2020 was full of surprises and changes, both good and bad. Amidst these changes, our energy usage habits have changed too. Many of us began working from home, home renovations became more popular than ever, and our social lives changed.
While it’s a relief to have 2020 behind us, there were still some positive changes that happened to balance out the chaos - including the provincial government’s decision to provide electricity consumers with the opportunity to choose the rate plan that best fits their energy needs: time-of-use or tiered rates.
Because it’s hard to predict what exactly 2021 has in store for us, especially as we kick it off during a lockdown, we thought we would share some tips on how to save on your energy bill throughout this new year, while keeping these different rate options in mind.
Tips from a time-of-use (TOU) perspective:
With the TOU electricity rate option, the key to saving on your energy bill is prioritizing your electricity usage during off-peak times.
- Shift heavy electricity usage
Adjusting your schedule so you can use electricity more heavily on weekdays between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. - or on weekends - can make a significant impact on your energy bill. Consider planning ahead by preparing dinner the night before, after 7 p.m, when the kids are in bed. Likewise, wait until that time to shower, turn on your dishwasher or to do laundry. Weekends are also a great time to perform bulk laundry loads or prepare meals in advance for the week.
- Try no-bake recipes during the day
If you’re eating more meals at home these days, try expanding your no-bake repertoire to limit energy usage. Whether you choose to get fancy with Pinterest-inspired recipes or opt for a salad or sandwich, a focus on cold/no-bake meals is a great excuse to mix up your meals, get those vitamins in, all while lowering your energy bill.
- Experiment with a pressure cooker
In case you didn’t know already, the pressure cooker is a great energy-efficient appliance to cook your meals with. It not only cooks faster, it also uses less energy. Many models also have an automation feature that allows you to set the start-time for your meal to cook.
- Eliminate phantom power
Electronics in your household often continue to draw power even after they are turned off, resulting in what’s called ‘phantom power.’ To prevent this, keep electronics unplugged when not in use. To help make this easier, plug them into a power bar with a timed off switch. If you find that you and your family are forgetful about turning off the TV or different lights around the house, try applying a sleep mode function to your TV and installing smart light bulbs to program them when to turn off.
- Charge your devices during off-peak hours
Instead of leaving devices like your laptop plugged in all day, try leveraging your battery as much as possible during on-peak hours and, whenever possible, wait to charge them up once off-peak pricing is in effect.
Tips from a tiered rates perspective:
Tiered rates offer consumers the flexibility to use electricity at any time without fluctuating rates. Instead, customers are charged a fixed rate for a set amount of kWh used in a month - this rate only increases to the next tier once the customer has exceeded that monthly threshold. The key to saving on your energy bill with a tiered rate plan is to limit your total monthly usage to the first tier.
- Set a reminder to change your HVAC filter regularly
When your HVAC filter is dirty or clogged, it causes your furnace to work a lot harder to force air through. This can mean higher energy consumption and greater wear on your furnace over time without you really noticing - until your bill comes in. To keep things running efficiently, change out your furnace filter at least once every 90 days.
- Hang your clothes to dry
Your dryer is a huge consumer of electricity. To help cut down on this electricity usage, try hanging your clothes to dry using a drying rack or clothesline system.
- Optimize your heat vents
As you spend more time at home, optimize your home heating by closing off vents in rooms that you’re not using regularly. This way, you and your family members can remain comfortable while reducing how often your furnace needs to kick in.
- Wrap your electric water heater
Every day, your water heater is working to keep water hot and ready for your use. A simple way to reduce energy consumption is by applying a hot water tank blanket (please note: this applies to electric water heaters only). These blankets can reduce heat loss by up to 40 per cent and can be found at a local hardware store.
- Light your home with LEDs
The next time lightbulbs in your home burn out, replace them with LEDs. LEDs use 70 to 90 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs and have much longer lifespans.
Everyone’s energy needs are different and are continually evolving which is why it’s also good news that you can switch your electricity rate plan at any time.
As we kick-off the new year, we hope these tips will help you achieve greater savings on your energy footprint.