Cut the Costs Without Cutting Your Power: Four Easy Ways to Save on Energy

When you have many larger bills, like mortgage and insurance payments, it might seem easier not to sweat the small stuff. A few extra dollars on gas and electricity doesn't seem like a lot in comparison.

However, according to economist Adrienne Warren at Scotiabank, household energy bills in Canada have spiked by 5% over the last year. A survey by Hydro-Quebec recently reported that Edmonton residents pay the fourth-highest energy bills in Canada - making their bills the eighth-highest in all of North America.

As gas and electric costs rise and we plug more and more electronic devices into our outlets, energy bills will only grow larger. Fortunately, these tips will cut down on energy bills, bulk up your wallet, and save Mother Earth all at the same time.

1. Keep Your Airways Clean

To heat or cool your home, air needs to flow smoothly through the vents, which is impossible if your vents aren't clean and clear. Make sure your vents are open and that they're free from any debris that could slow your air flow, force your HVAC equipment to work harder, and cost you more money.

Similarly, your air filters need to be changed regularly, since they gather dust and debris that can keep air from flowing smoothly. At the bare minimum, change your filter every three months, though most experts recommend swapping the filter on a monthly basis. As an added bonus, regularly cleaning your air filter extends your HVAC equipment's life and saves you money on later cleanings or repairs caused by dirt buildup.

2. Don't Throw Energy Out the Window

You might think your home is sealed against the elements, but do a little searching-your home might be leaking more air than you think, especially around the windows and doors.

Because your doors and windows are exposed to the outdoors on one side, they get hot during the summer and cool during the winter. Windows and doors that aren't energy-efficient will let this hot or cold air seep into your home, counteracting the effects of your air conditioning or heater and costing you all year long.

In contrast, energy-efficient windows and doors can keep the indoors cool in summer and hot in winter without losing as much energy. Energy Star-certified products come with energy performance ratings that should tell you how well the product resists air leakage and heat radiation.

Look for windows or doors with a lower U-factor, which measures heat loss, and lower air leakage ratings for ultimate energy efficiency.

3. Upgrade Your Light Bulbs

Old light bulbs don't shine as bright or last as long as newer eco-friendly bulbs, and they also suck up a great deal more energy. Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) can last for much longer-from 10 to 25 times as long!-while putting out the same or more light. They also use 75% less electricity than older or more traditional bulbs.

CFL bulbs come in many shapes and sizes, including the spiral, which can replace 60 watt to 150 watt traditional bulbs. Make sure to choose the right size and shape for the job by examining your light fixture before purchasing a bulb.

You can also find CFL bulbs that cast a warmer glow (2700-3000 on the Kelvin scale) or a more natural glow (5000-65000K) depending on your needs. CFL bulbs work both indoors and outdoors-replacing your outdoor light bulbs will cast a cozier glow at night while costing you less.

You can also recycle your CFL bulbs once they do run out instead of throwing them away. This way, you're helping the environment by using less energy and keeping it cleaner once your bulbs have done their job.

4. Avoid Phantom Load

You likely have many electronic devices, such as your TV or microwave, which you keep plugged in when not in use. However, keeping your electronic devices plugged into the wall all day long can result in extra charges to your electric bill: phantom load can add an extra 10% to your monthly energy bill!

This phantom load, also known as a vampire charge, is incredibly easy to avoid: simply unplug your devices when they're not in use. Power strips can help-instead of reaching down to unplug each individual device, just flip a button on the strip and you'll cut off extra electric flow to each device plugged into the strip.

Also, make sure to watch charging devices and unplug them as soon as they're charged, especially cell phones and computers. Keeping them plugged in once they're already charged is tough on your battery as well as your wallet.

Applying these four easy steps can save a great deal of money on your monthly energy bill. Give your wallet (and the environment!) a break by following these simple steps. You'll quickly have a more energy-efficient home without spending a fortune.

For more tips, be sure to check out our blog or contact our helpful staff at Sunrise Windows & Doors Depot for more information!

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