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How to reduce your energy bill this winter

Canada is one of the biggest consumers of energy per capita in the world.

Winter is no excuse. Northern European countries like Denmark use 250% less electricity than we do.

According to Hydro-Québec, heating accounts for 54% of our hydro bills, followed by:

  • water heating (20%)
  • home appliances (18%)

Heating

Heating is a major energy expense. So it is important to compare the cost of different heating systems. Investing in a more environmentally friendly system may well save you money in the long run. To do the math, use the Natural Resources Canada Home Heating System Cost Calculator.

Renovation is not the only way, though, to reduce your heating costs. You can also:

  • arrange yearly maintenance for your heating system
  • before turning on the heat, clean under baseboards
  • flush the hot water heater

And:

  • Make sure that furniture or other objects are not obstructing the circulation of warm air around heaters.
  • Use a clockwise-turning ceiling fan to guide warm air to the lower reaches of a room.

A word about thermostats and temperature

During the day, room temperature should be between 18 °C and 21 °C.

In the case of an office or bathroom, aim for a slightly higher temperature, from 21 °C to 22 °C.

At night or when you are not at home, the temperature can be a good two to four degrees lower.

In the case of a prolonged absence, the temperature should be lower still, but high enough to prevent pipes from freezing, so between 12 °C and 15 °C.

Airtightness and insulation


Air infiltration is the main reason of heating overconsumption.

To check for drafts, walk around your home with a feather or candle. If it shakes or flickers, you may have air infiltrations. Check around walls, floors, windows, doors, light fixtures and plugs.

Additional resources:

For small drafts, you can easily draft-proof your windows and install draft-stoppers on your doors. Watch this video for more tips on how to winterize your home.

Harness the power of the sun: Leave your curtains open during the day. It will warm your home. Close them at sunset to keep the warmth inside. Close the doors of cold or empty rooms to keep the cold air from circulating.

Humidity

A humid home costs more to heat because your heating system must work harder to heat both the air and the water it contains. 

If you see condensation on your windows or mold on your walls, it is a sign of a high level of humidity in your home. 

To avoid this, use fans in your kitchen and bathroom.

And last but not least...

Save money through smart use of your appliances. Opening the oven door can waste energy, so use the light and check through the window instead. Some say that you can even turn the oven off 10 to 15 minutes beforehand, or the stove off two to three minutes beforehand, and that they will keep their heat.

Even if lighting is a small part of electrical consumption (5%), fluocompact or LED light bulbs use less energy than traditional bulbs.

For more information:

Energy-saving tips, Hydro-Québec