Small changes reap big savings
When it comes to making your home more energy efficient, you can easily make small changes that won't cost you a dime.By Vancouver SunJanuary 27, 2012
When it comes to making your home more energy efficient, you can easily make small changes that won't cost you a dime.
With even a modest budget, big changes are possible, especially if you qualify for some of the grants and rebates available to home buyers and owners going green. And you'll recoup energy costs in the long-term making these change worthwhile. Where to begin?
. Green neighbourhoods. Buy a home in a neighbourhood close to work, transit, shopping, community centres and other services.
. Transit-oriented density. New, compact, complete green neighbourhoods are being built with transit as their focus. Instead of owning a car, join a car share cooperative, take transit, cycle or walk.
. Lower-cost luxury. If it's features such as a gym or pool you want, buy a strata unit with these amenities and share costs.
. Score your location. Walkable neighbourhoods offer health, environmental, financial and community benefits. Enter your address or the address of a home you want to buy at www.walkscore.com. This tool calculates a walkability score based on the home's proximity to transit, grocery stores, schools and other amenities.
. Get an energy audit. LiveSmart BC will cover $150 of the cost.
. Install a high-efficiency heating system. Make sure it's ENERGY STAR rated.
. Weatherize your home. From windows (BC Hydro provides grants of $60-$120) to doors to insulation and weather stripping. Don't forget to seal your ducts.
. Insulate your pipes. It will prevent costly heat loss.
. Insulate your hot water heater. Buy a pre-cut jacket or blanket for $10-$20. You'll save up to 10 per cent on heating costs.
. Install a programmable thermostat. Set it lower at night and during the day when you're away. Lower the temperature. Each degree below 20C saves you three to five per cent on heating costs.
. Clean your furnace filter. This optimizes performance.
. Get the most from your fireplace. Here's how to make it efficient.
. Use curtains. In the day time during summer, close to help cool your home.
. Install ceiling fans. The energy it takes to run a fan is less than an air conditioner. In summer, make sure the fan's blades are rotating anticlockwise for a cooling effect. In winter, the fan should be running clockwise, pushing the warm air down.
. Use a portable fan. On hot summer days, place a bowl of ice in front of it to cool down.
. Fix plumbing. Fix leaking taps. One drop per second equals 7,000 litres of water wasted per year.
. Install a water filter. Stop buying costly bottled water which adds to the landfill.
. Change your light bulbs. Lighting accounts for 15 per cent of your energy bill. Replace old bulbs with ENERGY STAR rated bulbs. Check for rebates.
. Sensor lights. Turn lights off outside when not in use.
. Keep it dark. Light pollution is an increasing problem. Turn off outdoor lights to save energy and encourage nightlife such as bats and frogs. A single bat can eat tens of thousands of mosquitoes nightly. If you have safety concerns, use motion detector lights - which come on, only as needed.
. Use LED lights during the holidays.
. Replace your fridge. An old energy guzzling fridge costs you about $85 a year to operate. Replace it with an ENERGY STAR fridge. BC Hydro will rebate you $50. BC Hydro will also not only come and pick up your old fridge free of charge, they'll rebate you $30.
. Replace your dishwasher. Buy an ENERGY STAR appliance. BC Hydro will rebate you $25.
. Replace your freezer. Buy an ENERGY STAR appliance and BC Hydro will rebate you $25.
. Conserve water. Fresh water comprises just three per cent the world's total water supply, so conserve. Get a rain barrel and harvest water you can use in your garden. Local governments such as Vancouver and Richmond will subsidize the cost.
. Less lawn. Lawns waste water. Instead conserve and beautify using indigenous plants such as ferns, tiger lilies and hostas.
. Grow your own. How much more will you spend on food this year? Even a few miniature fruit trees and a small vegetable garden in a raised bed or in containers will help keep you healthy and save you dollars. Lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries and blueberries thrive in our climate. Here's how.
. Preserve your produce. Invest in home canning jars and equipment and a small freezer and enjoy your produce year round - at considerable savings.
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