Get creative with power-saving techniques and you can reap the rewards of a lower utilities bill and reduced carbon footprint.
Here are six ideas to save energy and make your property more energy efficient.
1. Unplug your electronics when not in use
Get into the habit of unplugging electronics when you’re not using them and cut back your expenditure of “phantom power.” This is the unintended energy sucked up by electronics when they’re off or in stand-by mode, which can add up to 10% of your annual electricity bill.
While most devices consume only low levels of electricity, others, like computers and TVs, can consume much more. Unplug your laptop overnight and you’ll also preserve the life of the battery. When you charge, power it up to 80% and let drain to about 40%. This could extend the battery’s life up to four times as much.
2. Move furniture away from vents
Take your air circulation into consideration when arranging your furniture. Placing couches, beds, or rugs directly in front or over top of heating vents prevents air from circulating properly. They can also absorb the heat you pay for.
If you’re limited for space, moving beds or couches even a half a foot away from the wall can make a difference.
3. Hang curtains
Heating and cooling costs account for the majority of most total household utilities bills. Hanging heavy curtains can be a simple and effective way to insulate your home from the cold in winter and the heat in summer.
Choose tightly woven cotton or natural fibers like muslin, and hang as close to the window as possible to lessen your reliance on a space heater.
4. Collect rainwater
Rain barrels can save you significant amounts of money in a season, and not just if you’re a gardener. Rain barrels (storage tanks that gather rainwater) collect gallons of free “soft water” that doesn’t contain chlorine, lime, or calcium, making it ideal for window and car washing.
A rain barrel can also collect water to store for periods of drought in summer, which can be used for multiple purposes from watering plants to topping off a swimming pool.
5. Ensure your fireplace is efficient
Wood-burning fireplaces can warm up a room, but they can also rob a house of heat by letting warmth escape through the chimney when not in use. An open fireplace is like keeping a window open in the winter.
In addition to keeping the damper shut when you’re not using it, consider installing glass doors and a well-fitted cover. If you don’t use your fireplace at all, buy an inflatable fireplace insert (a chimney balloon or fireplace plug) to seal it.
6. Take up gardening
Spring is just around the corner, and soon you won’t be worried about keeping your house warm, but rather keeping it cool. You don’t have to retrofit your house with a green roof to cool it naturally – planting a few climbing vines and shade trees in your yard can reduce the maximum temperatures of your home by shading walls from the sun.
In addition to the insulation effect, wall-hugging vines and trees can reduce the temperature at wall surface by up to 5 degrees. That means a lush landscape isn’t just a pretty face for your property, but a key part of creating your own micro-climate that will help you save on heating and cooling expenses.
Maximizing the value of your hydro bill goes hand in hand with taking pride in your property, and the benefits go beyond the home. Understanding what energy-conscious consumption means for you could save you money on home insurance policies, utilities bills, appliances, and more. It pays to go green.