How to Make Your Utilities Pay You

Posted by Ryan Dutka . on Friday, January 26th, 2018 at 12:50pm.

Smart Grid is a money saver for the city and a way you can get Utilities to pay you. Soon we will be able to measure the overall energy use of your home by the second and by the penny even on a per appliance basis. It may even be possible to hook a home up with its own smart grid which will make reducing energy consumption more effective by storing saved energy as a commodity which can be used at peak times, or sold back to the utility company.

In 2010 EPCOR filed their (smart grid) design and architecture with the Alberta Utilities Commission to put this in place. As of June 2017, the smart grid is up and running! This system will monitor your usage by the hour and be able to educate you on when the peak times are so you can change your usage habits. This will save you money in the long run! You are going to see the same thing with electricity, allowing people to buy their power at off-peak times (when it is cheaper). Studies in Europe and the US have shown that when customers have access to energy-use data their consumption drops by five to 20 per cent.

Be Kind to your Utilities

What we mean by be kind to your utilities is that we have some very easy ways for you to reduce the load on the heating and cooling of your home. It is possible to monitor the active insulating effect of a home or condo by directing a hand-held infrared thermometer at various surfaces, such as windows, doors and walls, to determine how well they are preventing heat transfer.

Some quick and easy fixes before replacing these larger items is to:

  • Fit Draught excluders around all exterior doors
  • Ensure all windows are insulated by ensuring no crack or crevices are letting in cold air
  • Add window dressings to cover the window itself
  • Find any floor gaps and fill them in with silicone sealer
  • Wrap your hot water tank with a 80 millimeter jacket

The above tips will not only stop the cold from coming in, but they also help take the load off of your furnace and reduce your monthly costs. By making some small repairs to your home that cold Alberta winter can stay outside and stop creeping in through all those inefficient gaps that you haven't had a chance to fill. Also, one of the biggest ways to lose heat is through the insulation itself. If you have an older home, then take the time to inspect the insulation and have it replaced. This is definitely one of the more expensive fixes you'll have to do, but it will definitely pay off in the end!

Understand Your Utilities

While we are working on insulting our homes and filling in the gaps in the house, what else can we do to put more money in your pocket? It can start with something as simple as saving your bills and comparing consumption month to month and year to year. You'll be able to detect fluctuations in your monthly bills and take steps to better manage your usage. Until electricity, gas, or water utilities suppliers start to offer discounts for off-peak consumption, monitoring your total usage can help you save money by letting you track overall volume. Then, if rates go up, you will know your actual power and water consumption by unit measures, not merely price.

Just by saving your bills and comparing consumption month to month and year to year, you'll be able to detect fluctuations and take steps to better manage your usage. If you suspect that a certain device or activity is using more than its normal share of energy, you can buy an individual appliance monitor to measure its use and determine whether it should be replaced by a modern, more efficient unit.

Let's take a look at some easy ways that you can start saving on your utilities today:

FAUCET AERATOR

The faucet aerator can save you volumes! Faucets with aerators which allow air into the water flow have reduced water usage reportedly by as much as 20%, with no discernible change in pressure. They will need preventative measures to keep them from getting clogged from deposits. Most can be unscrewed and cleaned with an old toothbrush, or simply soaked in white vinegar.

NO TOUCH FAUCETS

No touch faucets are an everyday money saver. Just set the temperature and volume you prefer which is manually adjustable, and save volumes of water as it only flows as you need it. It is not likely that while shaving, brushing teeth, washing our fruits and vegetables or rinsing dinner plates, we will keep turning on and off the faucet, instead we let it run. There are also health benefits to these no touch faucets as well. Hands are known to be a major source of infection transfer, and turning on your taps before you wash your hands and then turning the faucet off after washing them, just means that you pick up the germs you left behind before washing.

FREEZERS

When you open the door to your freezer all the cold air which goes out now has to be chilled again. This turns on the motor and wastes electricity. So, if you have a partially filled freezer, fill the empty freezer space with plastic bottles half-filled with water. This fills the extra space that reduces the amount of work that fridge motor has to do to cold things back down again.

DRYERS

Clothes dryers operate most efficiently on full loads. Sort your clothes so that you use the right amount of heat for the right amount of time to match the load in the dryer. Do an extra spin on your wash cycle for heavy clothes making them mostly dry before they go into the dryer. Keep the lint filters clean and the air vents clear, which will save you even more money.

DISHWASHERS

Your fully loaded dishwasher will likely use less energy than washing dishes by hand if you use the optional non-heat air dry cycle and an automatic timer. Remember to not use a temperature above 50 Celsius.

All these tips may seem obvious, but if we are not reminded of the ways to save energy, then we can't possibly make our utilities pay us. They say it take 3 weeks before a routine task becomes habit. So print this blog and put it on the fridge as a reminder to start putting some of these energy saving tips into action. As for the insulation of the home and the draught repairs, these may require you to hire someone to come in and do the fixes professionally depending on your DIY level of expertise. Be sure to make the call or do the repairs before the winter continues to creep its way into your house and push up your bills. What may cost you a bit of money initially will save you money in the long run!

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