn.

While energy represents just two to three per cent of manufacturing costs overall, that can rise to as much as 30 per cent for the steel, chemical and refinery industries, said Paul Clipsham, CME’s director of policy and business intelligence.

Many Cannot Deal With these Increases

“For some, it could potentially be unmanageable,” he said.

For many manufacturers, said Ian Howcroft, CME’s Ontario vice-president, the projected increases would have “a significant impact on their ability to compete in North America and globally.”

Some will likely look for opportunities to shift operations to other jurisdictions where energy is cheaper, Howcroft said. “That’s a major concern and a major consideration that I think we have to look at.”

The CME filed its analysis with the energy board in response to an application by Hydro One. Which operates Ontario’s high-voltage transmission lines, for rate increases of 15.7 per cent in 2011 and 9.8 per cent in 2012.

It argues the OEB should consider the application in conjunction with all the other factors that are jacking up electricity bills.

Foremost among them, it says, is the government’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program, which offers generous 20-year contracts to producers of solar, wind and other forms of green energy.

The CME report assumes 10,500 megawatts of pricey FIT generation will be on line by July 2015.

Based on that, it says the FIT program will be responsible for about half its predicted $54.15 per megawatt hour increase in electricity costs by early 2015. One megawatt hour is equal to 1,000 kilowatt hours.

Transmission and Distribution

Increases in transmission and distribution rates will account for further one quarter of the projected increase, the CME report says. A medley of other factors — everything from the cost of power from restarted units at the Bruce nuclear generating station to rate increases for Ontario Power Generation — makes up the balance.

Including HST, these various elements will drive up residential rates by $61.19 per megawatt hour by 2015, CME’s analysis concludes.

Clipsham said CME asked Aegent to do the analysis so the OEB. Which deals with numerous requests for incremental rate increases, could see Hydro One’s latest submission in full context.

“You have all these individual filings, but nobody, at least publicly, is looking at the big picture,” Clipsham said. Once you do that, “it really adds up to some significant costs over the five-year period.”

He said CME hopes the energy board will take steps to mitigate the impact of the rate increases it foresees.

“Our grand vision would be that the government would also acknowledge these findings. They can use them for their own purposes,” he said.

Closing Vents in Unused Rooms

should I close vents in unused roomsClosing vents in unused rooms is a great way to save money heating or cooling your home. Closing the vents off and also the cold air return vents is a great way to save energy. Only heat those areas in your home that need to be heated. If you close the cold air vent return, make sure you have a hot air vent return close to the ceiling before closing the cold air vent. Older homes may not have a hot and a cold air vent return. If you are not using them, why heat them or cool those rooms? Remove all of your plants and anything that might be damaged by excessive heat or cold and save yourself some money.

This is a great way to save money, however, there is a smart way to shut the vents off.  We would appreciate your comments as well since we are always looking for ways to save money.

There are a couple of things to watch however and take into consideration, especially in winter when it is below freezing.

Closing Vents in Unused Rooms 

Heating Rooms With Water Pipes

Any pipes with water in them will freeze and a leaking pipe can cause a lot of damage. If there are pipes in the room such as a bathroom, you pretty much have to heat that room to avoid any possibility of a frozen water pipe. Take this suggestion very seriously, because water can cause thousands of dollars in damage.

Cooling Rooms

On the other hand, if you are trying to save money by cutting down on the air conditioning, you can pretty much shut off any vents you want to avoid cooling more area and save on the cost of cooling. Always make sure that there is a clear area for air to flow in rooms you want to have cooled. There must be a vent delivering air to the room and a vent to return the air to the furnace for central air-conditioned homes. If you do not complete this circuit, the air conditioning will not work properly. It may damage your air conditioning unit and cost even more.

Location of Your Thermostat

In order to effectively save money, you must take into account the location of your thermostat. If it is in a room that you do not use and want to shut off from either heating or cooling you are out of luck. The thermostat will control the temperature in the room that it is in. This impacts the rest of the house. Shutting off the vents in this room is only going to cause the furnace to run longer in a heating situation. The same with cooling since there is no air circulation in the room. So leave the vents open in this room were your thermostat is located including cold air return vents and hot air return vents.

Cold Air Return Vents

This is another issue to take into account. Most homes will have a cold air return vent located in all of the major areas of the home. For example, we have two downstairs, one in the family room and another in the living room which is the 2nd part of the house. In addition, there are two more upstairs, one in the hallway and the other in the master bedroom. These vents must be left open for air to circulate properly.

Hot Air Return Vents.

These vents are located in the same location as the cold air return vents. However, they are located at the ceiling level instead of the floor level. In the winter time cold air settles to the floor. It is drawn into the cold air returns located on the floor.  In the summer hot air floats to the ceiling. This hot air is drawn into the hot air returns along with the ceiling. These vents should also be left open during the cooling season. However, you can close them during the wintertime. Similarly, the cold air returns can be closed during the summer time and must be open during the winter.

Vents in your Basement

If you do not use your basement, shut the vents off in the summer time to avoid cooling this area as well.  Be careful in the winter. Since there are lots of water pipes in this area of the home make sure they do not freeze in the winter time.

As with all cost savings suggestions, there is often a smart way to save money and another approach which could even cost you more. If you have any doubts leave the vents open, or get a professional opinion.

Readers are encouraged to leave their comments and suggestions as well to help everyone save money. Spam comments will be deleted.

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