As the mercury continues to drop, families across the GTA begin to haul the heavy coats, mitts, toques and scarves out of storage. Preparing our bodies for the harsh Canadian is always a tedious task and a sad reminder of the cold months that lay ahead.
Just like our bodies, our houses need special attention during cold winter months. We all know that heating costs go up this time of year; however, there are steps we can take to save money as well as make our homes more energy efficient. Toronto Property Managers and Landlords, in particular, are faced with challenges, as we might have multiple properties to care for as well as tenants that need to comply with our energy saving initiative.
Some ways to save on energy costs in the winter are simple and require minor changes to habits while others may involve the purchase and installation of energy efficient units.
In Toronto, heating can account for up to 60 per cent of your electricity bill.
The following tips can help save you a lot of money, while not compromising the comfort level in your home.
- Replace your old thermostat with a programmable one to manage your heating automatically. Energy savings will quickly pay for the cost of the thermostat in the first year.
- When we’re sleeping or not home, a lot of energy goes into heating rooms that are not occupied. By setting the thermostat to 18°C when you’re asleep and –20°C when you’re not home, you can reduce heating costs by up to 10 per cent.
- How long have you had your furnace? Take a look at the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. The higher the rating, the more efficient the model. If it’s not up to snuff, replace it. You can receive a $250 credit from the Save ONenergy HEATING & COOLING INCENTIVE.
- Once you have an efficient furnace, make sure to maintain it properly. Furnaces that are well-maintained run at full efficiency take less energy to run and can save you heaps on your energy bill. Clean or replace the filter monthly and have it serviced by a licenced HVAC professional once a year.
- Draft space? Air leakage can account for as much as 25 per cent of your total heating costs. By caulking and weatherstripping windows, doors, dryers and other vents, you can decrease air leakage significantly. Even little things like installing insulated plates on electrical outlets can make a big difference.
- Up to 25 per cent of heat loss is through windows. Older houses were with single pane windows, which are ineffective in keeping the warmth in and the cold out. As a temporary solution, plastic window covers can help reduce drafts and can be purchased at most hardware stores. You can replace the windows altogether with Low-E double paned windows. These windows contain argon gas between the panes which acts as a great insulator in both the winter and summer months. Although they can be pricey, they’re worth the investment in the long run.
- Don’t waste heat. Close doors and shut off heat registers when you’re not in the room.
- When you turn on your furnace, do not switch your thermostat to a hotter setting than you need. It will not heat the room any faster.
Increase the amount of insulation in your home to keep it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. The attic and basement represent as much as 15 – 30 per cent of your home’s overall heating and cooling losses. Make sure you add attic vents so hot air can escape.
- Let the sun shine in. During the day, keep your curtains open to heat your home naturally.
Whether you’re looking to cut costs in your home or rental property, sharing the vision with your family or tenants can be helpful. Setting habits that fall into your kids daily routine can be fun and will give them a sense of responsibility. As for your tenants, engage in conversation with them through letters, emails, or direct calls. Be sure to ask for their feedback as this will build a stronger relationship with your tenants, and will allow for higher buy-ins in future initiatives.