Energy Efficiency

Posted on Friday 01 May 2015


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We discussed a few long-term energy saving options in our guide to winter on a budget. However, what things can you do to save energy year-round? Luckily, there are many steps you can take beyond just fitting curtains and new insulation.

In this article, we’ll look at ways to be more energy efficient in the home, saving you potentially hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year. Having saved up money can be a great contribution to your retirement fund or your stock portfolio. Just make sure you keep the proper documentation along with any credit card purchases. Let's get to it shall we.

Light up with new bulbs

As of 2015, ordinary 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs can no longer be manufactured in or imported into Canada. It's related to an extension of the ban on 75- and 100-watt bulbs that began at the start of 2014. That said, consumers can still get hold of rough service incandescent bulbs, and they remain available for more specialized uses: lamps, refrigerator door lights, and so on.

Retailers are also allowed to sell off their remaining stock, they just can’t bring in more. Existing stock is expected to last until around the end of March. Don’t rush off to stockpile bulbs just yet, though. Energy-saving compact fluorescent lamp bulbs cost more up front than the old incandescent bulbs, but they last a lot longer and can use up to three quarters less energy.

For a more extreme option, LED light bulbs have all the advantages of CFLs, but more so. They also cost even more. The sticker price for even a cheap LED light bulb is usually over $10. However, an LED bulb can last decades without replacement. They use even less energy than a CFL. Furthermore, their prices continue to fall as they are adopted more widely by consumers.

Green Appliances

For further savings on your hydro bill, look for the most efficient appliances. Promoted and administered by Natural Resources Canada, the ENERGY STAR certification is the mark of high-efficiency products in Canada. Products with the ENERGY STAR sticker are usually in the top 15% to 30% of their class for energy efficiency.

For an even better guarantee of energy efficiency, look for the ENERGY STAR Most Efficiency designation. Awarded to the most energy efficient products in each class of the current year. You can always find the complete lists of ENERGY STAR certified products on the Natural Resources Canada website.

So bottom line, ENERGY STAR certified products are pretty decent. They also publish EnerGuide information for products. You can find an EnerGuide label on many new appliances. It's is mandatory for clothes washers and dryers; dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers (including combined models); wine chillers; electric ranges, cooktops and ovens; and room air conditioners.

It is voluntary for things like furnaces and water heaters, but many manufacturers like to advertise their products’ energy efficiency. Buying the absolute most efficient product might always not save you money, but the energy cost is a huge part of the lifetime cost of a new appliance. When put in lifetime terms, you can really start to see the savings. Natural Resources Canada has a good calculator for that as well.

Turn It Off

Many modern electronics have a standby mode. Even when they are turned off, they continue to draw electricity so long as they are plugged in to power quick start functions, remote signal receivers, battery chargers and so on.

Standby modes are a lot more efficient than just leaving the gadget switched on, but you’re still paying for electricity. In fact, Natural Resources Canada estimates that 5 to 10 percent of electricity use in Canadian homes comes from standby modes.