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Save electricity, money and the planet in 9 effortless tips

Loosing money on your electricity bills? Reduce your bill today with our 9 simple tips to save electricity and use your money on more fun stuff, all while being more eco friendly.

Whether it be drying your laundry a new way or making the switch to motion-sensor lights, there’s a tip here that’s perfect for you.

1. Reduce your “water footprint” to save electricity

There are a variety of small steps you can take to lessen your carbon footprint while simultaneously conserving our fresh water. In the process, you can even shave some money off of your yearly electricity bill! One perfect example of how you can get started is by taking shorter showers and even looking into purchasing a low-flow showerhead. There are websites, such as this one, that can help you determine how much money you are currently spending on water and energy. Let’s work through an example together. If we have an electric water heater and take a warm 10 minute shower each day for a year with a showerhead that uses 2.5 gallons per minute (today’s average) at a cost of $0.12 per kWh, we could expect that electricity cost to be around $500 for a year.

Now, you aren’t going to believe this! For as little as $8 you can purchase a highly reviewed low-flow showerhead, which would reduce the amount of water your showers used per minute to 1.25 gallons. The truly shocking thing is that installing this type of shower-head can save you around $250 on your electricity bill! Considering it’s only an $8 purchase, you would definitely be getting more than your money’s worth. To top it off, you would also be saving somewhere in the range of 5,000 gallons of water and 2,500 pounds of CO2 emissions each year! You might be thinking to yourself, the savings sound great and all, but I don’t know how to install something like that. Have no fear, youtube is here. There are a plethora of tutorials and helpful videos at your disposal that can walk you through the process, and though it might sound difficult, it’s actually very simple! Here is a short video (less than 2 minutes long!) that can help you if you are feeling a bit nervous. Don’t let fear stop you from saving a substantial amount of money and helping reduce your environmental impact! Read More

2. Switch to a “smart thermostat”

You may or may not know this, but according to the US Department of Energy heating and cooling alone account for nearly half of a home’s energy costs! Luckily, there is a simple step you can take to help reduce this cost as well as your home’s CO2 emissions.

The most obvious way is to lower your desired temperature during the winter and leave it a bit higher during the summer - putting less strain on your heating and cooling system. However, as you and I both know, it is very easy to forget to do this on a regular basis. We lead busy lives, and it’s likely that thinking about altering the temperature on the thermostat for future energy savings is not the first thing on our minds. Wouldn’t it be great if our thermostat could pay attention to this for us? Though it might sound outside the realm of possibility, there are thermostats (“smart” thermostats) that can do this! Smart thermostats offer a variety of benefits. Even the most basic models are highly efficient, and more expensive models offer features such as the ability to be programmed from your phone and motion sensors that can learn your schedule and adjust accordingly when no one is home.

Making the switch from a manual thermostat to a smart one can save you upwards of $180 a year in energy costs and would reduce your home’s CO2 output by about 1800 lbs! Considering the fact that you can buy a good one for around $170, that means you would already be saving money during the first year after installation. There are a plethora of models available in a wide range of prices- all with different features. It is wise to read Amazon reviews and do some Internet searching before settling on what model is best for your home. Don’t forget to make sure that the model you have chosen works with your heating and cooling system! And, if installing the thermostat is a bit intimidating, you might want to consider hiring a contractor. Here is one video that can help you install some of the simpler models. Making the switch might seem a bit scary at first, but it can certainly save electricity and a lot of money for you in the long run! Read More

3. Hang-drying laundry

Hang drying your laundry is another great way to save electricity and money all while lessening your impact on the environment; it also has the added benefit of prolonging your clothes’ lifetimes and doesn’t require a huge investment!

A dryer usually takes about 3.3 kilowatts per hour of energy; this equates to about 11 cents per kilowatt of energy. On average, a small load of laundry takes 45 minutes to dry, and knowing the earlier statistic, we can then assume that this costs somewhere around 0.36$- which doesn’t even include the cost of fresheners, softener sheets, and other laundry items. This means that cutting out using the dryer once a day for an entire year would save you at least $130! It is also important to note that the amount of CO2 released burning the coal needed to run your dryer for a single year would be about 1,300 pounds!

Luckily, many of us can turn toward an option like hang drying. There are a plethora of benefits associated with making the switch to this method, such as a smaller electrical bill and fresher, comfier clothing. There are estimates that clothes drying accounts for 6% of domestic energy use, and as we’ve already demonstrated, making the switch to hang drying will have a profound affect on your savings and the environment. Making this switch can also help you avoid the negative side effects of shrinking clothes, bacteria, and stiffness by allowing the sun to cleanse and dry them. Your clothes will be cleaner, smell better, feel softer, and last longer!

You don’t even need many tools to get started on the path to hang-drying your laundry. Essentially, all you need is a place to hang them from and maybe some clothespins! Depending on the amount of space you have, you can use either a clothesline (with clothespins) or drying rack. If you’re short on space, considering investing in a good drying rack; you can find highly reviewed options for less than $30! There are also many things you can do to make hang drying your clothing simpler. For instance, giving your clothes a good shake before hanging them out to dry will prevent wrinkles and reduce the time needed to dry. It is also a good idea to hang T-shirts on a hanger to avoid having to iron them later. In the rare instance that you need something cleaned too quickly for hang-drying, make sure to use the spin feature on your washer before putting it in the dryer, as this will absorb water from the clothes and save electricity used by the drying machine. Read More

4. Use motion-sensor light switches

Many people think that leaving lights on if you’re not going to be gone for a long time is cost-effective and reduces your carbon footprint. Though there is some truth to this, the reality is that people often forget they’ve left the lights on and end up losing money as well as making a larger environmental dent; any time you forget to turn off the lights after a period of over 24 minutes, you’re on the losing side. The US Department of Energy actually recommends switching lights off if you will be gone for longer than 15 minutes but leaving them on if it will be less. Though this advice is sound, it becomes useless if you forget to turn the lights off. However, if you have a motion sensor lightbulb, you can simply program it to turn off if there is no activity detected after a time frame of 15 minutes!

Motion sensor lightbulbs offer many benefits. For example, they are simple to install, come in a wide range of costs, and can be set to turn off after however many minutes you’d like. They can save electricity by 35-45% and save your household a substantial amount of money. On top of these benefits, they can help you lessen your carbon footprint and do your part to protect our environment.

There are online calculators that you can use to find out how much money using your particular lights costs. By looking at the watt rating of the bulb you can tell how much energy it consumes per hour. You can then multiply this by the amount of money you are charged by your electricity company.

Consider this: if a room has 4 60 watt lightbulbs that are on for about 8 hours a day at a cost of $0.12/kWh, the cost would be about $21.03. However, if this room installed motion sensor lightbulbs, electricity usage would be reduced by an average of 35-45%, and the new cost to keep the room lit would be between $11.56 and $13.67. The average home has around 40 lightbulbs, which means you could easily save around $70 per year! Imagine how much of an impact this would have if implemented throughout your entire home!

This change would net you a reduced CO2 output of around 700 lbs per year, which definitely makes a difference. Though you have to spend money to start, there’s no need to worry! Using motion sensor light switches actually let's you save electricity and money over time, all while lessening your carbon footprint! Read More

5. Go green in the kitchen with your microwave

There are also some simple steps you can take while cooking to help reduce your carbon footprint. Firstly, keep in mind the fact that using an oven requires a substantial amount of energy and results in high CO2 emissions; for instance, a meal that requires 1 hour to cook in an electric oven would expend 2.7lbs of CO2. Using a slow cooker is often a more environmentally friendly alternative, as they expend only about 0.9lbs of CO2 over the course of seven hours. When cooking in the oven, it is also important to try and make multiple things at once; that way you will be utilizing the CO2 it releases to the best of your ability! The most environmentally friendly meals however, are those that can be eaten cold. For example, salads and chilled soups can be put together with minimal CO2 emissions, as they do not need to be heated or cooked.

Using a microwave oven is also a great way to save electricity and money. Take this example. If you wanted to cook a casserole and were considering whether or not to do so using an electric oven, gas oven, or microwave, it would be useful to know the cost. On average, both an electric and gas stove would take an hour to cook the meal. However, if your provider charged $0.12 per kWh and $0.60 a therm, the electric oven would cost about $0.24 and the gas one would cost about $0.07 (keep in mind these costs could vary depending on your energy provider and the dish being cooked). Using a microwave oven would take around 15 minutes and cost around $0.04.

Of all these options, it’s clear which is the most cost and energy effective. If you were using a microwave each day to cook a meal that took an hour long on the oven, you would save anywhere between $11 and $30 each year. This might not sound like a lot, but imagine how quickly it would add up over the period of a couple years. This would equate to a CO2 savings of anywhere between 110lbs to 305lbs of CO2! Even if you don’t know where to begin when it comes to cooking using a microwave, there are a plethora of websites available that can help you get started. Take this one for instance! It has a list of almost 40 things that can get you started on this path. Read More

6. Consider the benefits of solar power and/or green energy providers

We often hear of the benefits of solar and other renewable energy sources, but it is easy to become overwhelmed by the costs associated with them. Luckily, there is another alternative that requires less of an up-front investment and boasts a more immediate return.

Green energy providers, like Epcor and Bullfrog, offer a variety of options for homeowners seeking to reduce their carbon footprint by utilizing hydroelectric and wind power- without having to deal with the pain of installing a windmill directly in your front yard! If you sign up, they ensure that every kWh of electricity your home draws through the grid is matched with an equivalent input of electricity created from renewable sources- such as hydroelectric and wind power. The energy that you use through this method is called “greened” energy. Depending on the percentage you decide to have “greened” you can save up to 18.4 tonnes of CO2 annually! Even if you decide on a small percentage, like 15%, you can reduce your carbon footprint by over 2.3 tonnes.

However, deciding to green your energy usage can have an impact on your finances as well. Bullfrog charges a service fee of 2.5 cents per kWh while Epcor’s requires 95 cents a day. This means that if you are choosing to have almost all of your energy greened, you could be paying up to an added $350 a year for the sake of reducing your Carbon footprint. These companies do realize that this can put people off of using their services though, which is why they have also begun to offer smaller deals. Now you choose to have as little as 15% of your energy intake greened; you would still be lessening your emissions, but you would avoid paying extremely large sums of money as well. If you are interested in talking over what kind of an impact switching to green energy would have for your particular household, it’s best to contact one of the energy providers first.

Solar power, as mentioned before, is also a prominent option for renewable energy and has been increasingly implemented at both the commercial and domestic level. If you choose to purchase solar panels for your home, it is likely that it would take around 10 years for them to pay off their costs, but energy used from that point onward would essentially be “free”! However, depending on where you live and your budget, it might be too expensive for your household to initially invest in. There is a useful tool called Project Sunroof that will predict how much money your household can save by investing in solar as well as what type of solar panels would serve you best- based off of how much sun you get and other households nearby that might have already invested in solar. Read More

7. Save electricity at work

Whether you are a business owner or employee, think of ways you can reduce your company’s total carbon emissions. There are many benefits associated with this, including increased employee morale, financial savings, and enhanced brand. Right now, business travel and commuting alone account for about 20% of emissions in Canada. To make matters worse, over two thirds of Canada’s waste comes from commercial and industrial sources!

However, there are many simple steps your business could take to go green. It is great to start out by identifying how much Carbon your company consumes. If hiring an expert is too expensive, you can rely on free applications, like Office Footprint Calculator, to find out. This can help you identify the areas your company most needs to improve in.

From there, take small steps toward a greener workplace. A perfect example would be replacing CFL lightbulbs with LED ones. Depending on the amount and type of lightbulbs your company uses, savings will vary. There are some fantastic resources you can use to find out how much money your business would save by switching to LED lights based off of lights currently in use. A good example is this LED Savings Calculator. Though it might sound like a costly endeavor at first, in actuality, choosing to do so will save electricity and money for the company in the long run! There is also the added benefit of knowing that an energy saving LED bulb has reduced carbon emissions of about 13kg per hour when lit. Even a small company, with only 50 60 watt lightbulbs, would save around $300 and 3,000 lbs of CO2 a year if LED lights were installed!

You can also make efforts to remind fellow employees to turn off their computers when not in use. Putting sticky note reminders on computer monitors or in visible work spaces might help employees get in the habit of turning their computers off. Leaving it on all day every day for 365 days would cost over $200. Cutting this in half by turning it off when not at work would result in a savings of about $100 per year! This would also result in CO2 savings of about 1,000lbs. If everyone remembered to do this, a significant amount of energy and thus, money, could be saved! Here is another source that can offer some advice about how to reduce your work place’s CO2 emissions. Read More

8. Make greener choices during the winter months

There are quite a few habits we can let ourselves get into during the winter time that are not the best for our environment. It is wise to keep the temperature at a constant 22-23°C and lower it by about 5-10°C at night and when the house is unoccupied. This simple change can reduce the amount of natural gas you are relying on by 6.5% and lower your electricity consumption by 0.8%. Even if the house is still a bit colder than you would like, you can always layer up! Resisting the urge to crank up the heat will reduce your carbon footprint and, depending on your average energy usage, you could predict to see as much as a 6.5% decrease on the amount of money you spend on natural gas for the year.

On another note, it is important to know that the winter cold does not make composting impossible! Though many of us might be in the habit of throwing away uneaten food or other sources of organic material, it is best when we don’t. Doing so causes the landfill to reach maximum capacity much more quickly and releases the dangerous greenhouse gas, Methane, into our atmosphere. In 2007, Canadians wasted about 183kg of solid food per person, which resulted in 680kg of greenhouse gas emissions per person. If you normally compost, don’t allow the winter weather to get in your way, and if you don’t already compost, consider investing in a bin! You could place it near your home in order to avoid having to walk through the harsh weather. There are even a variety of articles, such as this one, that can walk you through the process of creating your own composter from either materials that you might have lying about or things you can buy from your local store for cheap. Read More

9. Try hand-washing your clothing

Many might have the illusion that hand-washing clothes is difficult and costly, but thanks to new advances, this is not the case! Statistics show that in North America alone, laundering is the source of an estimated 10.7 millions tons of CO2 emissions. Though energy efficient technology can help reduce this number, hand-washing and air-drying clothing is still the number one alternative to save electricity and money.

On average, someone that decides to hand-wash and air-dry his clothes for a year reduces his energy consumption by 149kWh, water usage by 7840 gallons, and CO2 emissions by 1,500lbs. This will obviously save you some money each year as well. The average cost per kWh is around $0.12, so cutting out 150 kWh would result in savings of about $20 per year; you could also cut out some cost for detergents and dryer sheets (if you decided to air-dry as well). There are also a number of hand-washing systems available in a wide range of prices. You can choose a model based off of the size of your family and how often you need to put clothes in the wash. 

Even if you don’t want to buy a pre-made handwashing tool, there are a variety of articles online that can walk you through creating your own tool to hand-wash clothes. A popular example (that doesn’t require much money) is a 5 gallon bucket with a lid and modified toilet plunger. Buying these two items could be as cheap as $35. Websites like this one can offer explanations about all of the tools you might want to invest in as well as how to make the most use of them. You can also look to youtube videos like this one for tips and tricks; this particular video can show you how to hand-wash clothing in a sink.

Clearly, you really don’t have to sink a lot of money into this to get started, and in a couple of years, you would be making your money back! However, there are also more expensive options available that provide a wider range of features. For example, Wonderwash is a $45 investment that can wash up to 5 pounds of clothing with a wash cycle of 10 seconds to 2 minutes. Read More

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