Winter energy bills are no joke here in Ontario.
According to Natural Resources Canada, 61% of the energy you pay for each year goes to heat your home.
That is a lot of energy for powering just one appliance!
It gets worse, too. Another 19% goes just to provide hot water. A further 14% goes to run appliances that use that hot water, such as your washing machine and dishwasher.
What does all this add up to? A whopping 94% of your energy bill, that’s what.
With the average Ontario-area homeowner reporting annual energy bills in the neighbourhood of $2,358, that is $2,217 coming right out of your pocket each year like clockwork.
Would you like to pay less? (Of course you would – who wouldn’t?) Read on to find out what to do right now.
1. Lower Your Thermostat One Degree: Save 5%
According to Hydro One, 20°C (68°F) is the optimal money-saving winter thermostat setting to aim for.
For every degree you raise your thermostat above 20°C, you will pay 5% more on energy. So it follows that for every degree you lower your thermostat below 20°C, you will save 5% on energy.
Five percent doesn’t look like a lot at first. But considering winter is the longest season of the Canadian year and it can get very cold, every little bit helps.
Let’s calculate your potential savings using the average numbers we mentioned here earlier.
Sixty-one percent of $2,358 is $1,438. Five percent of $1,438 is $72.
Now, let’s say you start using your HVAC system’s programmable thermostat to lower the thermostat one degree for 12 hours per day.
You do this all winter (approximately six months). You save $72. Encouraged, next year you lower your thermostat two degrees. You save $144. The following winter you lower your thermostat three degrees. You save $216.
Or perhaps, keen to save, you lower your thermostat three degrees right away and trim the full $216 off your heating bill this winter.
2. Lower Your Hot Water Thermostat Six Degrees: Save 5%
Remember that 19% of your annual energy bill that goes straight to providing you and your family with hot water?
That works out to $448 per year just for hot water for your household.
The average hot water heater thermostat setting here in Ontario is around 55°C (130°F).
Hydro One tells us that you can trim 5% off the total cost of your annual hot water bill by dialling your hot water heater thermostat back by five degrees. That is $22 per year in savings.
But you are really keen to save more than $22.
So Canada Health tells us it is perfectly safe to set your hot water heater thermostat as low as 49°C (120°F) and this will still destroy harmful bacteria and microbes. It is also a safer setting to prevent scalding.
Now you have turned your hot water heater setting down by 10 degrees and are saving $44 annually.
Is there anything else you can do to save even more on your hot water bill? There sure is!
- Install low-flow or aerator-type faucets and fixtures (50% savings).
- Wash your laundry in cold water (50% savings).
- Shower rather than take baths (50% savings).
- Run hot water-use appliances after 7pm (50% savings).
- Identify and fix small water leaks (varies by household).
- Turn off the hot water tap while shaving, brushing teeth, etc. (5% savings).
3. Unplug What You Don’t Use: 10% Savings
Winter, with its much colder temperatures and shorter days, is a season when most of us stay indoors more than usual.
Given that the average Canadian adult reports spending up to 90% of the average day indoors anyway, this adds up to a lot of indoor time!
When we are indoors, we are probably using energy. Whether that energy is going for lights, heat, running our appliances, using electronics or something else, unless we are sleeping we are probably involved in consuming energy.
Is there anything you can do to trim energy costs without having to sit around in a dark, cold house twiddling your thumbs while counting up the pennies saved?
Actually there is. You can unplug what you are not using.
HGTV-Canada tells us that you can trim up to 10% off the cost of your annual energy bill by simply unplugging things you are not using.
Now, you don’t want to do this with your sump pump, your hot water heater or your furnace.
But you can certainly do it safely with other major appliances, including your dishwasher, clothes washer/dryer, electronics, computers, lights and similar other non-essential appliances.
Once again, we will take our benchmark average annual energy bill from before of $2,358 as an example. Natural Resources Canada tells us that 14% of annual energy use goes to appliances and 4% goes to lighting, which is 18%, or $424.
Shave 10% off of this cost and you’ve saved $43.
Adding It All Up: How Much Did You Save?
- Lower your thermostat by three degrees: $216
- Reduce your hot water thermostat and usage: $44+
- Unplug what you don’t use: $43
You just put $303 back in your pocket. What would you like to do with your saved cash?
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