Embarking on the mission to reduce the amount of energy you use may seem like a daunting task, but it's actually pretty easy if you break down the goal into a bunch of tiny habits. Once accumulated, each of these small practices can dramatically impact the amount of money you spend on utilities each month, especially during the cold months. The hardest part is always getting started, so begin your winter saving journey today by integrating these little tips and tricks into your everyday life.
Effectively Manage Your Thermostat
It may seem counterintuitive, but over adjusting your thermostat can actually cost you more in the long run. Your system has to work extra hard to rapidly warm a house cranked up from a cold to hot temperature, as opposed to adjusting for moderate in betweens. Avoid these drastic adjustments, and give your home time to slowly warm. As always, put succinctly by Enercare, "the smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperature, the lower your heating bill will be," so when possible, layer up, grab a blanket, and get cozy!
In most apartments, the primary source of cold air comprising the heat system's efficacy is outside air leaking in through windows. These annoying drafts can be easily remedied with sealing tape or removeable draft blockers, available at any hardware store. A lesser known cold air culprit is electric outlets. If your outlets feel particularly cold, take a tip from moving,com and pick up some plastic plugs to seal unused outlets and keep outside air from coming in.
Address Sources of Phantom Power
Phantom power, or energy used by plugged in devices not in active use, is often a secret offender unnecessarily driving up energy bills. Cordless phones, gaming consoles, power strips, microwaves, toasters, TVs, and all of the other tools that appear to be "off" while plugged in are virtually always sucking up power by virtue of just being plugged in. Chip away at this seemingly monolithic issue by making a habit of turning off the switches on power strips not in use; get in the practice of unplugging your toaster immediately after your morning toast; unplug your devices once fully charged; only plug in your printer when you need to print something; and always unplug your devices when going away for extended periods of time. You'll be shocked at how much these little habits can save you (and the environment) in the long run!
Save Water in the Washroom
Be sure to meet yourself where you are, and find small ways to integrate resource-saving into your daily life. A warm bath on a cold day is a special luxury, but if you find yourself taking frequent baths, consider swapping a few of your soaks for a quicker, less water-intensive shower. Finally, don't run water while brushing your teeth or washing your face, and be sure to address all leaks and persistent drips as soon as possible.
Remove Blockages From Heat Sources
This is probably the simplest tip of all, but seldom the most implemented. Create the circumstances most conducive to heat circulation in your apartment, by removing as many blockages as possible from in front of your heater. For example, situating your couch in front of a radiator keeps the air from circulating freely throughout the room, forcing the radiator to work extra hard to pump out warm air. Not only are you helping your heating bill, you also eliminate a major fire hazard — a true win-win.
Keep Hardwood Floors Covered in Carpets
Carpets are a great ally in the pursuit of warmth in the cold months, especially for those of us with hardwood flooring in our apartments. Not only will your feet stay warmer walking around on a carpeted surface, but rugs also keep your overall apartment warmer by providing a form of insulation. This is particularly important in doorway entrances, especially because moisture being tracked in from snow outside can erode your wood floors.
Save Energy in the Kitchen
As a site with many appliances that can't be unplugged, such as the fridge and stove, saving energy in the kitchen can be a little bit more difficult than in other zones of your apartment. However, there are still small everyday practices you can adopt while cooking that make a big difference. Mashable advises that you keep the freezer packed tightly; this keeps your freezer from constantly having to cool new warm air each time you open the freezer door. Try to thaw out frozen foods in your fridge, rather than using up excess energy warming them up from being frozen solid. Lastly, when you can, take a tip from Ontario Tenants and use your smaller appliances for small tasks, rather than larger ones. Microwaves and microwave ovens use less energy than the oven or stove; electric kettles use less than stovetop ones. These little choices add up over long periods of time.
Opt for LED Twinkle Lights
If you plan on busting out some twinkly lights to help achieve that hygge holiday mood (and check out our holiday decorating blog if you don't know what hygge is!), be sure to pick your string of lights carefully. LED lights consume approximately 80-90% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and on average last 33% longer. LEDs are also safer, less hot, and easier to manage/install than their incandescent counterparts.