In 2019, the average Canadian household spent $2,535 on energy costs. This works out to about $210 per month, which can be a pricey expense when taking into account mortgages, rent, school tuition, transportation charges, childcare fees, and all the other costs of living.
The good news is that there are many ways for you to save money on your utility bills, be it through organic energy conservation, applying to public relief programs, investing in energy-efficient home upgrades, or making some simple lifestyle changes.
Let’s start at home — how can I save money on my utility bill?
To shrink that utility bill, you should start by thinking about ways to reduce your energy use at home. It’s especially important to be mindful of your electricity use given the recent lockdown measures enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The more we stay at home, the more energy we use. Here are some quick tips to help reduce your electricity use:
1. Turn off the lights
Get into the habit of turning off the lights when exiting a room. Even better, leave your lights off if there’s enough sunlight! Additionally, consider using smaller lights, like a lamp or counter lights, instead of ceiling lights.
2. Avoid phantom power
Phantom power, also known as “standby power,” happens when your electronics are turned off, but still plugged in. Turning off the TV after use is great, but turning it off and unplugging it is even better. Using a power bar makes it even easier to avoid phantom power, as you can remove one plug-in to power off multiple devices.
3. Consider ditching your dryer — for both clothing and hair
Did you know that each dryer use can translate to 24-72 cents on your energy bill? You can save up to 20% of your dryer’s energy use with an ENERGY STAR-certified dryer, or save 100% of it by hanging your clothes to dry instead!
Hair dryers also eat up precious electricity, especially if you pair it with the phantom power generated if you forget to unplug one. Luckily, the solution is simple — consider air drying or towel drying your hair instead.
4. Find alternatives to your oven
Ovens consume a lot of electricity. But don’t worry, we’re not telling you to forego cooking altogether. Instead, change up how you heat up your food. Skip the oven and choose your microwave, crock pot, or even toaster oven to save on energy costs.
5. Buy some rugs and textiles
Sure, hardwood floors look nice and crisp, but they certainly don’t feel too cozy on your feet. Adding an area rug can help warm up a room without expending extra energy.
6. Adjust your thermostat
Prior to leaving your home for the day, and especially before going out for an extended period of time, remember to turn down your thermostat. Want to do even more? Consider lowering your thermostat and cuddling up in a cozy sweater or with a fuzzy blanket while staying in as well.
7. Stop running all that water
Many households waste water through leaky faucets and long showers. Plus, it doesn’t help when you let water run while shaving, soaping dishes, or washing your hands. Remember to address those leaks and turn off those faucets.
8. Laptops are in, desktops are out.
Yes, laptops need to be plugged in to charge. But a fully charged battery powers laptops for an extended period of time, making them more efficient than desktop computers. If you’re working from home, opt for a laptop over a desktop.
9. Maintain your furnace.
Furnaces use up a lot of energy to heat up your home. Cleaning the filter and vents, as well as scheduling regular maintenance checks with a professional, can help ensure your furnace is heating your home as efficiently as possible.
All in all, there are many ways to use electricity more efficiently at home, and the list doesn’t stop here. There are plenty of financial incentives offered by various levels of governments and other organizations to help you stick to your energy-efficient lifestyles.
Government Rebates, Programs, and Incentives
Government agencies like Hydro One and Save On Energy, along with various utility companies, offer financial incentives and rebates to encourage consumers to be more energy efficient. Check out the Ontario government website, for example. They showcase multiple programs that can help you reduce your utility bills, dependent on location, income, and age. Look into your provincial, municipal, or the federal government’s energy department webpages to find out more about these programs.
Curate an ENERGY STAR-studded home
Partnered with the Federal government of Canada, ENERGY STAR shares the most energy-efficient products with Canadians. If you see an ENERGY STAR symbol on any television, oven, washing machine, or any other home appliance, you can rest assured that the product is of superb energy efficiency. Want to do your own digging? Natural Resources Canada has a product search function to help you find the most energy-efficient option when shopping for home appliances and products.
There are also ENERGY STAR rebates and financial incentives to encourage consumers to buy and install energy-efficient products. These appliances may require an investment up front, but they end up saving you money on your utility bills. Not to mention the ecological benefit of reducing your energy use!
What’s next in energy efficiency?
While government incentives and home tips for energy conservation can help you save on your utility bill, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot of innovation happening in the energy sector, like new ways to generate power. And fortunately, people are willing to adopt these changes.
For example, Ontario currently ranks #6 in Canada for residential solar panel installation, an expensive but extremely efficient power generator that helps residents save on their utility bills in the long run. Companies like Bullfrog Power provide only renewable energy to households and businesses in Canada.
Rest assured, the energy industry is seeing great innovation, but for now, you can save a few dollars on your energy bill by reducing your electricity use at home.