10 Ways to Save Energy (and Money) This Summer

It's summertime, the temperatures are soaring and you just want to stay beat the heat – without harming either the environment or your wallet. Follow these ten tips to reduce your energy consumption and keep your cool this summer.

According to experts at the Energy Savers initiative in the Centre for Urban Energy at Ryerson University in Toronto, these energy-saving tips can help cut your energy bill by 20 to 50 percent:

1. Make your thermostat work for you. Program your electric thermostats to forego using air conditioning when you don't need it. Set the thermostat at 82°F before you leave for work in the morning and about 77°F when you get home.

2. Dare to be different – live off-peak. In many cities, electricity usage is calculated on a time-of-use rate. Go online and determine when your off-peak hours are and run your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer at these times. Often, electricity rates are the lowest early in the morning, at night and on the weekends.

3. Fight that breeze. Drafts in your homes are big energy wasters. Find out where air is escaping by performing a simple air leak test: Hold a piece of tissue near windows and door frames, electrical outlets, baseboards and other possible leakage locations. If the tissue moves, consider sealing in these gaps with caulking and weather stripping. The materials are relatively inexpensive and can reduce loss energy loss by up to 10 percent.

4. Embrace the dark. Closing your blinds and curtains during the day can naturally cool your home by blocking the heat and hot sun from coming in through your windows.

5. Give yourself a reality check. Do you let the water run when you brush your teeth? Do you keep your fridge door open for a long time while you decide what to eat? Be aware of these bad habits and try to pick up a few good ones, including taking shorter showers, turning off the lights when you leave the room and watering the lawn at night. Remember, a little can go a long way.

6. Phantom-proof your home. Phantom load is the electricity consumed by a device when it is turned off. For example, your television, video game console, cable box and laptop and cell phone chargers all suck up energy even when they’re not on.Ensure that these devices are unplugged when they’re not being used. Alternatively, plug them into a power bar and turn off the bar before you go to bed and when you leave for work in the morning.

7. Be an efficiency whiz in the laundry room. Becoming smarter about how you do your laundry not only saves you money, it also protects valuable water resources. Roughly 90 percent of your washing machine’s energy consumption comes from heating water, so wash your laundry in cold water whenever possible. Loading the washer to its capacity at all times uses up less energy than washing two medium loads. Finally, set your machine to the shortest wash time and forego the extra rinse cycle.

8. Hang it out to dry. The dryer is a huge source of energy. During the summer, hang your clothes outside to dry or dry them on a clothes rack indoors.

9. Lighten up with energy-efficient bulbs. The electricity used over the lifetime of a single incandescent bulb costs five to 10 times the original purchase price of the bulb itself. Replace your regular light bulbs with either light-emitting diode (LED) or compact fluorescent lights (CFL) bulbs, which are more energy-efficient and longer lasting.

10. Knowledge is power. Understand the options you have available for managing your energy consumption, such as home energy monitors and other applications. And be sure to take advantage of any rebates and incentives available from your government or local utility.

Energy Savers is a student-led, not-for-profit social enterprise developed by Ryerson University's Centre for Urban Energy and Students in Free Enterprise. Energy Savers' mission is to help Toronto energy users save on their costs by educating them on the value of energy conservation and empowering them to take advantage of other existing opportunities.

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