Energy Saving Tips
Thursday, October 25, 20071 Comment
If you live off campus the chances are you probably need to pay for hydro and heat separate from rent. If this is not your first year living off campus you know that these bills sky rocket during the winter, and if this is your first winter, you're in for a shock! However there are many small things you can do to cut costs and conserve energy this winter:
1.) Older houses tend to loose a lot of heat from windows that are not well insulated. You can buy a special window covering kit from any hardware store. The prices vary but 70$ will buy a large enough roll to cover many windows. The kit comes with two sided tape which you stick onto the window frames and put the sheet plastic on top of it. Then you use a regular blow drier which, almost magically, suctions the plastic tight to the frame. If done correctly the plastic will be almost as clear as glass and it will cut down on drafts and heating costs. (Remember that it is the responsibility of your landlord to take care of the house you rent. Ask for reimbursement from this purchase which you made in order to compensate for ancient windows.)
2.) Employ grey water systems in your bathrooms. Toilets waste a huge amount of fresh water (30 liters of water per flush!). 30 to 45% of household water usage goes straight down the drain through toilets. You can conserve, or more accurately reuse, water by removing the 'stopper' from under your bathroom sink and putting a large bucket underneath. When you wash your hands, brush your teeth and wash you face the bucket will collect everything and become what is termed 'grey water'. Once the bucket fills to a certain level it can be used to flush the toilet by simply pouring it into the toilet bowl. You could also plug the bath tub as you take a shower and use the excess water collected there in the same fashion. It is not advisable to store grey water for long periods of time, so use it as you go. Also, for more information about everything concerning water use and recycling check out the Greywater Guerrillas.
3.) Make sure that YOU control the thermostat (if you can't, ask your land lord to install one that is programable). Turn it way down at nights when your snuggled up in warm covers. If you have a larger house consider entirely closing off rooms you don't use. Or if you live with friends, keeping the house temperature low and using an energy efficient space heater in shared common rooms during the day. Just a few degrees can make a huge difference on your bill.
4.) Stop denying that it's COLD outside! We all wish it was t-shirt weather year round but it's not. So go to your local second hand store and stock up on wooly sweaters, socks, slippers, scarves, hats and mittens. Layers really do make a cooler house more bearable, so does drinking lots of tea and eating spicy foods. Also if your just sitting and reading in your favorite chair or going to bed why not heat a hot water bottle and keep it under a blanket with you?
5.) Get active. Nothing makes you colder than sitting and shivering. Dance around, cook something, play in the snow, or go for a walk.
6.) There are lots of tiny actions that add up over time. Turn off lights when your not in a room, close doors, fix leaky pipes and dripping taps and use energy efficient appliances (like compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs) when ever possible.
7.) Turn down the water heater, it is a huge energy consumer. One site I visited suggested 3 to 5% savings in energy for every 10 degrees you lower it. (However, make sure you keep the temperature of the tank above 130 degrees to prevent bacterial growth.) For specifics on which type of water heater you have and how to adjust temperature visit this site.
8.) Use cold water to wash clothes. Dry wet clothes on a rack or by hanging them.
9.) Watch out for 'phantom load' appliances. These suck energy to remain 'ready' by pulling current even when they are not in use, i.e. the clock on your VCR or anywhere you see a glowing light. You can buy special devices that cut current but you can also just unplug these sneaky devices where ever you see them.
10.) If you'd like more detailed information about specific appliances or home systems please visit the Canadian Office of Energy Efficiency.
Winter bills can be really scary, especially if money is tight. A lot of these actions can make a tangible difference, they can empower you to feel like you have better control over where the energy you pay for is being spent.
If sustainable living interests you, stay tuned for a special tour of 7 College Ave West; a cooperative housing project designed with state of the art green technologies for sustainability.