Money & Career

Save $500 this weekend

A few quick fixes can cut your home utility costs by a third

Did you know that according to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian household pays around $1,700 each year in heating and electrical bills? What a waste – especially when a weekend’s worth of work around the house can put as much as a third of those costs back in your pocket. So, get out your caulking gun and lower your thermostat – it’s time to slash your utility bills by $500 or more. Here’s how:

Change your light bulbs and use dimmers: Total bill savings three per cent

Replace your existing bulbs with compact fluorescent lighting and put the lights you use most often on dimmers. Put your outdoor lighting on motion sensors.

Put your electronics on surge-protected power bars: Total bill savings four per cent

Your TVs, stereos, computers – even your treadmill – all draw power from your electrical service as long as they’re plugged in. Plugging them into power bars allows you to easily cut off the power supply when not in use.

Downsize your cooling capacity: Total bill savings one per cent or more

That 1960s fridge and freezer in the basement with the hockey decals may be convenient for keeping cold beer close to the wide screen, but it can cost a couple of rink side seats to keep it running.

Install a programmable thermostat: Total bill savings one per cent for every 1C (2F) lowered

Have your programmable thermostat installed by a professional. Then turn it down! The rule of thumb is for every degree you lower your thermostat, you save one per cent in total energy costs. If you program your thermostat to reduce heating during the night, add another one per cent to your total energy saving. Try setting your thermostat at 70F (21C) during the day and 64F (18C) at night.

Lower your hot-water consumption: Total bill savings 10 per cent

Turn down the thermostat on your hot water tank to 130F (55C) for gas water heaters or 140F (60C) for electric water heaters. Install low-flow showerheads available at any hardware store and insulate your hot water pipes with foam pipe wrap. Plus, commit to washing your clothes in cold water, take showers instead of baths and only use your dishwasher when it’s full.

Caulk the top half of your house: Total bill savings five per cent

Heat rises and escapes out the top of your home unless you stop it. Buy some latex caulking and a caulking gun. Caulk the baseboard (top and bottom), window trim, attic access, behind plugs and switches and around the ceiling lights. Then crawl up into your attic and fill in any holes in your insulation.

String up a laundry line: Total bill savings five per cent or more

This could reduce your dryer use by 75 per cent or more, resulting in a major reduction in your energy costs.