There are several tasks at home that most people rarely perform or are even aware of.
Almost all of these tasks can be done by anybody.
1) Check for drafts around doors, windows and wall plugs on any outside walls.
Heating a home in Vancouver can account for up to 75% of one’s yearly energy costs, many of the homes that were build in the 1920’s and earlier have no insulation, or some old newspapers used as insulation, back in the 20’s. Focus on the energy losses of your home heating system. All homes not built in the last 5 years can really benefit from a Home Air Leakage test. These services range up to about $150, and a great value, they will easily save you $ with simple fixes. If you have more serious issues, there are several rebate programs available to BC residents. Natural Resources Canada has a website with all the current rebates available, I have filtered the search Here to residential rebates. You can easily change the search filter, or contact me and I can help you determine which rebates might be helpful at that time.
If you have found some obvious air leaks, simple products from your favourite Hardware supply store can help you fix these. If you have single pane windows, consider adding a plastic film over your window frame, some great products come with 2 sided tape and a big roll of shrinking clear film to allow you to do many windows. Check around your doors, and ensure the seals are still in good shape, these can usually be replaced easily. Make sure all your doors/windows are closed all the way. And in many homes, leaks around the plugs in the walls can add up, simple kits are available to help seal those up.
2) Replace or clean your Furnace air filter ( Forced air system only) or Home Ventilation system, if equipped
Most people know they should replace their Force Air furnace filters regularly, but people forget, every home is different, so check your filter every month/week/day/quarter or whatever interval makes sense for your home. Make a reminder, if you have a smart thermostat, they usually have this feature built in, and just to be safe, check it now. Filters are inexpensive and a very quick way to start saving energy. BTW, this goes for every other device you own that moves air, your Bathroom ceiling fans, your range hood fan, your fireplace flue, your clothes dryer and anything with a fan in it.
3) Clean the cooling vents and tubes under or behind your refrigerator
Almost every client I have visited has neglected this task, almost all Fridges have a heat exchanging area, most with fans, that accumulate a large amount of the dust bunnies that exist in your home. Check under the front door of your fridge, you should see a vent cover, it should come off, and inside you will see either rows of tubes, or a wall of dust, or something in between. This should be cleaned (vacuumed) regularly, it may require you to pull the fridge away from the wall to get it done right. Some models have the cooling tubes on or in the rear, much easier to clean, but still need to get behind.
4) Use drapes, shades and curtains on your windows
This might be obvious to many, but simply closing drapes and shades and curtains over your windows will help, even if only at night. So when its cold outside, the window coverings help.
5) Use Water wisely, whether on metered water or not
We are on fixed water billing in our home, and the water pressure was very high, ~100psi, which is a lot for a residence, we opted to add a pressure reducer to lower our pressure to closer to 50psi, this also reduced the stress on our 80+ year old plumbing. If you have a pressure valve already, consider lowering it, if not, perhaps adding one might make sense for you. The easiest way is to simply turn off the tap when you aren’t using it, don’t run the water while you brush every tooth, or rinse plates if you have a dishwasher, and there are a bunch of water saving attachments that can be added to reduce the water flow right at each faucet or showerhead. At the moment, if your income is limited, BCHydro has Free Energy saving kits available.
If you have any questions or comments about these tips, or tips of your own, please feel free to add a comment, or contact me directly.