woman changing smart thermostat

Improving your home’s energy efficiency doesn’t have to mean making expensive or complicated upgrades. In fact, it can be as simple—quite literally—as changing a lightbulb. And once you know what to do to cut back on energy consumption everywhere from the kitchen to the home office, you’ll really start seeing your savings light up.

Read on for 10 easy ways to reduce your household energy use.

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1Put an end to phantom power in your home office.

hand unplugging a plug

If you’re still living that WFH life, you know it’s jacking up your electricity costs. According to Natural Resources Canada, electronics account for up to 10 per cent of your utility bill.[1]

Worst of all, your laptop, tablet, printer and other devices could be sucking up much as 75 per cent of their electricity when you’re not even using them![2] That’s because when they’re plugged in, they’re drawing so-called phantom power, which can really add up. Curb the energy drain by shutting down and unplugging devices when they’re not in use, and plugging office desk and floor lamps into switch timers so they’re only on when needed.

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Energy-Saving Tip
Catching up on a TV show or movie during your lunch break? Watch on your laptop or tablet—they both use less energy for streaming than a gaming console does.[3]

2Wash clothes and dishes in the evening.

finger pushing ‘eco’ button on washing machine

In most provinces, electricity rates are billed by time-of-use, and are most expensive on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Save laundry marathons for weekends or evenings, when hydro rates are down, sometimes by as much as 50 per cent.[4]

Make multiple loads at a time more efficient by sorting your laundry before washing, and by hanging clothes on a laundry rack to air dry when possible. Save electricity and water by only running the dishwasher when it’s full, and then choosing air dry mode for a shorter cycle. Add a rinse aid to the load and glasses will air dry spotlessly.

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Energy-Saving Tip
Did you know that washing dishes by hand requires around 5,200 gallons of water per year?[5] Save yourself precious minutes, money and water by running the dishwasher instead. For maximum efficiency, skip the pre-rinse and wait until it’s full to turn it on.

3Run ceiling fans throughout the year.

ceiling fan

Ceiling fans aren’t just for sweaty summer nights! By adjusting the direction of the blades, you can help control room temperature to save on cooling and heating costs.

During the summer months, set the blades to spin counter-clockwise, to push air down for a cool-feeling breeze while you sleep. During the winter, set the blades to run clockwise to help distribute heat—this trick could save you up to 15 per cent on heating bills.[6]

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4Keep your appliances clean and dust-free.

hand holding hose to washing machine outflow pipe

We often don’t think about servicing our major appliances until they break down, but regular maintenance will keep your refrigerator, dryer and washing machine humming. Over time, the vent at the back of your clothes dryer exhaust gets clogged with dust and lint, and the motor has to work even harder, using more energy.

To keep everything operating efficiently, when you do major fall and spring clean-ups, pull out your appliances, vacuum behind them, and give their interiors a deep clean too. When it’s time to upgrade, be sure to invest in Energy Star-rated products for the most energy-efficient option.

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5Keep up with furnace upkeep.

hand replacing furnace filter

If your home has a high-efficiency furnace, you’re already a step ahead in energy savings. But, even an older model can be made more efficient. Be sure to replace your furnace filter every three months—a dirty or clogged filter makes it harder for the furnace to do its job, increasing your energy costs. (You may need to replace it even more often if you have fluffy pets or are doing home renovations).

An annual servicing by a professional will clean the parts you can’t see and ensure your furnace is working in peak condition. Treat your air conditioner to an annual servicing too, to save up to 10 per cent on your cooling costs![7]

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6Seal and cover your windows.

hands holding caulking gun to window frame

If you don’t have airtight window seals, you’re losing heat in winter and cool air in summer. Apply weatherstripping or caulking around frames to eliminate drafts. Adding an exterior window film for the coldest months can further increase efficiency.

Next, make sure your window coverings are working for you, too. Every window should be equipped with well-fitted blinds or curtains that can be closed during peak hours in the summertime, to naturally cool your home, and fully opened midday during the colder months to add some warmth.

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7Program your thermostat.

woman programming smart thermostat

Roughly 60 per cent of your hydro bill goes to heating and cooling your home.[8] Installing a smart thermostat is one of the biggest cost-saving changes you can make, by setting optimal temperatures at optimal times. Hydro One recommends setting your thermostat to between 18 and 20 degrees during the winter months, and then raising it to 25 for the summer.[9,10]

When you’re away from home, ease off on the heating and cooling by adjusting the temperature by a degree or two (or better yet, by turning the air conditioning off completely), for optimal savings. You can set schedules, reminders and make additional changes anytime by using the compatible app on your smartphone.

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8Go all-in with your Instant Pot and other small appliances.

hands mixing meat and veggies Instant Pot

Using small kitchen appliances more often can save big time on your next hydro bill. Meals made in your Instant Pot, air fryer or toaster oven use around half the energy of dishes cooked in your conventional oven.

That said, conventional ovens can hold a lot of food. Batch-cooking several dishes at once (and freezing extras for future use) can help save on energy costs by reducing the number of times you turn your oven on.

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9Cool it on the hot water.

energy efficient shower head

All those steamy soaks in the tub and loads of white sheets washed on hot add up. Water heating is the second-largest energy expense in your home.[11]

Cut back by installing an energy-efficient showerhead, taking shorter showers, fixing leaky taps, adding aerators to kitchen and bathroom faucets and by doing all laundry on the cold-water cycle.[12]

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Energy-Saving Tip
If you’ve got a pool in your yard, simply adding a cover can lower water heating costs by as much as 50 per cent![13]

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10Swap out traditional lighting for energy-efficient bulbs.

installing energy efficient LEDs

You’ve probably upgraded at least some of your home lighting to high-efficiency bulbs, but now’s the time to complete the turn-over. Switching to LED lightbulbs throughout your house, from the front porch to your bathroom vanity, will save you up to 75 per cent in electricity costs. [14]

LEDs never actually burn out, they slowly dim over time, so you won’t actually need to change a light bulb again for a very long while. Bonus: they work well indoors and outdoors, are resistant to shock and vibration, and stay relatively cool to the touch.

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