Home Energy

Cost (Cost to implement): L/M/H, Diff (Difficulty level): L/M/H, ERP (Energy reduction potential): L/M/H

Browse through the following actions to create your Home Energy Action Plan. Each item is listed in the category where it will help you reduce your energy use.

To help you make selections, each item is ranked in terms of Cost to implement, Level of Difficulty, and Energy Reduction Potential. Refer to the legend and choose the actions that best fit your lifestyle.

Once you have selected your actions, download or print your Action Plan and get started in reducing your energy use and emissions!

Can you think of a Home Energy action not included in our list? Contact Us and we'll add it to our list.

Choose actions:

(*items for renters)

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Run washing machines and dishwasher with full loads to reduce energy and water. A lot of water is wasted when these machines aren't run with full loads, and especially in case of your washing machine, it isn't good for the life of the appliance.

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Tumble dryers use a significant amount of energy, when a sunny day can dry your clothes often just as fast. Or, on bad weather laundry days, set up a drying rack.

The actual cost of running a dryer varies on electricity cost, how often use do laundry, and the make and model of the dryer. On average, it can cost anywhere from $85 to $175 annually, and more if you have a larger family.15

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Most dishwashers allow you to manually turn off the drying cycle. Not using heat in the drying cycle can save 20% of your dishwasher’s total electricity use. Also make sure to only run your dishwasher when it’s full; it is wasteful to run partial loads.

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There are countless online sources that can help you decide on the right new appliance. Make sure any new appliance you purchase is certified with the Energy Star – this alone can save you up to 20% on your energy bill compared to a new non-certified appliance. For complete information on Energy Star appliances and how they compare to older models in Canada, see the Office of Energy Efficiency with Natural Resources Canada:

An overview of things to consider:

Refrigerators

  • models with the freezer on top/bottom use 10 to 15% less energy than side-by-side models.
  • A large refrigerator will use more energy than a smaller one, but a large fridge is more efficient than two smaller ones, or even a fridge plus a deep freezer.

Washer and Dryers

  • Front-loading washers are more efficient by using less water
  • Consider washer with faster spin speeds and adjustable water levels to increase efficiency

Dishwashers

  • New models usually have a “light” or energy-saving wash, which takes less time and uses less water for lighter loads. Also look for “air drying” with circulation fans, instead of heat-drying with coils.

When considering new appliances, always check for government rebates or trade-in incentives for retiring old appliances! Click here for more information on how to save money by upgrading your appliances.

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Do you have an old, second fridge or freezer in the basement or garage? Odds are it is keeping a few drinks cold, and not much else. Unplugging it and getting it safely recycled can reduce your electricity use significantly. Fridges are the second-largest energy user in the home, after air conditioners; a single fridge can account for 13% of energy use.18

Often, extra refrigerators are older models (i.e. models made before 2001) and these are incredibly inefficient when compared with new Energy Star models.19 See the section on energy-efficient appliances if you are interested in upgrading your fridge to a more efficient one

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You know those charging devices, or electronic clocks all over the house (i.e. on your microwave or stove)? They are still using power, even when you aren’t using them. Computers, televisions, DVD players, modems, and device chargers are all using power even when not in use.

It doesn’t amount to much, but it can make a 5 – 10% difference in your energy bill, or a cost savings of $1 to $5, depending on the cost of energy.20

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Your refrigerator and freezer are likely set colder than they need to be. Optimal temperatures of 37°F and 3°F for your fridge and freezer, respectively, are plenty cold enough to keep your food fresh.

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Most detergents on the market are equally effective in cold water, and this switch can have major impacts. Up to 90% of the energy used to run a washing machine is used to heat the water.16

Consider the following table that illustrates the electricity use and cost of various wash/rinse settings. Assuming electricity is at a cost of $0.12/kWh, it is clear that the cold/cold setting is the most economical.17

Wash/Rinse Setting Electricity Use (kWh/load) Cost ($) Per Load Cost ($) Per Year
Hot/Warm 4.5 0.68 265
Warm/Warm 3.5 0.53 206
Hot/Cold 2.8 0.42 165
Warm/Cold 1.9 0.29 112
Cold/Cold 0.3 0.04 16
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Most people leave computers, televisions and similar electronics on even when not in use. Put your computer on standby when you aren’t using it, and shut your tv off when you leave the room.

Speaking of computers, keep in mind that a desktop computer with an LCD monitor consumes far more energy than a laptop: 60 – 250 W compared to 15 – 45 W, respectively (this is hugely dependent on the make and model of your computer, and what you use it for). Also, your computer on screen saver mode is NOT saving energy: screen saver mode does not change the watts used. Standby, hibernate or power off is far more effective!

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If you think there are measures that could be taken to increase energy efficiency, talk to you landlord, and even provide some pricing options. Making it obvious that it is a worthwhile investment that has a large return on investment will help your case. 

If you own your home, talk to your family or housemates about things you all can implement to keep energy costs down.

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This is a great way to see what the largest consumers of energy are in your own home. They aren’t very expensive: generally about $10 to $20, and you can target your reduction actions accordingly to what is having the most impact on your bills and on the environment.

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A professional can assess where to target your home improvements better than any list, or you can try a do-it-yourself home assessment.

Use this guide if you are trying it yourself.

Read this before getting a professional home energy audit.

The value of getting an energy audit done greatly depends on each individual home and the improvements that are recommended by the audit. Homeowners should be prepared for an initial cost for the audit and recommended improvements, but the return on investment will be high with adding value to your home and saving on energy bills. Often the return on investment is over 100%, and the audit and improvements can pay for themselves within two years.23

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Make sure all air registers are clear of furniture so that air can circulate freely. If your home has radiators, place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls. In the winter, this will help heat the room instead of the wall.

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This is very easy with a programmable one. Heating and cooling can be the biggest electricity drains on a house, often up to 50% of your home energy use.13 Turning the thermostat down at night (and even during the day when everyone is out) can seriously help this.

A general rule of thumb is that you will save 2% on your heating bill for every degree you lower your thermostat overnight.1 This can be automated by installing a programmable thermostat. The initial costs of installing a programmable thermostat can range from about $30 to $300, depending on the sophistication of the system. This, however, is a one-time cost, and the investment will repay itself in just one to two years with electricity savings.

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Use fans to circulate air, reducing demands from your air conditioner. Also, shade south and west facing windows during sunlight hours or with plants.

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Central heating and cooling account for 63% of residential home energy usage in Nova Scotia. If it makes sense to do so, try smaller temperature regulation measures: space heaters or fans.

If you live in a large home but only use a few rooms regularly, space heating can be a great and cheaper option – especially if there are areas of your home where heat is escaping from attics, windows, doors, etc. This can significantly reduce your energy use. Similarly with fans in the summertime, cooling your entire house is costly, whereas operating one or more fans in the room you are using is significantly less expensive.

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This is generally inexpensive and easy to install, reducing drafts and heating demands. Seals and caulks work for leaks as well.

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In Nova Scotia in particular with a significant cold season, heat loss through inefficient windows can be major energy drain. Energy Star certified windows are available, and a full guide to choosing the right windows for your home can be found here.

A study done in Boston by the US EPA and the University of Minnesota found an 11 to 26% reduction in heating costs for window upgrades.22 Obviously, the more you invest the more savings you can see. But even minor window upgrades can make a 10% reduction in heating costs.

http://www.csbr.umn.edu/

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It is estimated that homeowners can save 10 to 20% on heating and cooling costs by air sealing their home and adding insulation to attics and crawl-spaces.21 The simple techniques listed for home weatherizing can be implemented with a more extensive insulation to achieve maximum efficiency.

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Sealing your home from losing heat in the winter, or letting heat in in the summertime, make a huge impact; heating and cooling account for 63% of residential energy use in Nova Scotia. There are simple ways to do this without breaking the bank, either.

  • Shrink wrap windows. This simple, cost effective solution helps most in winter when you aren’t opening and closing the windows.
  • Caulk around windows and doors.
  • Draft stoppers on door bottoms.
  • Apply weatherstripping.

A study done in Houston, Texas revealed that energy reductions of 12 to 18% were seen after home weatherizing, and can result in a cost reduction of 20 to 30%.10  These numbers could be even higher in Canadian homes, with more significant heating needs.

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Lighting can account for 11% of home energy usage, so increasing efficiency can make a noticeable difference in your bills. The use of compact fluorescents can save you on the cost of bulbs – they last significantly longer than incandescent bulbs. Plus, they are far more efficient. Compact fluorescent bulbs use 65 to 75% less energy than standard, incandescent bulbs.

Consider the following example from www.onemillionbulbs.com that compares one 100W standard incandescent bulb with 1 000 hours life to a 28W compact fluorescent with 10 000 hours life (these produce the same light).
So, to achieve 10 000 hours of light with electricity cost of $0.12 kWh:11

  Standard Incandescent Compact Fluorescent Savings
Cost of bulb 7.50 5.00 2.50
Cost of electricity 120.00 33.6 86.40
    TOTAL SAVINGS 88.90
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Generally, if your water heater tank is warm to the touch, it should be insulated. Insulating your water heater tank can reduce standby heat losses (heat leaches from the tank to surrounding air) by 25 to 45%, and can save 4 to 9% in water heating costs. Utilities and hardware stores sell water heater blankets for under $20 13 – but make sure they are right for your particular heater!

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Most water heaters are set at a very high temperature, when there is no need for it. Setting a water heater at 120°F, often a 20 degree difference, can save on electricity bills and is safer for your family; water at 130°F can cause skin burns in just 30 seconds.12

Water heating can account for 12% of your home energy use. By lowering the temperature on your water heater by 10 degrees, you can save 3-5% on your overall energy costs.13

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Tankless water heaters avoid the issue of standby losses, because they aren’t storing water like the traditional tank water heaters. They generally cost more to install, but have lower operational costs and can last almost double as long as a traditional water heater.

Another option is to try a solar water heater. While the initial installation costs will be high and depend on your house’s location, water heating costs can be reduced by 50 to 80%14. Talk with a professional to see if solar heating is right for you, and the system could pay for itself quickly with the amount saved from your electricity bills.

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Swap your traditional shower head with a low flow model. These reduce the amount of water used and save energy as well.

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