Powersmart Tips



Turn your thermostat down at night or when you’re not home

Making up about 50% of your energy bill, heating is the single largest use of energy in most homes. Controlling the thermostat is one of the easiest and most economical ways to control your energy costs. The lower the temperature you set for heating, the more money you will save. Setting the thermostat back from 21° C to 16° C at night can result in energy savings of up to ten per cent. In addition to turning down the thermostat at night or when you are away from home, below are some suggested thermostat settings that will provide comfort and avoid overheating. If you can adjust to cooler temperatures (perhaps with a blanket or sweater), lower the thermostat even further.
  • Sitting reading or watching TV 21° C (70° F)
  • Working around the house 20° C (68° F)
  • Sleeping 16° C (61° F)
  • No one is home 16° C (61° F)
Alternately, you could consider installing a programmable thermostat, which remembers to adjust the temperature for you.

Doesn’t it cost more to heat the home up from a colder temperature? Will I really save any energy?

Actually, it’s a common misconception that a furnace works harder than normal to warm your home to a comfortable temperature after the thermostat has been set back, resulting in little or no savings. However, years of research and a number of studies have disproved this myth. The energy needed to reheat a building is approximately equal to the energy that was saved when the building temperature first dropped. You save energy between the time that the temperature stops at the lower level and the next time the heat is turned up. Therefore, the longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you save. Considering that heating makes up a large portion of your energy costs, lowering your thermostat can make for significant savings on your bill.  


Use ceiling fans to keep yourself cool

Unlike air conditioning, ceiling fans don’t cool the room. Instead, they move air downward which creates a cooling effect upon people in the room. The movement of air increases the rate at which moisture evaporates from the skin, which makes people feel cooler. Fans achieve this cooling effect while using significantly less energy than air conditioning.

Use ceiling fans to keep yourself warm

In cold weather, use ceiling fans to increase your comfort. Set the fan to drive air upward to break up the heat that rises and collects against the ceiling. By creating a more consistent temperature in the room, the thermostat may not need to be set as high. Due to rising energy costs and increasing customer conservation awareness, ceiling fan use is now on the upswing. Ceiling fans are available in a wide variety of styles, and can also enhance room decor.  

General Tips for Heating

If you’re cold, put on a sweater or use a blanket

Instead of turning up the thermostat, you might be more comfortable by putting on extra clothes when you are cold. This will help you save in the largest energy consuming area of your home.

Put rugs on cold floors

If your feet are cold, your body will likely feel cold and you may turn up the heat. By placing area rugs on cold floors, you may be less likely to crank the thermostat.

Close the damper when the fireplace is not in use

A chimney is designed to let smoke escape without staying inside your living space. Given that, it shouldn’t surprise you to hear that an open damper will carry the warm air right out of your home. Make sure it is completely closed when it’s not in use. If you have a chimney in your home that is not being used, consider sealing it completely. A makeshift foam plug will help reduce heat loss and can be removed if the fireplace will be used again (you may want to hang a flag down from the plug to remind you that it’s in place).  



Save electricity by using your fridge more efficiently

Refrigerators are among the largest energy-consuming appliances in the home. Using them efficiently will help you save money.

Close the door

Possibly the easiest thing you can do to save energy with your fridge is to make sure that the door is not left open. By opening the door infrequently and for short periods of time, you will reduce the energy the fridge uses to keep food cold.

Don’t overfill your fridge

Be careful about overfilling your refrigerator, as this may prevent air from circulating properly. Improper air circulation may cause your fridge to run inefficiently, which can use more electricity.

Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator

If you thaw frozen items in the fridge instead of on your counter, you are easing the workload on the fridge’s cooling system.

Stay out of the sun

Refrigerators work hard to keep items cold. It makes sense not to put them near sources of heat (such as the sun) which will cause them to work harder, because this costs you more money.  


Use your freezer more efficiently to save energy

Freezers can use a significant amount of energy. Using them wisely will help you save money.

Close the door

One of the easiest things you can do to save energy with your freezer is to keep the door closed as much as possible. By opening the door infrequently and for short periods of time, you will reduce the energy the freezer uses to keep food cold.

Keep it full

Full freezers operate more efficiently than empty ones. Also, they are affected less when the door is opened because there is less uncontained air to escape. If your freezer isn’t full, fill plastic containers with water and put them inside. The frozen water will also help keep food frozen in the event of a power outage. Empty cardboard boxes can also be put at the bottom of a chest freezer to help fill empty space.

Stay out of the sun

Freezers work hard to keep items cold, so you shouldn’t keep them near sources of heat (such as the sun). Outside heat sources cause freezers to work harder, which costs you more money.  


Adjust your cooking habits to save electricity

There are a number of things you can do to save electricity in the kitchen.

Cook using the smallest appliance that can do the job

Why use a full-size oven when a microwave or toaster oven will do? Smaller appliances can get the job done while using less energy, especially when cooking smaller meals. On a related topic, steamers and pot dividers allow you to cook multiple vegetables at once to reduce the number of cooking devices needed.

Use the right pot

Choose a pot that covers the burner completely. If the burner is larger than the base of the pot, unnecessary energy will be wasted. Using a lid over the pot will decrease cooking times and save energy.

Oven etiquette

Try not to open the oven door unless it is absolutely necessary, because heat will rapidly escape out the door. The window on the door and the light inside your oven are there to help you check on your food without opening the door. If you are using an electric oven, keep preheating time to a minimum. Preheating is typically only necessary when baking. When cooking, the time spent preheating could be spent cooking your food. Also, you can often turn off the oven before the cooking time is complete, because the residual heat will finish cooking the dish. You can usually turn the heat off about 5 minutes before the cooking time is up. Plan your cooking to heat multiple dishes in the oven, while the oven is still hot. If you are really keen, you can cook more than one meal and freeze the extra servings. This saves energy and cooking time. Try to cook foods that require the highest temperature first, because this will save the energy needed to warm up the oven again. If you are going to use the self-cleaning feature on your oven, activate it immediately after cooking. This way the over will still be hot and the cleaning feature will use less energy.  


Save electricity by using your dishwasher more efficiently

The way you use your dishwasher can affect the amount of energy it uses.

Use energy-saving wash cycles

Most dishwashers have various wash cycles you can select. The energy-saving feature helps you use less water and save energy.

Use the “no-heat” dry feature

Most dishwashers have a built-in electric heating element that bakes dishes dry. The “no-heat” dry feature circulates room air through the dishwasher. If your dishwasher does not have this feature, turn the dishwasher off after the final rinse and open the door to air dry.

Wash only full loads

The dishwasher will use the same amount of water if it is half empty or completely full. Load dishes until the machine is full, according to manufacturer’s directions. This will allow for optimum performance.

Don’t pre-rinse

Some people rinse their dishes in the sink before putting them in the dishwasher. Don’t bother! It will save more water and energy if you simply scrape excess food off plates and cutlery. Your dishwasher is designed to take care of the rest.

Clean the filter

Regularly clean the filter at the bottom of your dishwasher to keep it running efficiently. If you are buying a new dishwasher, choose an ENERGY STAR® labelled model.  

Clothes Washer

Save electricity by using your clothes washer more efficiently

The way you use your clothes washer can affect the amount of energy that it uses.

Wash full loads

The clothes washer will use less energy to wash one full load than multiple smaller loads. Load clothes until the machine is full, according to manufacturer’s directions. If you must wash clothes with a less than full load, adjust the water setting accordingly.

Use energy-saving or economy wash cycles

Most clothes washers have various wash cycles you can select. The energy-saving feature helps you use less water and save energy.

Separate heavily soiled clothes from lightly soiled ones

By separating the heavily soiled clothes, you can adjust the wash cycle to match the cleaning needs of the load. This will ensure that the clothes are washed properly using the minimum energy required.

Wash your clothes in cold water

The single most important thing you can do to reduce the energy consumption of your clothes washer is wash in cold water. Water heating accounts for 90% of the energy consumption of washing machines and washing machines are capable of cleaning with great results in cooler water temperatures. If you are buying a new clothes washer, choose an ENERGY STAR® labelled model.  

Clothes Dryer

Save electricity by using your clothes dryer more efficiently

An electric clothes dryer typically uses the most electricity of any appliance in a home. The way you operate your clothes dryer can affect the amount of energy that it uses.

Clean the lint filter after every load

The lint filter should be cleaned after every load in the dryer. This will improve the efficiency and extend the lifespan of the dryer by ensuring maximum air circulation.

Use the cool-down feature

The cool-down setting allows your clothes to finish drying using the residual heat in the dryer. Note that this setting isn’t helpful if you are drying multiple loads.

Dry multiple loads consecutively

If you are doing more than one load of laundry, dry each new load immediately after the previous load ends (with the cool-down feature turned off). This will reduce the energy required to reheat the dryer.

Avoid over-drying your clothes

Load your dryer with similar clothing types to prevent over drying. Over-drying your clothes wastes unnecessary energy and often damages them. Over-dried clothes may also require more ironing than properly dried clothes.

Use the automatic moisture sensor

If your clothes dryer has an automatic moisture sensor, make sure it is turned on to prevent your clothes from over-drying. Choose a model with a moisture sensor if you are purchasing a new dryer.

Don’t overload the dryer

Overloading the dryer doesn’t give the clothes enough room to tumble, which will increase the time it takes for them to dry.

Throw in a dry towel

When drying heavy loads, adding a dry towel may reduce the time needed to dry the clothes. The towel will absorb excess moisture as the clothes dry. Don’t add wet items to a partially dry load, as the increased moisture will slow the drying process for all the items.

Check your dryer vent periodically

Make sure that your dryer vent is clear of debris, which will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers typically recommend using rigid venting material instead of plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages.

Air-dry your clothes to save electricity

An electric clothes dryer typically uses the most electricity of any appliance in a home. Reduce the energy your dryer consumes by air drying your clothes whenever possible. An outdoor clothes line uses heat from the sun and the flow of air to dry your clothes. An indoor clothes rack may take longer to dry, but it is an energy efficient alternative to the clothes dryer. Be careful to avoid humidity problems if you dry your clothes indoors during the winter months.  


Phantom Load – Unplugging Electronics

Unplug your charger when the device is not connected

This rule applies to power adapters for any devices that have chargers (laptops, digital cameras, MP3 players). When a power adapter is plugged in, it continues to draw energy even if it is not connected to a device. Have you ever noticed that an adapter is warm to the touch when it is plugged in, even when it is not charging anything? This is because many adapters draw at least one watt of electricity all the time. An easy way to limit standby power loss is to plug all electronics into one or more power bars that can easily be switched off when the electronics are not being used.  


Turn off the TV when no one is watching it

Turning off the TV, DVD player and stereo when not in use will save you energy and money. Make sure you turn off your electronics when you’re not using them.  


Turn off your computer, monitor and peripherals (e.g. printer, scanner) when they are not in use

Much of the energy use associated with computers is wasted because PCs are often left on when they are not being used. One of the most important things you can do to reduce energy consumption is to turn your equipment off when it is not in use. The notion that computers consume large amounts of energy when starting up is a myth. Similarly, it is false that constant start-ups damage computer components. It is more cost-effective to shut the computer down when you are finished using it, and doing so also reduces wear on your system. Learn more about your computer’s energy settings in the to dos section.

Turn off your energy guzzling monitor

Monitors use up to 75% of the energy powering your computer. If you must leave your computer on while it is not being used, it makes sense to turn off any monitors or display devices. Remember that a screen saver does not reduce energy consumption.

Turn off your peripherals

Turn off your peripherals, such as printers or scanners, when they are not in use. Such devices are typically left on for extended periods of time but are active for only a small percentage of it. For this reason, conventional printers often waste a significant amount of energy. Newer devices use less energy when in standby mode, but you should always turn your equipment off to save electricity.

A laptop computer uses up to 90% less energy than a desktop

A typical laptop computer has a maximum power consumption of 15 watts and extensive power management capabilities. A typical desktop PC, with display, consumes about 10 times that, or 150 watts, and has less-effective power management features. The potential energy savings from substituting PCs with portable laptops are significant, particularly if you don’t plug the laptop into a separate display monitor. If you have the choice between using a laptop or desktop computer, use the laptop to save energy.  


Use daylight to illuminate your house

Natural daylight from windows and skylights provide a free light source, which may allow you to reduce the number of lights you turn on inside your home. Unshaded windows can affect the temperature inside your home, providing an opportunity for even greater energy savings.

Open the blinds on south- and north- facing windows

South-facing windows are most advantageous for day-lighting and for moderating seasonal temperatures because they allow the most winter sunlight into the home but little direct sun during the summer, especially when properly shaded. North-facing windows are also effective for day-lighting because they admit relatively even light, produce little glare and allow little unwanted summer heat gain. Although east and west facing windows provide good daylight penetration in the morning and evening, respectively, they are less effective. East and west facing windows may cause glare, admit a lot of heat during the summer when it is usually not wanted, and they contribute little to solar heating during the winter. Don’t forget to consider how using daylight might affect your home’s heating.

Use task lighting when appropriate

You can lower your overall energy consumption by concentrating light where you need it rather than illuminating an entire room. Task lighting is generally useful where work is being carried out in a small area, such as at a desk or in a workshop.

Turn the lights out when you don’t need them

We’ve all heard this one before, but remembering to turn out the lights can have a powerful effect on your electricity consumption. Lighting in your home accounts for 5% to 10% of your total energy use. By making it a habit to turn off the lights when you leave a room, you can contribute to conservation while lowering the total cost of your electricity bill.

Automatic lighting controls

One of the simplest ways to ensure your lights are out when you don’t need them is to install automatic lighting controls in your home, such as timers or motion sensors (more information is available in the to dos section). Two way switches (if the room has more than one point of entry) can also help make it easier for people to turn out the lights.

Use the lowest wattage light needed to adequately light an area

When putting in a light bulb, choose the lowest wattage bulb that will provide the amount of light that you need. (If you install a higher wattage bulb, you are paying for the excess light that you don’t require) LED lights are by far the most efficient and long lasting choice. An ENERGY STAR LED bulb could save up to $100 in electricity over its lifetime vs. a comparable incandescent bulb. LED’s come in a variety of size and wattage options to fit almost any lighting situation. Don’t forget to replace your incandescent light bulbs and halogen torchieres with compact fluorescent models.

Avoid controlling too many lights with a single switch

If a number of lights are turned on with a single switch, lights may be using electricity in areas that are not being used. When planning room lighting, limit the number of lighting devices that are controlled by a single switch. Instead, choose light switches that allow for the independent control of different light fixtures.  

Hot Water

A short shower uses about half as much water as a bath

Taking a shower instead of a bath uses less water and less energy, which costs you less. Plus, if you install a low-flow showerhead you can save even more.


Use your hot water wisely

Here are some simple tips to consider when using your hot water
  • Put the plug in the sink instead of leaving the hot water running
  • Try not to use small amounts of hot water frequently. Not only does the water need to be heated, but more hot water is left in the pipe to cool down (which wastes energy)
  • If you take a bath when it’s cold outside, leave the water in the tub until it has released its heat in the house


Use your windows to take advantage of solar heat

Use the windows in your home to your advantage. In the winter, solar heat gain can help ease the demand on your heating system. Open your curtains or blinds during the day and let the sun heat up your home, free of charge. Allowing solar and radiant heat gain into your home in the winter months can help you save on your overall heating costs. In the summer, solar and radiant heat can penetrate un-shaded windows and increase the temperature in your home significantly, affecting your comfort and possibly resulting in higher costs for cooling. It is a good idea to keep east- and west-facing windows shaded during the summer months. North and south facing windows typically allow daylight to illuminate your home without allowing direct sunlight to heat it up. Awnings or a modest eave overhang can be used to shade windows in the summer to minimize unwanted heat gains even further. Using windows effectively can also reduce your lighting costs.