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How to Pay Less for Heating Next Year

piggy bank save on heating costs

If you had to guesstimate, how much of your annual energy bill would you say goes to heat your home or workplace?

If you said 63 percent (home) and 56 percent (workplace), you have probably already read the latest report by National Resources Canada (NRC) on nationwide energy use.

According to the NRC, your annual home energy use is likely to look like this:

  • 63 percent for space heating

  • 19 percent for water heating

  • 12 percent for appliance use

  • 4 percent for lighting

  • 1 percent for space cooling

It is easy to look at these statistics and see where most of your energy funds are going!

It also doesn’t take much effort to start thinking of how much you could save if only you could spend less on having to heat your space.

In this article, learn what to do now to lower your heating bill for next year.

Learn How to Read Energy Labels

Thanks to Energy Star’s labelling program, you now have the option to exercise a great deal more control over what you spend on energy each year.

Whether you are buying a light bulb or a dishwasher, you can now learn all of the following just from reading the product label:

  • Whether the item (appliance, product) is Energy Star-certified or not

  • How much energy the item will require annually to run

  • How the item compares against similar items in its class

  • How many items are being compared

Certain products also come with Canada’s distinctive EnerGuide label, which gives you a great deal of valuable information to use to compare products and make the most efficient choice.

EnerGuide labelling is mandatory for these appliances:

  • Washers and dryers

  • Dishwashers

  • Fridges and freezers

  • Room A/C units

  • Stoves, cooktops, and ranges

EnerGuide labelling is optional for these appliances:

  • Central HVACs and furnaces

  • Air source heat pumps

  • Water heaters

  • Gas fireplaces

Compare and Calculate Your Energy Source Costs

For some appliances in particular, you have a choice about which type of fuel energy you use.

Here are some examples of fuel options for different appliances:

  • Boiler: electric, oil, or gas

  • Furnace: electric, propane, oil, or gas

  • Heat pump: air source, water-loop, or geothermal

  • Fireplace: wood, gas, or electric

  • Stove: wood, electric, gas, propane, or oil

Natural Resources Canada has developed a free online energy calculator to help you compare and contrast how much you can save based on the type of new system you buy.

For example, you can compare your current system against a new system that is more efficient or uses a different type of fuel energy, or you can compare various new systems to see which one will save you the most.

To use the calculator, you will need to know the following:

  • How much your fuel energy options currently cost (fuel cost per unit)

  • How efficient your current system is (0 to 100 percent)

  • What you currently spend annually on heating

  • Price quotes for new systems

  • Value of rebates and/or incentives available

By using this calculator, you can make an informed choice about which fuel energy to use (based on availability in your local area) and how quickly you can recoup your investment into a new system.

Lower Your Energy Costs with Timely Maintenance

Even if the time is not yet right to upgrade to an Energy Star-certified or EnerGuide-rated heating system right now, there is still much you can do to maximize the efficiency in your current unit.

NRC makes the following recommendations to achieve maximum energy efficiency on any heating system:

  • Change the air filters at least monthly.

  • Upgrade to HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

  • Have your heating system inspected and serviced at least once annually.

  • Be sure to keep the area around and above the heater clean and free of all debris.

  • Install a protective overhang for outdoor units to keep snow and debris from damaging the unit.

  • Verify that your heating system is sized properly for your space (an undersized or oversized unit will pull more energy for the same heat output).

  • Verify that all ducts and registers are clean and clear of dust and debris.

  • Check and clean the outside exhaust vents as needed and make sure they are clear of blockages.

  • Use your programmable thermostat to moderate energy use and expense when the home is empty or at night when everyone is asleep.

Essential Elements of a Heating Inspection and Service Call

Based on the average Canadian’s annual heating bill, the heater is by far the most expensive piece of equipment in your home.

By making sure it is serviced at least annually (preferably in late summer or early fall before the cold season arrives in earnest), you will not only ensure your existing unit performs to its peak efficiency, but you can also head off major repairs before they turn into mid-winter heating outages.

Just scheduling your annual inspection and service call can save you up to 22 percent on your annual heating bill.

During a heating inspection and service call, your Shipton’s technician will do all of the following:

  • Perform a visual inspection of the exterior and interior.

  • Clean the exterior and interior of the unit.

  • Examine all parts for signs of wear and tear, making repairs or replacements as needed.

  • Do a general tune-up and lubrication as needed.

  • Check all wiring and connections for safety and efficiency.

  • Do a test run to verify system performance and thermostat accuracy.

  • Make recommendations for increased energy efficiency.

  • Make recommendations for preventative maintenance as needed (to prevent major repairs later).

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