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By all predictions, this winter is expected to be a real chiller. That's all the more reason to check your home for energy wasters. Finding ways to conserve energy will help lower those high heating and hydro bills.

Although most of us are aware of ways to reduce energy use around the home, often we don't practice what we know. This handy list should help to get you motivated:

  • Check the Thermostat
    Whether you heat with oil, gas or electricity, you can save up to three per sent on heating bills for each degree you lower the thermostat below your normal setting. It's up to you to establish your comfort zone. Generally, settings should be 21 C (70 F) when you're home, 18 C (64 F) when sleeping at night and 16 C (61 F) when the house is unoccupied. At minimal cost, you can install a programmable thermostat, which automatically sets days and nighttime temperatures.
  • Spot Heat
    If you want to save substantially on heating bills and still achieve a certain level of comfort, try "spot heating." Keep the indoor temperature low and use small portable heaters to get instant heat when and where you need it. For instance, you might want to keep the electric heater on while you're dressing or to take the chill out of the bathroom. Used for only short periods of time, electric heaters add little to your electricity bill. Electric blankets also work well.
  • Bundle Those Windows and Doors
    If your doors and windows have not been recently weather stripped and caulked, you may be losing precious heat and energy that you pay dearly for. Take the time to caulk cracks and joints and weather strip your windows and doors. Sealing cracks and openings can reduce heat loss by as much as 30 per cent. To check your home, for heat loss, hold a lit candle around the edges of doors and windows. If the flame flickers, you are either losing heat or receiving air. Neither is good. Storm windows are another big heat and money saver. If your windows are not made with insulating glass, you should use storm windows in winter. Plastic sheeting sealed around a window works just as well as storms.
  • Increase your insulation
    Poorly insulated attics, exterior walls and floors cheat you out of heat all winter. Older homes, especially, often have insufficient insulation. Check your basement walls, floor and attics. Consider upgrading your attic and basement insulation if it appears inadequate.
  • Maintain your Heating System
    Poorly maintained heating system can suck you out of a lot of energy. By getting your heating system to operate at peak efficiency, you can cut costs. That means getting system inspected, adjusted and cleaned at least once a year-generally before the start of the heating season. Replacing or cleaning the filters on your furnace regularly also increases efficiency.
  • Let the Sun Shine In
    If your windows have a southern exposure and its a sunny day, pull up all the shades and open all the drapes. The more sun you let in the more money you'll save on heating bills. But always remember to pull down the shades and close the drapes when the sun disappears to keep the heat in.
  • Be Fireplace Smart
    Many fireplaces waste more heat then they produce. If you leave the damper open when the fireplace is not in use, heat will escape up the chimney. A glass fire screen is the best protection against heat loss. Installing a heat circulator in your fireplace will also increase its efficiency.
  • Fix Those Leaks
    One leaky hot water faucet can cost up to $25 a year just for the energy to heat the wasted water. So, fix those leaky faucets. You can also save energy and money by washing dishes and laundry using cold water settings whenever possible, taking more showers and fewer baths.
  • Use Energy-Saving Appliances
    Some household items use a lot of power- the refrigerator, clothes dryer, colour TV, electric lights and so on. Be more energy conscious:
    • Turn off all unnecessary lights.
    • Use fluorescent lights whenever possible- these use 75 per cent less electricity than regular incandescent lights.
    • Clean the lint filter on your clothes dryer after every load.
    • Use energy saving features on large appliances.
    • Turn kitchen and bathroom fans off unless necessary – these love to suck up all that warm air you pay to heat.
The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.