How to Save Money on Hydro:
Check out these 15 awesome tricks and strategies to reduce your household’s energy consumption and keep more money in your wallet! (Part I of II)
There’s no doubt about it. Hydro is expensive. Where I live in Canada, the price of hydro has continued to increase exponentially in the past decade and there’s no indication it’ll go anywhere but up.
As we move into the colder months in my part of the world, many people start to become hyper aware of their hydro usage. It’s a new year, and a perfect time to start some new money-saving habits! Check out these easy ways to save money on hydro this winter and keep your hard-earned cash in your pocket.
How to Save Money on Hydro – Part I
Even though my fiance and I own a house we can comfortably afford the mortgage payments on, we also work hard at keeping our other monthly living costs down. Along with saving money on groceries and carefully controlling our spending, a huge factor is limiting our energy use.
My brother-in-law’s dad is a contractor, so we had him come in to inspect our house for energy efficiency before we closed on the deal. He tends to the critical side so we knew he was going to be brutally honest with us, and our house passed the test!
Knowing our house had a furnace that was running efficiently and good insulation in the walls, windows, and roof, we were already ahead of the game for squeezing every penny out of our hydro usage. With that said, we still exercise tons of habits that help shave mad dollahz off our hydro bill.
So here’s my list of Pennywise energy-saving tips for how to save money on hydro. Keep in mind we use these habits to reduce energy output on a freestanding house, but many of the tips are still super helpful if you live in a townhouse, condo, or apartment where you’re responsible for your own hydro bill!
There are so many awesome ways to save money on hydro that I’ve broken them down into 2 separate posts for you. Keep an eye out for Part II, coming next week!
Part I: Get SMART
1) Replace ALL your old halogen or florescent bulbs with LED bulbs. When we moved into our new house in August 2016, every light in the house was halogen. I went to Home Depot and blew about $200 on LED bulbs for every light socket and lamp, and that investment paid for itself in energy savings within 6 months. These bulbs last on average for 15 years! Do the math. If you won’t be staying in your house or apartment for that long, you can always take the bulbs with you!
2) Buy a smart thermostat. My brother and his husband are home energy efficiency gurus. They are engineers by trade and it’s a weird specialty of theirs. As a housewarming gift my bro bought us a programmable thermostat (about $75 on sale), which also paid for itself less than a year later. This super cool piece of tech allows us to program when we want our heat or air conditioning to kick in and what temperature we want it set at for any time of day.
Here’s a breakdown of its weekday habit during the winter months:
5am: We have it set to kick the furnace up to 21 degrees celsius (70 fahrenheit) so the house has an hour or two to warm up before we get out of bed in the morning. Brrr!
9am: It then drops the heat back down to 19 degrees C (66 fahrenheit) when we’ve left the house for work. Our dog has a warm fur coat and a bed with blankets, so she’s totally fine at 19 degrees.
5pm: It kicks back up to 21 degrees in preparation for us coming home.
10pm: Drops to 19 degrees again around the time we head to bed.
Here is our program for the summer months:
9am: Temperature warms up to 24C/75F (usually meaning the air conditioning kicks in a few times throughout the day just to take the edge off the heat).
4pm: AC kicks in to cool the house off to 23C/73F in preparation for us getting home from work all sweaty and dreaming of a cold beer!
9pm-9am: Temperature lowers to 22C/71F for sleeping. We are both hot sleepers and find this the most comfortable. It then stays cool while we’re running around getting ready for work in the morning!
Obviously if we are both on holiday and at home, we adjust this program accordingly to keep ourselves comfortable. We also have the program set so that we aren’t freezing when we’re at home on winter weekends. It’s a fantastic system that helps you really only pay for the hydro usage you need, when you need it!
Our house also came with a hot tub. Bonus, right?! OMG. We would never pay for one but it was pretty sweet that it came with the house. We were worried it might be a big energy sucker but it’s only 3 years old so it’s very energy efficient, and we keep it on ‘sleep’ mode at a cooler temperature when we aren’t using it. We thought it would cost us about $40 extra per month to own the hot tub and have been pleasantly surprised that it’s only costing about $10.
3) Check your insulation. Spend the money to have an expert come in to assess your home’s insulation. If this is your forever (or forever-ish) home, it’s worth the investment to replace windows, doors or attic/wall insulation. Insufficient insulation is allowing heat and air conditioning (and money!) to escape your home like water through a strainer.
If you can’t afford any insulation renos at the moment, use caulking, weather stripping, and window plastic in the meantime to help keep energy in your house and cash in your bank account.
4) Abide by your region’s time-of-use schedules if you have them. Where I live, our local hydro supplier charges different rates for energy use at different times of day. They refer to these time brackets as Peak, Mid-Peak and Off-Peak. Energy use is more expensive during the 9-5 hours when businesses are all in full swing and sucking energy off the grid (Peak). It’s at its cheapest from 7pm through to 7am and on weekends and holidays. Check it out:
So we use our energy strategically to pay the least amount we can on our hydro bill. We save turning on our dishwasher or running a nice hot bath until after 7pm, and do all our laundry and weekly cooking sprees on the weekend. In the spring, summer and into the fall, I also kick it old school and hang our laundry on a laundry line in our backyard to save money on the dryer cycle. As you’ll see from #2 above, we try to line up our smart thermostat with this Peak/Mid-Peak/Off-Peak rhythm too!
Our hydro company also allows you to check out how you’re doing with the time-of-use schedule and compare your habits and hydro costs to your neighbours. I may be a dorky penny-pincher but I find it fun to look at the breakdown month by month and go “Heeyyyyyy look at October! We were rockin’ it! Look how cheap that sh*t was!” or “What the hell were were doing in December? We need to do better next month.” You can even view the day-by-day and hour-by-hour use, so we see spikes when we were using a lot of energy. It’s usually on a Sunday when the oven was on all day during a cooking spree, or when we caught up on 18 loads of neglected laundry.
If your region has a time-of-use or similar system, take FULL advantage of it! We don’t allow it to become an obsession in our household, but it certainly helps us to be aware of our energy use and definitely minimizes our bill. Why pay more than you have to?
5) Be mindful and deliberate. In the same vein as #4, work on being more aware of your energy usage. Ask yourself these questions:
How many times a day are you running your dishwasher? Do you need to? Can you fit more dishes into one load, or wash large pots or pans using a little bit of water in the sink?
How often do you use your washing machine? Could some of those loads be fuller?
Could any of your clothes hang to dry on a clothesline or drying rack?
Are your appliances old energy-suckers?
Do you leave lights on in rooms your aren’t occupying?
Do you leave your computer running on sleep mode when you’re not using it?
Do you leave the fridge door open when you’re deciding on a snack or putting away groceries?
Do you ever leave windows open in the summer or winter when the AC or furnace are on?
Be more mindful of your energy use and watch your hydro bill shrink!
Do you already use any of these strategies? Could you tweak your current habits to reduce your energy use even more?
Be sure to check back in next week for How to Save Money on Hydro (Part II): Cut Corners to Cut Your Bill, where I’ll reveal another 10 tricks and strategies!
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