ENERGY SAVING TIPS FOR YOUR HOME
Conservation is about using the energy we consume more efficiently. This means using less energy to achieve the same outcome. There are many ways that this can be done. Replacing old inefficient equipment and appliances with more efficient ones is an obvious way to reduce energy consumption without reducing our quality of life. Changing our daily behavior, such as turning down the thermostat at night or when no one is at home is also a very cost-effective way of saving energy.
The benefits of saving energy are many, from direct cost savings and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality through lower emissions, to improving the comfort of our homes through better draft-proofing and insulation.
On this page you will find tips on how to reduce your natural gas consumption, and help the environment and save money in the process.
More than 50 per cent of the total amount of energy used in a home goes toward space heating. With a few low-cost upgrades and simple habits—like putting on a sweater instead of turning up the heat—you could notice real savings on your heating costs.
Install a programmable thermostat
Never worry about forgetting to turn the heat down after you leave the house. Programmable and smart thermostats do it for you. Plus, you can save up to 15 per cent* on your home’s heating costs by programming it to 17 °C for when you’re out and asleep, and no higher than 20 °C when you’re home and awake.
Note: If your primary heating system is a central ventilation system with an electric heat pump, keep the temperature set point consistent as thermostat setback can actually increase energy consumption. This is because if the temperature difference between the room and thermostat set point is more than 1 °C to 2 °C, the supplemental heat will be activated.
Change your heating system’s filter pronto!
You change your towels and sheets on a regular basis. Why not your furnace or heat pump filter? Like a dryer lint screen, a heating system filter clogs over time. Meaning it has to work longer which can equal extra energy costs. Check your filter on a monthly basis and replace it regularly, between one and six months, depending on if there are smokers and/or pets in the home. Use a tight-fitting pleated style filter for best results.
More ways to save
Don't crowd your heating system
Leave space around your furnace or boiler and ensure there are no combustible materials stored nearby. Items like bleach, cleaning products and aerosols should be kept well away. Don’t place beds, drapery and furniture too close to baseboard heaters. Keep outdoor heat pump units free of vegetation and clutter to allow air to pass freely.
Heat only the rooms you’re using
Close warm air supply registers, or lower the thermostat if you have baseboard heaters, in rooms you’re not using. Avoid heating non-insulated spaces such as a garage, crawl space, attic or storage shed.
On average, about one quarter of a home’s total energy use goes towards heating water. Being efficient with your water use—both hot and cold—will not only help you save on water heating costs, it will also help conserve a precious resource.
More ways to save on hot water
Fix leaky faucets
A hot water tap, dripping every second, wastes 720 litres of water per month, or about 14 hot baths. A drip can usually be repaired by replacing the washer.
Leave the dishes
Run your dishwasher only when it's full to avoid wasting hot water and electricity. If hand-washing, rinse dishes in cold water. Better yet, use a basin of cold water instead of running the tap.
Wash your clothes in cold water, except for your dirtiest whites.
WEATHERIZATIONWeatherization, draftproofing, weatherproofing and air sealing are terms used to describe upgrades made to exterior walls, roofs and gaps around windows and doors to help prevent heat loss. This can include caulking windows, weatherstripping doors and sealing gaps.
Weatherstrip and Caulk
For exterior doors and windows that open, apply weatherstripping where the two surfaces meet. To stop drafts under doors, install a door sweep on the bottom edge.
Apply interior window caulk where the window trim meets the wall. For inoperable windows, apply a bead of caulk where the sash meets the frame. You can also caulk the exterior side using exterior window and door caulking.
Add a layer to your windows
If your windows are single pane, an inexpensive window film kit will help keep the warmth inside your house. Simply tape the film to the interior frame and shrink it with a blow dryer. The blow dryer will make the seal as tight as a drum and the film will act like a second pane of glass.
Your home’s heating system may warm up your house, but insulation, along with weatherization, is what will help keep that warmth from escaping.
The optimal amount of insulation depends on where your home is located within BC. Homes in colder regions need more insulation than ones in the Lower Mainland to be more comfortable in winter. Insulation effectiveness is measured by R values (or RSI values for metric). The higher the value, the more resistance the insulation has to the movement of heat.
Insulation is available in batts, such as pink fibreglass or mineral wool, loose-fill, rigid board and can also be spray-applied. Size and location of area to be insulated and whether it’s finished or unfinished space will help determine the type of insulation you choose.
The attic is one of the most cost-effective places to insulate and won’t require any major demolition. Choose the insulation type right for your attic to achieve maximum insulation values, and be sure air sealing and ventilation are considered. Blown in fibreglass or cellulose is good for attics with an irregular shape or with inaccessible areas. If joists are spaced regularly, fibreglass or mineral wool batts are a good option.
Insulating the interior side of below grade basement or crawl space walls can help prevent heat loss in a home and increase air tightness. Before insulating, check for condensation and water infiltration. Note: fibreglass insulation is not recommended against concrete walls and don’t leave rigid foam boards exposed, typically a layer of drywall on top is recommended.
ENERGY SAVING PRODUCTS AND APPLIANCESIf you’re renovating, upgrading appliances or just replacing light bulbs, it makes sense to buy the most energy-efficient product. But how do you know what products are the most efficient? Here are some tips when reading product labels.
This label tells you the energy consumption and efficiency of household electrical appliances, heating and cooling equipment, new homes and vehicles. An EnerGuide rating doesn’t tell you if a particular item is energy efficient, rather it tells you how much energy it consumes.
In addition to the EnerGuide label, the most efficient products may also qualify as ENERGY STAR certified, an international symbol designating products that are the most efficient in their class. You’ll find the ENERGY STAR label on appliances, water heaters, furnaces, electronics and computers, windows and insulation and even on new homes.
The WaterSense label identifies water-efficient showerheads and faucet aerators, similar to how the ENERGY STAR label identifies the most efficient appliances. If you find a showerhead bearing the WaterSense label, it uses at least 20 per cent less water than a standard model.
There is no ENERGY STAR rating system for natural gas fireplaces, so in BC manufacturers came up with their own rating system called EnerChoice. A fireplace qualifying for this designation is considered among the top 25 percentile in energy efficiency.
Natural gas space heating
If your furnace is more than 15 years old, it’s only between 70 and 80 per cent efficient. ENERGY STAR natural gas furnaces are between 95 and 98 per cent efficient. That means for every dollar you spend on natural gas, between $0.95 and $0.98 is used as heat. ENERGY STAR boilers are a minimum of 90 per cent efficient. Learn more about natural gas heating systems.
When contemplating what type of water heater to purchase, consider your household needs and your budget. As well as a standard-efficiency storage tanks, there are tankless and hybrid models and even high-efficiency storage tanks:
ENERGY STAR non-condensing storage tank water heaters are between 0.67 and 0.70 EF. Currently, very few of these models are available for sale in BC, so ask your contractor to help you find a qualifying model.
Non-condensing tankless water heater. Sometimes called instantaneous or on-demand, tankless water heaters don’t store water. Instead, they heat it as you need it. As soon as you shut off your hot water faucet, the burner on the water heater shuts off as well. These systems may not be the best choice for large households as they can’t provide enough hot water for multiple, simultaneous tasks. But, if you want to free up valuable square footage and like the idea of being environmentally friendly, these systems might be a good match for you.
ENERGY STAR® non-condensing tankless water heaters have energy factors (EF) between 0.82 and 0.89. Since they are non-condensing they usually have a lower price point than higher efficiency condensing models. Also, because a drain is not required, installation costs may be lower.
Condensing tankless water heater. Sometimes called instantaneous or on-demand, tankless water heaters don’t store water. Instead, they heat it as you need it. As soon as you shut your hot water faucet off, the burner on the water heater shuts off as well. These systems may not be the best choice for large households as some models can’t provide enough hot water for multiple, simultaneous tasks. But, if you want to free up valuable square footage and like the idea of being more environmentally friendly, these systems might be a good match for you.
Condensing tankless models are the most efficient kind of tankless water heater with energy factors (EF) between 0.90 and 0.99. A drain is required for condensation.
Condensing hybrid water heater. Offering the ultimate in comfort, convenience and efficiency, this system combines the best features of tankless and storage tank models in one package. A hybrid system has a small, integrated storage tank so there is no waiting for hot water.
Condensing storage tank water heater. Originally designed for use in commercial applications, this system is being introduced into residential homes as it offers the benefits of a standard storage tank model, but at a much higher efficiency. It would be a good match for large households using hot water in multiple locations, simultaneously.
For the highest efficiency natural gas fireplaces, look for models with the EnerChoice logo. EnerChoice only applies to:
- gas zero clearance fireplaces 62.4 per cent efficient or higher
- freestanding gas fireplaces 66 per cent efficient or higher
- gas fireplace inserts 61 per cent efficient or higher
note: gas log sets do not qualify for EnerChoice.