With Alberta utility prices on the rise, most homeowners are looking for ways to keep their energy bills as low as possible. Implementing energy-efficient solutions around your home can reduce your property's energy consumption and lower your monthly fees. But exactly how much less can you expect to pay when you choose from the most popular energy-efficient solutions? Keep reading to find out.
Table of Contents
- Air Sealing & Upgraded Insulation: Take 15% Off Your Bill
- Optimize Your HVAC: Take 20% Off Your Bill
- Energy-Efficient Kitchen Appliances: Take 22% Off Your Bill
- Energy-Efficient Small Appliances: Take 40% Off Your Bill
- So How Much Can You Save on Utilities?
- Canada Greener Homes Grant: Energy Efficiency Is Within Reach
- Save Money On Your Alberta Energy Bills
Air Sealing & Upgraded Insulation: Take 15% Off Your Bill
Air sealing is one of the best starting points when tackling your home's energy efficiency. This is because it prevents air leaks across the boundaries between indoors and outdoors, which can be responsible for heat loss in the winter and air-conditioner overuse in the summer.
Begin by identifying air leakage in your home. This means going through your house and finding any cracks and openings that allow outside air to enter. These leakage points dramatically reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system.
To seal these leakage points yourself, you can apply caulk or weatherstrips to drafty doors and leaky windows, which is a common step of winterizing a home. You should also check areas where plumbing features or electrical wires come through the walls. The space around these objects can be filled with insulation to better seal your home.
Ultimately, it can be hard to find every leaky area in your home, and a professional will be able to complete the hardest-to-reach areas.
The next step is insulation. Since almost every home already comes with insulation, it can often be overlooked when optimizing your energy efficiency. Consider upgrading your current insulation to trap in savings and reduce your heating and cooling expenses.
When upgrading insulation, you can always choose to start simply. For example, the summer sun's heat can quickly strain your AC system. Keep blinds, shades, and shutters closed during the hottest points of the day to keep rooms cooler. Alternatively, if you want to warm your home without turning on the heater, open the curtains and let the sun warm it up for you.
Increase your efforts by finding areas in your home that could benefit from extra insulation. The attic and the basement are often the best places to start. When you replace insulation, be sure to choose a material with a high R-value. R-value indicates a material's ability to resist heat. The most efficient insulation materials have very high R-values.
A few types of energy-efficient insulation materials that you can find at local hardware stores include:
- Fibreglass Batts/Blow-In Insulation
- Foam Board
- Spray Foam
Many experts agree that cellulose insulation is the best material for extreme cold. While some of these materials can be manageable for DIY installation, cellulose insulation should always be blown in by a professional.
The estimated savings for sealing and insulation, according to energy experts, can be about 15%.
Optimize Your HVAC: Take 20% Off Your Bill
To save money, your HVAC should continuously be operating at maximum efficiency. This applies to old HVACs and brand-new appliances alike.
For the best performance on an old HVAC, regular maintenance is critical. You can improve your old machine by replacing the compressors, installing fan controls for the condenser, and implementing economizers that leverage outdoor temperatures for heating and cooling.
One of the easiest ways to ensure top-notch performance is keeping your HVAC filters clean. As the HVAC system runs, the air filter inside of it becomes clogged with dirt, dust, and other particles. If your filter accumulates severe blockage, the system's functionality will decline, and you'll be left with higher utility bills. Changing the filter regularly keeps your HVAC system's air filter clean, allowing it to function at its best.
Should you decide to replace your HVAC system, you'll need to know about the best options for energy efficiency. Since Alberta winters can get so cold, many owners opt to replace their heaters first. Forced-air furnaces can provide consistent heating in every room of your house, but they're not very energy efficient. Heat pumps are increasing in popularity thanks to their high efficiency. They gather heat from the air and underground geothermal systems and distribute it in the home.
Experts say that replacing a heat pump or air conditioner over ten years old can reduce heating and cooling expenses by 20%. Combine that with insulation and heating for a total of 35% savings on HVAC expenses.
Energy-Efficient Kitchen Appliances: Take 22% Off Your Bill
The refrigerator consumes the most power of all your kitchen equipment, and older models eat up far more energy than newer releases. ENERGY STAR® certified refrigerators are 10% more effective than their outdated counterparts.
Today's dishwashers consume around half the water and energy that models did 20 years ago, with an average of four to six gallons per load. Updating your dishwasher to an energy-efficient model can save you an additional 12% on that appliance's contribution to your overall bill. You can browse energy-efficient kitchen appliances online, but most homeowners prefer to buy from a local company that provides delivery and installation.
So even if you just upgrade your fridge and dishwasher, you could reduce your kitchen's contribution to your energy bill by 22%.
Energy-Efficient Small Appliances: Take 40% Off Your Bill
When it comes to energy efficiency, no savings are too small. To minimize waste, check out the newest models of:
- Air purifiers
On average, the most energy-efficient small appliances are up to 40% more efficient than outdated models and can be found at retailers throughout Alberta.
So How Much Can You Save on Utilities?
To determine how much you could save by making energy-efficient upgrades to your home, let's look at how much each of the expenses above contributes, on average, to a standard Calgary utility bill.
- Heating and cooling costs take up to 54% of a monthly bill.
- Residential appliance energy consumption can account for a maximum of 14% of a monthly bill.
- Small electronics contribute 20% to a monthly bill.
The average utility bill for a Calgary three-bedroom property is about $275 per month. If you fully upgraded your home for maximum energy efficiency, your savings might look like this:
- 275 times 0.54 = 148.5
- 148.5 times 0.35 = 51.975
- 148.5 minus 51.975 = $96.56
- 275 times 0.14 = 38.5
- 38.5 times 0.22 = 8.47
- 38.5 minus 8.47 = $30.03
Small Electronic Appliances:
- 275 times 0.2 = 55
- 55 times 0.4 = 22
- 55 minus 22 = $33
The new totals come out to $159.59 per month, meaning somebody who fully optimized their home for energy efficiency could pay about 42% less per month on utilities.
Canada Greener Homes Grant: Energy Efficiency Is Within Reach
It's important to note the purpose of this article isn't to get people to go out and buy every single energy-efficient appliance all at once. In fact, the expenses of doing so would most likely outweigh the savings. The purpose is to show how cost-effective it can be to include sensible energy-efficient upgrades in your long-term budget.
For added incentive, Canada is making it easier than ever for homeowners to improve their energy efficiency with the Canada Greener Homes Grant.
Canada's buildings and residential homes account for over 18% of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. To combat this, the government is offering 700,000 grants of up to $5,600 to help homeowners make energy-efficient upgrades.
The process starts with EnerGuide evaluations, which are valued at $600. These energy audits help homeowners prioritize retrofits that will save them the most money. After that, qualified homeowners can receive $5,000 grants to update any inefficient aspects of their homes, including almost all of the solutions detailed in this article.
Save Money On Your Alberta Energy Bills
If you're looking for ways to save money on your energy bill, the best place to start is with home solutions that provide better results with less energy. Sealing air leaks, updating insulation, maintaining your HVAC, and upgrading inefficient appliances can go a long way. Don't forget to look into grants that can ease the cost even more. With that in mind, you can enjoy increased comfort for less money.