Green Your Routine and Save
From the Summer 2016 issue of the CCI Toronto Condovoice Magazine.
It may not seem like it, but every effort you make to reduce your energy use - no matter how big or small - does make a difference. When all of our individual efforts are combined, it can have a huge impact on the environment – and that's good for everyone.
As an Energy Expert working with the multi-unit residential building sector, this is especially true. Property managers, condo Boards and building owners work continuously with Toronto Hydro on facility upgrades to make their buildings more energy efficient and help reduce energy costs. However, despite these efforts, a typical condo's common areas use as much as 65% of a building's total electricity use. That represents a big opportunity to save more and collectively work together.
By following some simple tips around your condo and changing some habits, you can better manage your electricity bill and reduce your building's overall electricity consumption.
Air conditioning can account for up to 50% of your summer electricity bill. Try to use it only when necessary to remain comfortable. As much as possible, use it during offpeak hours. The following tips can help realize further savings:
- Install and use a programmable thermostat – During the warmer seasons, set your programmable thermostat to automatically lower the heat by a few degrees at night or when you are away. If you have air conditioning, use your programmable thermostat during the cooler months to automatically turn off or increase the temperature when you are not home. Your energy savings will easily pay for the cost of the thermostat in the first year.
- Use your A/C sparingly. When you are not home, turn your air conditioner off, but keep your ventilation fans running to circulate the cool air. You can program the thermostat to turn on just before you get home.
- Set it and forget it. Run your air conditioner just a little warmer and save up to $17.60 a month. Set your thermostat at 25°C for eight hours a day. Then shift to 22°C during off-peak hours to save.
- Don't be impatient. When you turn on air conditioning, do not set your thermostat to a colder setting than you need. It will not cool the room any faster.
- Use this shady tip. Reduce heat gain in your home by drawing blinds or shades during the day on windows facing south or west. This can reduce your air conditioning costs by up to $13.90 a month. Likewise, in colder months, you can open your blinds to warm your place.
- Be a fan of savings. Use fans instead of air conditioning whenever possible. Ceiling and portable fans cost pennies to operate and can lower the temperature in the room by up to 2°C. Fans can also help circulate stagnant air.
- Check for drafts. Check the windows and the hallway door to your unit to make sure they are draft proofed. If the windows are not properly weatherproofed, talk to your property manager to see if you can work together on a solution that saves energy and reduces heating and cooling costs.
Shift Your Use to Off-Peak
As much as you can, shift the use of major appliances to off-peak hours, which are 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays, and all day weekends and statutory holidays. The cost difference between on-peak and off-peak is 50% – that is a big saving for a little shift!
- Switch your laundry routine. Save approximately $6.60 a month by shifting your laundry to off-peak times. This includes washer (cold water) and dryer, for four loads.
- Put a lid on it. While cooking up your next masterpiece, use lids on your pots to reduce energy consumption by up to 14%. • No more dish issues. Save around $2.40 a month when you shift your dishwashing from on-peak to off-peak hours. (Savings do not include water and assume four loads per week).
- Get creative with your cooking. If you have an electric stove and oven, try shifting their use to off-peak. When possible, use a microwave or toaster oven. A microwave uses up to 50% less electricity than an electric stove.
- Dry season. Let your dishes air dry rather than electric dry and save another $2.30 a month. (Based on four loads per week, not including water.)
- Use your appliances wisely. Make sure you are using all of your dishwasher's energy-saving features. For easy-toclean loads, use the light or short cycle. Always wait until the dishwasher is full before you run it.
- Do your research. If you are looking for a new major appliance, read the Ener- Guide label and comparison-shop for the most energy-efficient model. The lower the kWh rating, the better the efficiency. Look for ENERGY STAR® qualified models. ENERGY STAR® is an international symbol that identifies many energy-efficient products and helps consumers identify products that are at the "top of their class" in terms of energy efficiency. Did you know an ENERGY STAR® fridge is 20% more efficient than a non-qualified model?
- Out with the old – refrigerators and freezers are two of the biggest electricity users in your home – these old, inefficient appliances can cost well over $10/ month in electricity. When purchasing a new one, be sure to check the Ener- Guide label and look for the ENERGY STAR® symbol so you're certain of energy savings when making your buying decision.
Use Hot Water Effectively
Water heating costs can be a substantial portion of your total bill. Use these tips to reduce your costs:
- Give your clothes the cold treatment. About 25% of all household hot water is used for clothes washing. Use cold water washing and rinsing wherever possible. Cold water rinsing can save you enough energy for about 100 hot baths or 220 showers per year. However, when you do use hot water washing, be sure to set the water level to match the load. If you currently both wash and rinse in warm water, and you switch entirely to cold, you could save over $14 a month (based on electric water heating). There are many laundry detergents designed specifically for cold water washing.
- Hang it up. Reduce your electricity costs by using a clothesline or drying rack to dry your clothes (in accordance with any restrictions surrounding such that apply to your condominium).
- Tap into more savings. Fix leaky taps. A tap dripping at one drop per second wastes 800 litres of water per month. Usually the cause is just a worn-out washer, which is cheap and easy to replace.
- Go with the flow. An energy-efficient showerhead can reduce your hot water use by up to 30%. In one year, you can save over 28,000 litres of water. You can still get brisk showers, and save a significant amount on your electricity bill. A low-flow showerhead can cut hot water use almost in half without sacrificing water pressure. Look for a showerhead with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), or 9.5 litres per minute (l/min).
- Faucet fix. Install faucet aerators on your sink faucets to lower water flow. Aerators mix air into the water flow and reduce water consumption by 25 – 50% per tap.
- Hurry up. Quick showers use less hot water than baths. A typical bath uses about 75 litres of hot water, while a 5-minute shower with an energy-efficient showerhead uses less than half of that.
More Saving Tips
Upgrade your lighting to LEDs - Today's LEDs have come down in price, so they pay off faster in savings. They use up to 75% less electricity and last longer, which means less time spent replacing bulbs. The new generation LEDs last four to nine times longer than incandescents, are reliable, come in a wide variety of colours and styles and stay cool.
Take Advantage of Energy Efficiency Coupons
It is easy to save energy with coupons for a range of must-have energy-saving products, including: LED bulbs, dimmer switches, light fixtures, motion sensors, timers, power bars, programmable thermostats and ceiling fans. Save energy, stay comfortable and keep your home looking better for less. Download coupons at torontohydro. com/coupons.
Once you have transformed your suite into an energy-efficient oasis, you might want to consider forming a Condo Green Team with other residents to find ways to reduce energy waste throughout the building and learn which investments will pay back quickly. A typical building earmarks about 40% of operating budget for utilities, so improving the efficiency of your building can have a big impact on overall costs. This can lead to other benefits too — like reduced maintenance, and increased resident comfort and safety.
These tips are especially important during warmer months, when electricity bills tend to be higher. For more energy efficiency tips and to download your energy efficiency coupons, visit torontohydro.com/ conservation.
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