Here are some of the biggest factors that influence your power bill.
Weather can be unpredictable, but that doesn’t mean your power bill has to be! Understanding how weather affects your electricity use is the first step to making changes that will benefit you and your wallet.
The average outside temperature can have a large impact on your power bill. A long and cold winter means your furnace needs to work extra hard to keep you warm. The same is true for summer months. The more hot days we have, the harder your air conditioner will have to work to keep you cool.
If you have direct sunlight hitting your home each day, your air conditioner will have to work harder to keep your home as cool as you like it. Use blinds or curtains to block out the sun's rays during the summer.
If your home is not sealed properly, wind gusts can force their way in and push out hot air. This means that your furnace will have to work harder to maintain the set temperature. Visit Natural Resources Canada to learn more about insulation and air sealing improvements you can make on your home.
High humidity can make temperatures feel more extreme. High indoor humidity can be caused by outside temperature and everyday activities like showering, cooking and drying clothes. You can install a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) to control humidity without losing heat. A dehumidifier is a cheaper option that can also make a difference in your home.
Block Heater Timers
It’s a good idea to plug in your vehicle when the temperature drops below –15 C, but your vehicle only needs to be plugged in for four hours. Install a timer on your vehicle's block heater — set it to begin four hours before you plan to use your vehicle — to save about $30 a year (savings are based on reducing plug-in time from 12 hours to four hours per night).
The Number of People in Your Home
The more people you have living in your household, the more power you will use.
Understanding how your habits impact your power bill is important and can help you save money.
Working from Home
If you have a home business, there’s a good chance you are using more electricity. Having an extra computer running, along with other office electronics, will increase your power bill. Being at home all day also means you will have more lights on, and you’re heating your home longer and for more hours of the day, than someone who works away from home.
Heating water with an electric water heater as opposed to gas, can add up to 30% of your home’s hot water energy costs. Install low-flow faucet aerators on sinks, or purchase low-flow showerheads when renovating. This will reduce your hot water consumption by up to 50 per cent.
Gifts aren’t the only things that impact your wallet during the holidays. You may be spending more time at home entertaining or relaxing, which means you’re using more power than normal. Putting up decorative lighting and spending more time cooking can also add to your bill.
Having overnight visitors can lead you to use more heat or air conditioning, more hot water for showers and increase the amount of loads running through your washer and dryer.
Your Home's Characteristics
The age of your home and how well it’s maintained influence your power use. Doing regular maintenance on your home can help you save money now and in the long run.
Older homes are generally not as well insulated, which can result in heat loss. Visit Natural Resources Canada to learn about insulation and air sealing improvements you can make in your home.
Drafts are big power wasters that increase your bills and make your home less comfortable. Weather strip and caulk around windows and doors to prevent air leaks and you can save about 10 per cent of your yearly heating costs.
If your home is heated by electricity it will consume far more power than a home heated by natural gas.
The shade provided by a deciduous tree can keep direct sunlight out in the summer, keeping your house cool. In the winter, the leaves will fall and allow sunlight to heat your home.
Change or clean your furnace filter every two months during heating and air conditioning seasons to improve your air quality. A dirty or clogged filter reduces the airflow and forces it to run longer to heat or cool your home.
Room air conditioners and heat recovery ventilators (HRV) also have filters that should be replaced on a regular basis when in use. Some filters are reusable and can simply be washed (per instructions), dried and reinstalled.
Electrical Appliances and Devices
The number and type of appliances in your home can impact the amount of power you use. Don't forget — you pay to buy an appliance and you also pay to use it. Knowing what to look for when purchasing appliances and how to use them efficiently can save you money in the long run.
Older appliances tend to use more power than newer models. New technology enables appliances to be more energy efficient.
ENERGY STAR vs. EnerGuide
There is a difference between the ENERGY STAR and EnerGuide labels you see on appliances. ENERGY STAR appliances and devices are at the top of their class when it comes to energy efficiency. EnerGuide simply shows how efficient, good or bad, an appliance or device is. Purchasing ENERGY STAR products will ensure that your second price tag, the operating cost, is low.