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Sustainability Tips

There are many things you can do to conserve energy in your home.  This not only protects valuable resources and prevents damage to the environment, but can also save money on your energy bill!

Ontario Power Authority - SaveONenergy

This website has a series of newsletters covering different topics in energy conservation from preparing your home for the winter, involving kids in energy-saving activities, to computer use tips, and advice on ceiling fans.  Click here to browse the newsletters. Explore other sections of the website for more programs and advice. 

Ontario Ministry of Energy

The Ontario Ministry of Energy provides these three very important concepts to conserve energy in your home:

  1. Shift electricity use to off-peak periods. With smart meters and time-of-use pricing, you can save money by switching some of your energy use to mid- and off-peak hours when electricity prices are lower.
  2. Unplug electronic items not in use. Many electronic items — computers, TVs, cell phone chargers — continue to consume small amounts of electricity unless they are unplugged. Try plugging these items into a power bar with a switch, so you can easily turn them off when they are not in use.
  3. Choose energy-efficient products. Consider energy savings in your buying decision. ENERGY STAR® appliances and compact fluorescent light bulbs consume less electricity, so your costs will be reduced.

In particular, here are the Ministry's tips for saving energy on heating and cooling in your home:

Heating and cooling accounts for about 60 per cent of an average home’s energy costs.

Tips for the winter months

  • Install a programmable thermostat with a built-in timer. You can set it to lower the heat by a few degrees at night and when you are away.
  • Check for drafts and leaks. Caulking and weather-stripping are simple and inexpensive solutions that will prevent heat from escaping the home.
  • Clean the air filter on your furnace every month to improve efficiency.

Tips for the summer months

  • Avoid running your air conditioner from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays as much as possible. If you are home during this peak period, try cooling off with a fan first.
  • Cool your home to 25°C instead of the low 20s. Use a portable fan and/or ceiling fan in conjunction with your air conditioner to stay cool.
  • Use timers to operate swimming pool pumps, filters and heaters during off-peak periods. Keep the filter clean for greater efficiency.
  • Use a solar blanket to keep swimming pools warm overnight. Alternatively, solar pool heaters (approximately $3000 to $5000) can be a cost-effective purchase when you consider the costs of equipment, installation and fuel for a traditional heater.

Turn out the lights! Aside from this obvious energy-saving tip, the Ministry of Energy has more ideas that you might not have thought of! 

  • Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Contrary to popular belief, less energy is consumed when lights are turned on and off than if a light is left on all the time.
  • Replace the bulbs with low wattage bulbs for any light that must be on all night.
  • Consider using compact fluorescent light bulbs. They cost more than regular light bulbs, but they last longer and use 75 per cent less electricity.
  • Install a motion sensor for outside lighting that automatically turns the lights on and off as needed.
  • Concentrate bright light where you need it, rather than evenly lighting the entire room. Alternatively, dimmer switches are an inexpensive way to save energy (and a great way to set the mood).
  • Decorate your home with lighting in mind. Lighter colours reflect light, so use them in areas you want to be bright.

Here are some more tips from the Ministry of Energy regarding appliances:

Refrigerator:

  • Set the temperature no lower than you need to. Check manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Avoid overfilling the refrigerator as it blocks air circulation. Conversely, a full freezer will perform better than an empty one.
  • Check your refrigerator door’s seal by closing the door on a $5 bill. If it is held tightly in place, the seal is OK. If not, the door should be adjusted or the seal replaced.
  • Clean your refrigerator’s coils (at the back) and air intake grill (below the doors) every three months.
  • Fridge recycleKeep refrigerators and freezers out of direct sunlight, and allow at least five centimetres all around (or as recommended by the manufacturer) to allow heat to escape from the compressor and condensing coil.
  • Don’t let freezers build up more than six millimetres of frost. Defrost regularly to keep freezers working their best.
  • Don’t keep that old, inefficient refrigerator running in the basement for occasional refreshments. It could cost you $150 or more per year in electricity.
  • Buying a new refrigerator? Consider energy savings in your buying decision. Look for the EnerGuide label when making your next refrigerator purchase. Also, look for ENERGY STAR® models. ENERGY STAR-qualified refrigerators exceed minimum federal energy efficiency standards for energy consumption by at least 10 per cent, which will save you more money in the long run.

Stove/Oven:

  • As a general rule for smaller cooking jobs, use smaller appliances. For example, instead of your range or cooktop, use the electric kettle, toaster oven or microwave.
  • Use an electric kettle to boil water instead of the stove, which is less efficient.
  • Don’t use a bigger pot than you need, and match the pot to the right size element for greatest efficiency.
  • Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator (unless the label says otherwise).
  • If you put aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven to catch drippings, make sure the foil does not block any of the oven’s circulation holes.

Dishwasher:

  • Shift dishwasher use to off-peak periods where possible.
  • Always operate with full loads, and use the air-dry setting.
  • Clean drains and filters regularly to ensure efficient operation.
  • Buying a new dishwasher? Consider energy savings in your buying decision. Look for the EnerGuide label when making your next dishwasher purchase. Also, look for ENERGY STAR® models, which are at least 25 per cent more efficient than the least efficient dishwasher.

Clothes Washer/Dryer:

  • Adjust the water level setting to match the size of the load. Run full loads when possible, but do not overload the machine.
  • Wash your clothes in cold or warm water. Hot water can shrink and fade your clothes and approximately 85-90 per cent of the energy used by washing machines is for heating the water.
  • Consider using a clothesline or drying rack to avoid the cost of a dryer altogether.
  • Ensure clothes are effectively wrung before putting them into the dryer.
  • Separate loads into heavy, medium and lightweight items as lighter loads will take less drying time than a mixture of items.
  • Dry loads consecutively to use otherwise wasted heat from the dryer.
  • Clean the lint trap after every load for greater efficiency.
  • Buying a new washer? Consider energy savings in your buying decision. Look for the EnerGuide label when making your next washer purchase. Also, invest a little more for an ENERGY STAR® model, which uses 35-50 per cent less water and 50 per cent less energy than the average washer.
  • Front-loading washers cost a little more than conventional washing machines, but they use roughly half the water per load. They are also more effective at squeezing the water out of laundry, which lowers the electricity costs for drying it. Laundry washed in front-loading washers lasts longer because it is gently tumbled rather than twisted around an agitator.

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