5 ways to save on home energy costs this winter

My family moved into its first home just over a year ago. The previous owners weren’t concerned at all about energy conservation, judging by the excessive use of track lighting. We also discovered a lot of extra “air conditioning” around windows, doors and the attic. Sadly, I didn’t have much time to deal with the air leaks before winter arrived as we were pre-occupied with moving in before our twin boys arrived in November. Needless to say, there was no time after their arrival for anything but survival.

A lot has changed in the past year to cut down on our energy costs. These steps were easy to do, and didn’t cost much:

  1. All bulbs inside and outside the house replaced with compact fluorescent lights (CFL). Replacing five standard incandescent light bulbs with CFLs will typically save around $30 every year here in Ontario.
  2. Hot and cold water pipes are wrapped with insulation.
  3. All doors and windows are sealed with caulking and weather stripping. There were some gaping holes behind window and door frames and underneath one door I could fit a screwdriver through the worn out rubber that was supposed to be sealing the gap. All baseboards on main and top floor have been caulked also.
  4. Electrical outlets on the inside and outside of exterior walls have insulation gaskets sealed with caulking to restrict air flow. Basically, any where there is a hole in the wall, air can get through!
  5. Installed programmable thermostats for the electric baseboard heaters. I don’t have time to run around to every room and change the settings for when we’re there and when we’re not. Now the heat comes on a little before we get up and goes down around bedtime.

Save $$$ on doing the work

I am taking advantage of rebate programs to save hundreds of dollars making these upgrades. In our area, there are rebates to buy CFLs, water pipe insulation, programmable thermostats and many other energy saving products. The everykilowattcounts.com site has more information on rebates for purchasing these items.

Another program every home owner in Canada should take advantage of is the ecoENERGY Retrofit grant. An approved inspector comes and does an energy evaluation of your home. In return you get a report telling you what you can do to reduce energy use, and what money you’ll get if you do it. There’s some good money to be had, considering the provincial government is matching the federal grants. For instance, I’ll get $300 back for improving air leakage, and another $150 if I exceed the standard by 20%. Nice! There are grants for improving insulation ratings of the attic, basement, even getting a more water efficient toilet, plus several others. I like knowing exactly what I need to do, how to do it, and then getting paid for doing work that will cut my energy costs. Even part of the evaluation cost is covered. Highly recommended.

This post was written as part of a global effort called Blog Action Day to raise awareness and get action on climate change.