My husband and I had a bit of a scare when we first moved into our home. At first, I thought we had just inherited an old, but perfectly functioning, washer and dryer set. But when it took me three cycles to get our sheets dry, I’d had enough. We went out and bought a pair of energy efficient washing machines the next day. When they arrived at our new house and started to install them, my husband couldn’t believe what he saw. The dryer duct was completely clotted and we were likely one more drying cycle away from an electrical fire. He took care of that messy job and we both breathed out a cautious sigh of relief. What else could be going on in our home?
While it turned out that it wasn’t the old dryer’s fault and was in fact the dryer duct, I’m still thrilled we got a new energy efficient washer and dryer. Not only are we saving money in the long run, but we wouldn’t have discovered a super dangerous fire hazard if it weren’t for replacing them. In the past few months of living in our new place, my husband and I have taken every possible chance to become more energy efficient. With winter being just around the corner, I thought it would be timely to talk about how you can improve energy efficiency in your home to save costs and to avoid potential hazards.
Replace your toilets, faucets, and shower heads with low flow ones.
Turn down the temperature on your water heater. No one needs scalding hot water when washing their hands. Pro tip alert! Did you know that you have a ‘vacation mode’ on your water heater? Switch to vacation mode when you head on vacation for Christmas break this year and you’ll save a ton of money. Just remember to turn it back on as soon as you get home 😉 I know there are water heaters you can control using smart technology so that would be worth looking into as well so you can turn your water heater back on before you get home.
Insulate your hot water pipe with foam wrap. Insulating any sort of exposed pipe in your home with a safe foam material will end up saving you a bit of money in the long run. Each section of pipe that’s exposed, allows for that much more heat to escape. If you insulate it, that heat is being contained which requires less energy to heat that water. The insulating foam wrap looks like a pool noodle and it’s a super simple and inexpensive adjustment you can make.
Behavioural changes. Making teeny adjustments in your everyday routine will make a huge long term difference. For example, make sure that you fill up your dishwasher and washing machine in it’s entirety before running it. Take shorter showers and be cautious of how much water you are using when washing the dishes in your sink. Rather than letting the faucet run the whole time, fill the sink with a few inches of soapy water, scrub as many dishes as you can in that water and then rinse them quickly in clean water.
Locate where your master water shut-off valve is. In the case of a pipe burst, turning this switch off will save you tons of water and will prevent further damage.
Winter in Canada is usually associated with high heating costs, but there are ways we can minimize them.
Replace your windows. Installing triple-pane, well insulated windows will keep your house so cozy, eliminate those winter drafts, and save you a ton of heating-related costs. Now I know this is a long-term and expensive fix. So if you’re not ready to make that commitment just yet, you can simply place a clear film overtop your windows. This is an instant and very inexpensive way to eliminate drafts and keep heat in.
Upgrade your furnace to an energy efficient one. This is something we’re currently looking into for our own home. Our furnace is a 1970s original and although it’s indestructible, it’s definitely not efficient. The new furnaces have a three settings instead of the conventional two: full blast heat or completely off. You can also control which floors get the most heat. So if you don’t frequent the basement, you can choose to heat all the other floors that you use more often rather that heating the entire home. For an easy and less expensive fix, you can simply set your thermostat to be on a timer. Set it to turn off when you’re out of the home during the day for work and for it to come back on when you’re home.
Make sure your weather seals are intact. Weather seals are those thin strips of vinyl that you find in your door trim or along your windows. These little guys make a huge difference when it comes to cutting down on heating costs and they’re very cheap and easy to install yourself.
Clean or replace your furnace air filters every 3 months. Furnace filters look like a window screen and accumulate dust and lint over time, especially in the months you’re heating your home. Take the time to change these out or clean them every few months. This will allow heat to push through and circulate more freely throughout your home.
Curtains and blinds. If you have a South facing window, leave your blinds open throughout the day to allow as much sunlight as you can inside. This will naturally heat your home at no cost and then close the blinds at night to keep the heat in. Alternatively, if your window doesn’t get much sunlight throughout the day, be sure to close your blinds and curtains to contain the heat in your home. Insulating blinds work really well so they might be worth looking into.
‘Tis the season of lights, lights and more lights! With the days getting shorter and Christmas lights coming out, here are some great ways to save on your electricity bill.
Install timers. Rather than leaving your Christmas lights on all day, install a timer that will have them turn on at sunset and turn off around 10 or 11pm. You can do the same with your bathroom fans or Christmas tree lights.
Behaviour modifications. Get into the habit of turning lights off when you leave a room and take advantage of dimmable lights.
Replace your old incandescent bulbs with energy efficient LEDs. For outdoor lights, consider using a motion detector. Without compromising security, using a motion sensor will greatly reduce your electricity bill.
Eliminate ghost power. Most appliances that you keep plugged in and are not running can still be drawing power and costing you money. Make sure you unplug appliances that don’t need to be left running while you are out of the house or on vacation. We have this handy little tool called an Energy Use Monitor that tells you exactly how much money you spend per year just by keeping an appliance or device plugged in. Cool right?
Use a laptop over a desktop whenever possible. Laptops are more than 90% more energy efficient that desktops!
Energy efficiency and safety
By knowing what’s behind your walls and getting a little more up close and personal with your home, you’ll be much less vulnerable to hazards that result in insurance claims. As homeowners, it’s up to us to be reliable, save in as many ways as we can, and to protect our home. But things still happen and that’s why having a safety net is so important. Esurance has your back when it comes to insuring your home. These guys are trailblazers when it comes to home and auto insurance and have flipped a boring industry into a modern one that you’ll actually enjoy working with! They use smart technology to make insurance way more convenient and more affordable for us.
So while you’re hard at work getting your house making your home energy efficient and safer for your family, Esurance is working behind the scenes to keep all that hard work safe. It’s kind of like backing up all your work on the computer 🙂
Many of the homes we live in aren’t brand new, leaving plenty of room to reduce energy consumption. Some solutions require large upfront costs, but some are very simple adjustments. Regardless of how big of a step you’re willing to take, the payoff is more than convincing. Remember that it’s a lot of little tweaks here and there that will make a huge difference in the end. You’ll see these results in your monthly bill and will be much less vulnerable to risks around your home.
Each province in Canada has their own energy efficiency programs and incentives. If you live in Alberta, there’s a fantastic energy-saving program called Energy Efficient Alberta. They will come into your home and replace any old inefficient products with new energy efficient ones. This includes light bulbs, thermostats, power bars, shower heads, faucet aerators, and night lights. They’ll even install them for you 🙂
Love, peace, and efficient insurance
*This post is sponsored by Esurance, an Allstate company.