Have you ever wondered about how you can reduce your energy usage to lower your energy bill each month? Well, a home that utilizes green technology does just that. Green homes require less energy to function everyday, leading to less energy wasted.
Not only will creating a home that is energy efficient save you plenty of money on your energy bills, but there are also home rebate options in British Columbia that you can apply for. Here are our five ways you can reduce your energy usage in your home.
1. Switch to ENERGY STAR® appliances
One of the easiest changes you can make is simply switching out your inefficient appliances for ENERGY STAR® rated alternatives. These appliances are built to use the least amount of energy to accomplish a task. From washing machines and dryers to refrigerators, freezers, and dishwashers, you can find an energy efficient version of pretty much every appliance.
The most energy usage in a home typically comes from heating water. Find an energy efficient water heater and start looking for ENERGY STAR® alternatives to replace your inefficient appliances. Switch to using cold water more often in your washers and make sure your dishwasher is full before you turn it on — optimizing when you use your hot water will help you save money and use less energy.
Using heat to dry dishes in the dishwasher or for your clothes in the dryer also uses quite a bit of energy. While it may feel a bit old-fashioned, air drying your clothes and dishes will reduce your energy usage and your monthly bill as well.
2. Seal your home with a proper building envelope
Updating and maintaining your windows, seals, ventilation, heating, and cooling systems will optimize the energy usage of the heating and cooling of your home. The primary goal of your heating and cooling system is to keep the heat in and the cold out, vice versa depending on the season.
To accomplish this, you need to seal your home’s building envelope. Make sure your home has proper insulation and the seals around your doors and windows are still doing their job. An airtight home will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Old windows allow hot and cold air to leach out, keeping your furnace or air conditioner running all day to maintain a certain temperature. Replace any old windows with newer, more efficient variations that have proper seals and panes.
3. Upgrade your lighting infrastructure
Whether you have incandescent or fluorescent bulbs in your home, LED lights are unrivalled for energy efficiency. Even though they have a higher initial investment, LED bulbs last 15-20 times longer than incandescents and 3 times longer than fluorescents while using 75% less energy to function. Because of their long lifespan, LEDs require less maintenance and end up saving you money.
Perfect for the long-term planners out there, you can optimize your energy savings by converting all of your lights to LED right away. Over the next few months, check your energy bill and see how much of a difference it makes. Not only will your energy bill be smaller, but your initial investment into switching to LED lights will be paid off quite soon — plus, you won’t have to replace them as often.
Another option is replacing your incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with LED lights as they burn out. This will spread out the initial investment cost and you will see the same savings over time.
4. Building automation for your home
Having the ability to customize various systems within your home to line-up with your lifestyle will further reduce your energy usage, improve your comfort, increase security, and more. With an automated home, you can set timers on pretty much anything.
Do you wake up at 6am, 7am? Set your lights to turn on right when you normally wake up so you don’t have to stumble around looking for the light switch. You can also set all of your lights to turn off right when you leave for work or at night when you go to bed so you don’t accidentally leave any on for too long.
Maybe you get home at 5pm after work, Monday to Friday. Now that it is getting colder, set your heating system to turn off when you leave for work and turn on 10-15 minutes before you get home so you come home to a normal temperature without having to leave your heating system running all day long.
From your interior and exterior lighting infrastructure to your heating and cooling systems, there are plenty of ways to automate your home and make it more efficient, comfortable, and less costly.
5. Apply for home rebates and government grants
Whether you’re a BC Hydro or FortisBC customer, there are home rebate options available that can save you thousands of dollars on energy efficient improvements to your home. These range from home renovation rebates and new-build rebates including incentives to improve your space heating, water heating, building envelope, add energy efficient appliances, and many more.
If you’re working on any home renovation projects or a new-build, be sure to check out BC Hydro and FortisBC rebate options so you can plan accordingly. While BC Hydro and FortisBC have differences in their rebate options, energy efficiency is paramount. For a full chart of BC Hydro’s home rebate options, click here.
There are additional rebate options from the provincial government as well. CleanBC is a provincial incentive program for homeowners and businesses to improve their energy efficiency — this is a win-win situation.
The province saves energy while the homeowner or business saves money each month on their energy bill and receives rebate rewards from the provincial government for implementing energy efficient solutions. Look for any rebate options that may be applicable to you with this handy, online rebate search tool from CleanBC.
Bonus: Get an energy efficient home in the first place
Before jumping into a real estate venture, be sure to inform your REALTOR® that energy efficiency is important to you. More information on what kind of home you’re looking for will help your REALTOR® narrow down the list of homes to evaluate so you both don’t waste your time.
A newly built home will have been constructed following the most up-to-date building codes. You should still get a home inspection before purchasing a house, but newly built homes will be more energy efficient.
Perhaps a new-build is your best option but you simply don’t know where to look. A REALTOR® stays up-to-date on current market trends and will know where you can afford, what will fit your specifications, and will set up a showing for you.
Reduce your energy usage and save money
Simply switch some bulbs to LED, find ENERGY STAR® appliances, do proper renovations to seal off your building envelope, automate your home, research some home rebate options that are applicable to your situation, and inform your REALTOR® that you are looking for an energy efficient home.
Pick your battles. No matter what stage you are at in your home, there are many ways for you to improve your energy usage. Whether you’re building a new home, renovating your current one, or looking for a newly constructed home with your REALTOR®, there are always ways to improve your energy efficiency and save some money on your energy bills.