The cost of electricity has sure gone up in Ontario. According to the Ontario Energy Board, the province’s energy watchdog, hydro rates rose in May 2016 by 2.5% for households that used 750 kilowatt hours each month. The previous November, rates went up by roughly 3.4 percent on average. Plus, when the Clean Energy Benefit ended in 2015, rates increased another 10 percent. Yikes!
Before all of this happened, Environmental Defence Canada estimated that the average Ontario homeowner was paying about $137 a month in hydro costs in 2014 if they used 800 kilowatt hours of energy a month. Things are now, of course, pricier.
Why are there now high electricity bills? We’re paying for things such as:
- An oversupply of electricity, but because the provincial government is locked into contracts with private suppliers, we’re on the hook for it.
- Expensive green energy, such as wind and solar power.
- The inability of the Ontario Energy Board to watch over energy prices set by private producers dealing with the provincial government.
- A high consumption of electricity during peak hours.
- Highly paid hydro executives.
The good news is that there’s now a rebate on the HST of your home energy bills. That will take a small bite out of hydro costs.
Still, you might want to look at ways of saving energy to reduce your high electricity bills, given that they are expected to keep rising for the next 20 years. We offer some tips here that you might want to consider if you want to lower the cost on your pocketbook..
1. Use Appliances During Off-Peak Hours
There are some appliances in your home that are real energy hogs. If you can use them when you’re not paying as much for them, you can rack up big savings.
Consider that you’re paying 18 cents per kilowatt hour when energy is “on-peak” as opposed to 8.7 cents when it’s “off-peak”. You can see that you can impact your wallet by choosing to do certain chores using appliances that gobble up energy in off-peak times.
So, what are the appliances that use the most electricity? They include:
- Central air conditioners.
- Clothes dryers.
- Water pumps.
- Space heaters.
- Hair dryers.
- The burners on your stove (unless it’s gas).
For example, If you run the clothes dryer before 7 AM or after 7 PM on weekdays, you’ll be cutting down on how much energy you use and how much you spend. You can save as much as ⅓ of the cost (we also have another suggestion below).
Same thing goes with using the dishwasher on weekends. It’s a good idea to use the dishwasher on Saturday or Sunday if you don’t have enough dishes to fill it up during the week. By the way, you can save even more on your dishwasher’s energy use by using the air-dry setting or leaving the door open to naturally dry the dishes.
Being smart about your energy usage, especially around appliances that guzzle energy, can reduce high electricity bills. Basically, if you know how much energy you’re using and what it costs at any given time, you’ll probably make smarter choices about what you use and when.
2. Reduce “Phantom Power”
“Phantom power” refers to the electricity used by electronics in our homes when they are turned off and are not in use. Despite being off, they’re still plugged in and sucking up power in standby mode.
To eliminate this phantom use, plug all of your electronics into a power bar. Then, turn that power bar off whenever you’re not at home or not using these items.
How much can you reduce electricity bills and save on electricity when you do this?
Standby/phantom power uses about 10% of the average homeowner’s yearly electricity bill. If you unplug electronics when they are not in use, you can save $50 or more a year.
Those little things really do add up!
3. Change How You Use Computers and Electronics
Speaking of electronics, if you make changes to your computer use habits, you can pocket a little money, too. Turn off the computer monitor if you’re not going to use it for 20 minutes. If you’re not going to use your computer in the next two hours, shut it down, too.
Also, running both a DVR on your main TV and a regular set-top box for cable (which works like a computer) on another TV in your home could equal the energy used by a new fridge. Assuming you’re not using these devices to record shows when you’re out, turn them off.
It may mean waiting a few moments to start up your TV when you turn them back on, but factor the inconvenience against a high electricity bill. Or, you can also now buy a new energy efficient set-top box instead to save electricity.
You can also save by using your laptop instead of your desktop computer. If you use the laptop rather than the desktop for just two hours a day, the yearly savings can amount to $11 or more.
4. Don’t Use the Stove As Often
Another home appliance that uses a lot of energy is your electric stove. You’ll probably have little choice but to use it at a peak time (unless you can hold off having dinner until after 7 PM on weekdays), but there are ways you can save on the high electricity bills:
- Avoid using the stove at all if you can. A slow cooker, toaster oven, or a small microwave will use way less energy. The last two items on that list use half of the electricity of an electric stove. During the summer, you’ll be creating less heat in your house on hot, sticky days, too, by not using the stove. That’ll cut down on your cooling costs.
- If you do have to use the oven, don’t preheat it as much for cooking. Unless you’re baking, you might not need to preheat the oven at all.
- When you use the stove top, match the pots you use to the element size. Make sure the bottoms of your pans are flat, and use lids.
5. Be Smart About Doing the Laundry
The clothes washer and especially the dryer are appliances that use the most electricity. Every load of laundry you wash and dry costs a buck or two. That’s why you should always run full loads every time you do the laundry.
When it comes to drying your clothes, you can reduce electricity bills by:
- Putting your clothes on the outdoor clothesline during the summer months.
- Using an indoor drying rack during the winter.
6. Rethink Your Lighting
You can save on expensive hydro bills by simply making a few changes to how you light your house:
- If you switch to LED bulbs, Hydro One says you can cut your energy usage by up to 75 percent. LEDs use a quarter of the electricity, last longer and also don’t burn as hot.
- Shut off any lights when a room is empty for 10 minutes or more.
- Reduce the light you use in a highly lit area. If you turn off a 4-bulb fluorescent light fixture for 8 hours, you save more than 11 cents worth of electricity.
- If you eliminate three watts of lighting energy, your air conditioner doesn’t need to run as hard (by one watt). Turn off your lights, if you can, when the AC is running.
7. Buy Energy Star Appliances for Your Home
When it’s time to replace various appliances in your house, really think about buying energy-efficient Energy Star products as replacements.
You’ll find out the operating costs of many of these new appliances in the store because they’re printed on their labels. (Still, it doesn’t hurt to know how much energy your old appliances used to get a true appreciation of the savings.)
How much can you save? Replacing an ‘80s refrigerator with an Energy Star product and turning in a pre-1994 clothes washer for a new energy-efficient model will both save you more than $130 a year in total energy costs.
A new Energy Star dishwasher can also net you more than $30 a year in savings. If these new appliances last for, say, 20 years, you’re looking at hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in savings over the life of the model.
8. Consider Replacing Your Furnace Fan
A major source of energy consumption is in your basement. Furnace fans circulate air from your furnace or heat pump through the ducts into your house’s rooms. If you have central air conditioning, the fan circulates cool air through the same system.
In the United States, these fans use up almost 10 percent of the average household’s energy bill. If you switch to an energy efficient motor, such as a brushless permanent magnet model, you can cut the amount of energy you use by 60 percent.
Of course, you’ll need to hire someone to make the replacement, but the energy you save could be worth it.
9. Think About the Switch from Electrical to Gas
With electricity rates soaring and gas prices at rock bottom, you might want to consider heating your home with natural gas. Consider how much you might save when making the conversion. The savings could really add up.
Some furnaces (and tankless water heaters) also use a little bit of electricity, though. The amount can vary from being negligible — for instance, just powering a sensor or readout panel — to a lot more for the aforementioned blower fan. Ask your supplier about how much energy these products use before buying a new one.
10. Cut Your Air Conditioning Costs
Again, your central AC is an appliance that gobbles up electricity. If you follow these tips, you can really cut down on high electricity bills:
- Set your air conditioner a few degrees higher than you would when you are at home, and then turn it off completely when the house is empty. Or you could install an automatic thermostat, which could save you up to 10% on cooling costs. For the AC, you would set the programmable thermostat at 18° Celsius while you are asleep (and not at home) to see this saving.
- Replace or clean the filters once a month. This will help the AC run more efficiently and save you money.
- Have your cooling system checked every year. You will save energy and extend the life of your system.
- Use a ceiling fan to circulate cold air.
- Close blinds and curtains on the side of the house that received direct sun.
- Ensure there’s at least 41 centimeters (16 inches) of insulation in your attic, which will keep the sun out of your living spaces. This means your AC will work easier, saving you money.
- Install solar film on windows exposed to direct sunlight to reduce the work of your AC by as much as 30%.
You can consider buying a new, more energy efficient air conditioner, too. While the savings will add up over time, just be aware that anyone who claims that a new AC will “pay for itself” is probably out to scam you. You have to be realistic when it comes to the costs you’ll save from a new air conditioner.
Still, a new air conditioner can go a little way to saving you some money on the high electricity bill. Husky Air are experts in installing new air conditioners to help you pocket money and stay cool during the summer months. Contact us today and request a free quote.