Winter Energy Efficiency

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but reality is reality…winter is coming.  And for those of us in beautiful Alberta, that means higher energy bills.  Fortunately, there are some simple things that anyone can do to their home to make cut our bills each month.  The following tips will not only help to reduce our energy footprint, but will also keep just a little bit more money in your pocket each month.

1.  Find and eliminate drafts:  Houses are built pretty airtight these days, but many homes more than 20 years old weren’t built with today’s efficiencies.  This means that gaps around windows and doors are not uncommon.  And even new homes can have weatherstripping that is starting to deteriorate.  The easiest ways to find drafts in your home is to hold a candle around around the edges of your doors and windows.  Any dancing of the flame indicates a draft which will increase your energy costs. 

2.  Add some insulation:  As much as 25-35% of your home’s heat energy is lost through the attic.  A quick look through your attic hatch will tell you how much insulation you have up there.  Blowing in just a few inches of cellulose can increase your attics insulation value by R-10. 

3.  Seal the chimney:  if you have a wood burning fireplace, check the chimney flu to make sure that it’s sealed when it’s closed.  Seal a leaky flu or it won’t be just wood that’s going up in smoke up your chimney; you’ll be burning money up there too.

4.  Upgrade your thermostat:  Having a programmable thermostat that can decrease the temperature in your house while you’re sleeping or away during the day can have a significant impact on your energy bills.  A programmable thermostat can be purchased for less than $50 at your local home improvement store and can make your money back by the end of the first winter.  They’re not difficult to install and will bring immediate returns on your investment.

5.  Replace your furnace filter:  Replacing your furnace filter in many cases is as simple as pulling out the hold and sliding in the new (make sure the new is the same size as the old).  A clean filter will cause your furnace to function more efficiently and reduce your electricity costs.

It’s a given that as Canadians we’re going to have to shell out our cold, hard cash during our cold, hard winters, but following these tips will at least leave a bit more of that cash in your pocket.

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