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Top Tips for Lower Utility Bills this Winter

By September 28, 2011Blog

XCEED offers socially-responsible mortgage products that promote Green living, education and smart saving.XCEED promotes social responsibility and awareness. We believe that measurable change can be achieved if Canadians do what they can, big or small, to make a difference. It’s not enough for us to be Green; rather, we want to work with clients and partners to get Greener together.
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It was a major win for the Green team when the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program was renewed through 31 March 2011. The program helps homeowners save money by making homes more eco-efficient while offering up to $5000 in grants and rebates on top of any provincial or municipal programs in place. If you intend to take advantage of the extension, you should at least be in the planning stages now, as participants are required to have a “pre-retrofit evaluation before starting renovations, a post-retrofit evaluation and a signed grant application form by March 31, 2012.” (1)

Whether you’re planning large changes or small, you probably want to stretch your dollars as far as possible and so, with that in mind we’re offering you some ideas about that will satisfy any budget.

Let There Be Light
Compact fluorescent bulbs (cfls) can save you up to 75% on your energy costs and last much longer than regular bulbs. They come in different colours, watts and finishes now, too, so they will meet all of your mood-setting needs! Check out this handy GE calculator to see what you’ll save.

Always turn lights off in rooms when you leave and use lamps or small area lighting rather than overhead fixtures where possible.

Keepin’ it Clean
Combination washer-dryers are no longer eligible for the ENERGYStar certification, so keep that in mind if you’re looking to benefit from a rebate program like the Power Smart program in BC.

A washing machine that spins the water out of your clothes more efficiently instantly reduces drying time and energy costs. New dryers that use sensor technology ensure that no more of either is spent than is necessary. These costs add up quickly and dramatically after the luxury of summertime clotheslines and air drying. ENERGY STAR®qualified models are at least “30 percent more efficient than the Canada’s minimum energy efficiency standard and use 35 to 50 less water than traditional models.”(2)

Dishwashers are so high-performing now that a basic cycle and air dry will be more than enough to make your stemware shine! Set your water heater temperature to normal temps to save there, too. Some provinces offer rebates and free takeaway services, so look for ENERGY STAR®qualified models.

Seal it Up!
Windows. They let us look out at the snow falling while keeping us toasty warm…in theory; however, old windows (and doors) are often the biggest offenders when it comes to creeping energy bills. Replacing outdated models can earn you up to $40 per “opening” via the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program.

Some Like it Hot
We have survived the humidity of summer and now must move forward into Autumn…coloured leaves, chimney smoke, warm baths, that oh-so-Canadian game of chicken with the furnace that we never, ever win; and then, Winter arrives with her blasts and chills, snow days and shoveling. Most embrace the changing seasons but not the rising cost of heating during these long months. What can we do to control our expenses? First, inspect and clean your furnace to ensure it’s working optimally: change filters, lubricate the motor and make sure all vents are clear of debris and take it for a spin before the mercury gets too low to avoid any unpleasant surprises one cold morning. A clean, well-maintained furnace can make a 5% difference in efficiency. Keep your thermostat set to 68 degrees and throw on a cozy cardigan, if needed; in fact, go ahead and buy a new holiday sweater with all the money you’ll be saving on your bills!

If you’re thinking of replacing your heating system, then now is the time to do it to take advantage of the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program. Do your research carefully as there are many options and configurations. Use this handy calculator to start defining your needs. You’ll also find a lot of useful information here.

One more thing to keep in mind, regardless of the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program, focus on what you actually need for your home and start there instead of making upgrades, superficial or not, simply because you’ll get a small rebate from the government. If you’re serious, the first step is an energy audit which will get you an expert opinion and a starting point. From there, it’s really up to you!

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