Energy Efficiency Tips

This table was mainly derived from a Rocky Mountain Institute report (in 2012). There are quite a few measures that will cost you nothing, so take a look at them first. The table lists a number of energy efficiency measures. The cost ranges are approximate.

The savings column represents POTENTIAL yearly savings. These are based on assumptions which may not apply to your household but they provide a starting point.

Cost range
Measure
Savings
CO2 Kg
Notes
Air dry clothes (year round)
708
In the summer clothes could be dried on an outdoor line, and all year they can be dried on indoor drying racks.
Cooking savings
75

Cooking consumes about 3% of household energy. There are many ways we can cut energy waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Most of them are free:
   putting lids on pots
   cleaning the pan under the burner so it reflects more heat onto the bottom of the cooking vessel
   using a Crockpot, toaster oven or microwave instead of turning on the oven when appropriate
  ​​​​​​​ putting the extra coffee in a thermos instead of keeping the coffee pot plugged in all morning
  ​​​​​​​ avoid using the toaster for one slice of bread at a time (can put as much carbon into the air - from its use of fossil-fueled electricity - as the bread contains in carbon as carbohydrate.)

Home office equipment savings
 
Home computers, printers, scanners, copiers, fax machines, lights, TVs, stereos, fans, and other widgets are often left on when not being used.
When the RMI report was written (about 10 years ago) in the US, some 35 million computers, 11 million printers, 7 million fax machines, and 4 million copiers call home. RMI estimates that households that do have computers could reduce electricity consumption of such equipment by such no cost measures as:
turning them off at night (nearly three million users keep their computers, and, presumably, other home office equipment, on 24/7/52: one computer on all year uses 1,230 kWh costing $98 per year and emits, needlessly, 1,460 lbs of CO2 for the on-time of 20 hrs beyond the ~4 hrs of use-time per day for the typical home computer)
Increase A/C thermostat by 1.7oC
154
Many homes and offices are colder in summer than they are in winter!
Use a programmable thermostat to automate this. Also increase temperatures even more when the house is not occupied.
Lower thermostat in winter by 1.2C
160
Use a programmable thermostat to automate this. Also reduce temperatures even more when the house is not occupied and overnight. Wear a sweater!
Lower water heater temp to 50oC (gas) or 60oC (electric)
97
Domestic water heaters, particularly electric, can be contaminated by Legionella so it is recommended to set electric heaters to 60oC but gas water heaters can operate safely at a lower temperature (50oC.)
Take short (navy) showers
3,000
The potential savings are for a two person household. A typical shower takes as much as 230 L of water, while taking a short shower (run shower to wet body, lather body and lather hair, run shower to rinse body, and optionally repeat to apply hair conditioner) can use as little as 11 liters; one person can save 80,000 liters per year. A household of 4 adults would take 8 years to fill an Olympic size swimming pool. Depending on how the water is heated, this measure could save up to 1,500 Kg CO2 /person /year. (DISCLAIMER: this calculation is preliminary and has not yet been confirmed.) Additional savings can be achieved by taking showers less frequently.
Navy showers have three benefits: conserve water which is a finite resource, reduce the municipal cost of treating water and processing the extra sewage load, reducing the cost of heating the extra water.
Turn off unneeded lights
171
Use timers or motion detectors for lights.
Use windows and shades
 
Use curtains and shades on your windows, to keep the heat in during the winter. Use window shades to reduce or block sunlight and heat during the summer, particularly if you have windows that receive direct sunlight.
Unplug extra fridge in garage
203
 
Use energy-saving appliance features
349
New models of dishwashers have energy saving options which let dishes air dry. New models of driers have moisture sensors to stop the drier when clothes are dry.
Wash clothes in cold water
148
In addtion to saving energy, your clothes will probably last longer.
Get rid of one car
11,450
If you have more than one car, get rid of all of them if at all possible. Use transit for urban travel and buses or trains for longer trips. Campaign for transit if it not available and improved transit elsewhere. Rent a car for travel where the other options are not available. Use a bike and campaign for bike lanes (dedicated ideally.)
Some tips
Stop flying, especially for short trips
 
Flying, especially for short-haul flights, generates a lot of emissions. Use buses or trains where possible. Flight emissions calculator.
Cut phantom loads by half
142
Many appliances use electricity even when they're turned off.
TVs with instant on, telephone answering machines, VCRs, and plug-in tools all use ~2-6 watts.
Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory estimated that such “phantom” or stand-by loads consume an average of 67 continuous watts in the typical home, and waste 587 kWh, $47, and 840 lbs of CO2 per year. These figures are from approx 2000, and since then the number of appliances using phantom power has increased. Devices such as Kilawatt can be used to measure the consumption of devices.
You can disconnect the equipment (NO COST) or purchase powerbars (LOW COST) which can control a number of pieces of equipment (such as for a home computer)
Fix hot water leaks
15
Repair dripping faucets and shower heads. This will conserve water as well as reduce emissions
 
Install faucet aerators
50
Low-flow aerators (8.35L/min) cost about $1.50
Replace one exterior incandescent bulb with compact fluorescent light (CFLs) or LED
95
95 Kg per bulb. The savings here are for CFLs although the savings for newer LEDs would be greater. Take care to dispose of CFLs according to your municipalities rules because of the toxic mercury they contain. LEDs do not contain mercury.
Replace six interior incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or LED
258
43 Kg per bulb. The savings here are for CFLs although the savings for newer LEDs would be greater. Take care to dispose of CFLs according to your municipalities rules because of the toxic mercury they contain. LEDs do not contain mercury.
Add air gap window films
333
Window insulation kits can be purchased at a cost of around $4/window. They can be left in place or reinstalled each season. They are also known as window insulation shrink film because they require the use of a hair drier to make it fit properly.
Add low-e window films
171
To keep the sun’s heat out of the house (for hot climates, east and west-facing windows, and unshaded south-facing windows), the Low-E coating should be applied to the outside pane of glass.
If the windows are designed to provide heat energy in the winter and keep heat inside the house (typical of cold climates), the Low-E coating should be applied to the inside pane of glass. Window films sell for around $45/window.
Heating system tune-up
241
In addition to an annual furnace cleanup and inspection, clean or replace the furnace filter every couple of months.
Switch to renewable electricity
 
In Toronto, you can sign a contract to have your electricity provided by Bullfrog Power from renewable wind-power
Switch to renewable natural gas
5,000
In Toronto, you can sign a contract to have your natural gas provided by Bullfrog Power by capturing and cleaning gas produced through the decay of organic matter in our everyday waste stream
Home office equipment savings
62
RMI estimates that households that have computers could reduce electricity consumption of such equipment by such measures as:
   upgrade to electricity-saving laptops when buying a new computer (laptops use about 15 W compared to 140 W for typical desktops),
  ​​​​​​​ buy EnergyStar office equipment and enable associated software, and
  ​​​​​​​ plug computers, printers, and desk lights into an occupancy-sensing control strip that turns selected equipment off when you’re not around.
Install a programmable thermostat
486
Costs between $40 and $150. Easy to install.
Install efficient shower heads
168
Low-flow shower heads can be purchased for under $30.
Insulate hot & cold water pipes
24
 
Insulate water heater
119
Wrapping a fiberglass insulation blanket around your heater (assuming that the manufacturer says it is safe to do so.) Be very careful not to block the flue or air intake on a gas water heater. Never insulate the top of a gas water heater.
Occupancy sensor (for electronic equipment)
30
Plug computers, printers, and desk lights into an occupancy-sensing control strip that turns selected equipment off when you’re not around.
Roof whitening
214
White roofs reflect heat during the summer. This might not be so useful in colder climates. If new roofing is financially out of reach, painting the old roof white with special reflective paint called hyperseal paint can work much the same magic.
http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/coolroof/
Seal large air leaks
676
Get a caulking gun and caulk. Use the smoke from incense (carefully) to check for air leaks and apply caulk where necessary.
Weatherize windows, doors
282
Add an attic radiant barrier
85
Add attic insulation
972
 
Add basement insulation
521
Take care when insulating a basement in an old house with a rubble foundation or when there is moisture/water leaking through the foundation.
Add solar water heating system
678
According to the US EESI, residential solar water heater systems cost between $1,500 and $3,500, compared to $150 to $450 for electric and gas heaters. With savings in electricity or natural gas, solar water heaters pay for themselves within four to eight years. And solar water heaters last between 15 and 40 years--the same as conventional systems--so after that initial payback period is up, zero energy cost essentially means having free hot water for years to come.

This may not be cost-effective if you wash clothes in cold water and take short, navy showers. You still need a water heater for those days when there is not enough sunlight. period is up, zero energy cost essentially means having free hot water for years to come.

Add wall insulation
389
In an old double brick house with lath and plaster walls it might be best to insulate the walls on the exterior 
Change to front loading clothes washer
148
Conserves water which conserves energy too. Reduces drier emissions due to more efficient spin cycle (assuming you do not air dry.) Front loading washers cost between $500 and $5500.
Heating system modification
241
This is a Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) term but it is not defined in their report.

Modifications that can be made to your heating system include creating zones in your home with individual thermostats, so that unused rooms are not being heated.

New Air Conditioning unit (from 9.0 to 12.0 SEER)
214
Many households use fans and natural ventilation (windows!) to avoid the use of air conditioners altogether.
Currently models up to 20 SEER are available.

 

New efficient refrigerator
376
 
New furnace (from 0.50 to 0.96 Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE))
1,924
Switching from a low-efficiency or mid-efficiency to a high-efficiency furnace will cost about $5,000, and should cut your heating bills by, on average, about 35 per cent.

High efficiency gas furnaces (up to 96% efficiency) require external air input/output vents.)
Some utilities and Canadian provinces provide rebates to partially offset this cost.

Seal and insulate ducts
686
Upgrade to high-performance windows
441
Use triple glazed, argon filled, windows where possible. Cost around $500/window installed.
Make sure that the installer insulates the gap between the new windows and the exterior walls.
If the windows are the original windows in a house built before 1940 it may be better to leave them alone.
Use a tankless, or on-demand, water heater
 
First consider using cold water for laundry and other ways of reducing hot water.
Change to low-flow toilets
 
Rebates may be available.

 

The values of the cost range column are

free
low
medium
high