Winter energy efficiency tips

JANUARY 23, 2018

Make sure that you are not wasting your money this winter by following these simple tips to increase your home's efficiency.

1. Heating tips

  • Put on a sweater and lower your thermostat by 2°C (4°F). Save as much as 4% on your heating bill.
  • Throw down a rug. You'll help insulate your floors, and cut down on the noise too.
  • Program your thermostat. A lower temperature at night and after you leave for work can save up to 10% on your heating bill. Don't reduce the temperature more than 3 - 4°C (6 - 8°F).
  • Check your furnace filter monthly and replace if dirty. A properly maintained furnace reduces energy consumption and could save up to 5% on your heating costs.
  • Install a furnace filter alarm on your furnace. It will make a whistling sound when it is time to change your filters.
  • Check supply and return air vents. Make sure they are not blocked by furniture, drapes and appliances.
  • Install a heat recovery ventilator. It improves indoor air quality by expelling stale indoor air and uses its heat to pre-heat the incoming fresh air.
  • Open the drapes or blinds on sunny days. South-facing windows provide free heat. Remember to close the drapes or blinds when the sun sets.
  • Add a humidifier to your heating system. The humidity may allow you to turn down your thermostat and still be comfortable.
  • Don’t crank up the heat. The house will warm up at the same rate, regardless of the temperature setting.
  • Don’t heat uninsulated areas. Typically, garages, crawl spaces, attics and storage sheds do not need to be heated.
  • Furnace maintenance saves energy. A tune-up can save 3 - 10% on your next heating bill. Clean or replace your furnace filters regularly for even more savings.

2. Fireplace tips

  • Split wood into pieces that are 10 - 15cm (4 - 6") in diameter. The wood will burn more cleanly with more surface area exposed to the flame.
  • Install a fireplace thermostat. It will help you control your room temperature.
    • Damper tips:
    • Close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.
    • Check that the seal on the flue damper is as snug as possible.
    • Consider installing tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warm air into the room.
    • Reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly and close the doors into the room.
    • Lower your thermostat setting to between 10° - 13°C (50°F - 55°F).
  • Don't use your fireplace when the outside temperature is below -7°C (19°F). The cold air coming into your house through the open flue wastes more heat than is gained.

3. Insulation tips

  • Check your attic insulation. If there is less than R-22 (7” of fibreglass or rock wool or 6” of cellulose) you could benefit by adding more.
  • Consider installing roof vents and inlets to improve ventilation.
  • Put clear plastic sheeting on your windows. It will add more insulation and reduce icy drafts with minimal effort and cost.
  • Check the insulation in your doors. Place your hand against it from the inside. If it feels cooler than the inside walls, install a door that's better insulated.
  • Install fully insulated doors on all entrances to garages, cold storage rooms and un-insulated basements.
  • Keep the garage door tightly closed as much as possible. It will keep warmer air against the garage-side wall of the house and act as a buffer against the colder air outside.

4. Lighting tips

  • Install automatic timers, motion sensors, dimmers and solar cells. They will help you conserve energy.
  • Switch from traditional bulbs to energy efficient lighting. Use up to 40% less energy both indoors and out.
  • Switch off the lights when you leave a room. It costs about $2.55 per year to light one room for one hour - easy money to save.