8 ways you can save energy and money

Saving energy can do a lot for you. Not only does it help reduce carbon emissions — which can help you breathe easier — but it can also save you some money.

The far-reaching global effects of energy consumption are greatly publicized but how can watching our energy usage change our day-to-day lives? We don’t always connect our individual actions to global problems, but consider the electricity that you use throughout the day; the natural gas that heats your shower in the morning, the energy that runs your computer at work, and the lights you turn on around your house at night— it all adds up.

If climate change doesn’t motivate you to make a change, then consider the impact on air quality or the cost. Greenhouse gas emissions contribute to poor air quality which affects your health. Prices for oil and fossil fuel energy sources continue to get more expensive. Perhaps consider reducing your energy use in order to save money on your electricity bill.  

Here are eight tips that can help you reduce your daily energy consumption:

1.Use your thermostat efficiently
A programmable thermostat lets you manage the temperature when you aren’t home. By choosing options that reduce the difference in temperature between the exterior and interior of your house, you can reduce energy loss and costs. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, manually adjust the thermostat when coming and going.

2. Get to know your ceiling fans
If you have ceiling fans in your house, use them wisely. Ceiling fans should be set to spin counter-clockwise in the summer, which pulls hot air up to the ceiling and away from the living space. In the winter, reverse the setting so the fans blow the hot air down.

3. Try Energy Star appliances
Energy Star identifies energy-efficient appliances, including washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, room air conditioners, computers and more. When you are shopping for new appliances, look for the Energy Star  label and consider options that optimize your energy use to save dollars.

4. Power down your electronics
Stereos, computers, televisions, kitchen appliances, and any other plugged-in appliances draw a small amount of power even when turned off. “Standby Power”, the electricity used by electronic devices and appliances when they are in standby mode but not unplugged, accounts for 5 to 10% of all energy consumption in the average Canadian household1. Use a surge-protected powerstrip to turn them completely off when not in use, or unplug these items until you really need them.

6. Fix water leaks
Consider how much energy is used to treat and transport your water. When you conserve water, you conserve water and energy. Be sure to repair or replace faucets that drip, fix toilets that leak and turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or scrubbing dishes.

7. Up your furnace’s efficiency
Change the filter on your furnace on a frequent basis. Many furnace manufacturers recommend doing it quarterly or even monthly to keep the unit operating at peak efficiency. Similarly, empty the lint filter on your dryer after every use. Even a small amount of lint build-up hampers the flow of air from your dryer, reducing energy efficiency.

8. Save heat, save energy
Don’t waste energy. Close the doors on your refrigerator and house as quickly as possible. Keep fireplace dampers shut when not in use. Close the curtains to cover your windows at night. All of these little efforts help to conserve energy by preventing heat loss.

Learn more about UAlberta’s Envision energy management program and other initiatives from Energy Management and Sustainable Operations.

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