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Making Your Winnipeg Home More Energy Efficient

Sept 20,2019

From wanting to lower costs in your household budget to combating climate change, there’s a million great reasons to make your home more energy efficient. The cost of making changes to increase efficiency varies pretty significantly depending on what you’re doing, but the end result is almost always going to be savings, provided you stay in the same home for long enough. Even when you sell your home, energy efficient refits can increase it’s resale value - more often than not, energy efficiency is going to save you money.

Find Rebates

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of what projects you can undertake to make your home more energy efficient, I strongly recommend you take a look at Manitoba Hydro’s Savings & Rebates. From Affordable Energy programs for those with limited income to free refrigerator pick up services, there’s a plethora of different rebates available for all types of energy saving. They regularly add new incentives as well, so check often; you never know when your latest project might be rebatable!

Low-Cost Projects

These projects will help you make a more energy efficient home; more importantly, they’re incredibly inexpensive - under $25! These are upgrades anyone can do; they shouldn’t take too much technical know-how. There’s always YouTube videos if you don’t know how to complete a project but you’re willing to learn!

Seal Doors and Windows: When your doors and windows let air leak through, your furnace or air conditioning has to work harder in order to keep your house feeling right. Use weather stripping and caulking to seal air leaks around your doors and windows - it’ll keep your house warmer in the cool months, and cooler in the warm months!

Insulate Pipes: Covering water pipes, both hot and cold, with foam sleeves or wraps will help you save on your utility bill. The hot water, insulated from the colder air in your home, will stay warmer, while the cool water won’t “sweat” in the summertime, reducing your home’s humidity and mitigating the need for a dehumidifier.

Get The Water & Energy Saver Kit: Manitoba Hydro’s Water & Energy Saver Kit comes with some great tools to lower energy costs in your home, including the aforementioned pipe wrap. It also comes with a variety of low-flow aerators and showerheads, plumber’s tape, and a thermometer for your fridge and freezer. Best of all, a technician can come and install all of the kit for you; the service is also free! I highly recommend applying.

Time Your Block Heater: In the winter, we all need to heat our cars to get them to start in the morning; a lot of us just heat them overnight, but for about $25 you can get a timer for your block heater that switches it on an hour or two before you leave - all your car actually needs, and huge savings when you’re plugging in every night.

Put a Stake in Vampire Power: Vampire power, also known as standby power, is the power electronic devices use even when they’re not being operated. Examples include TVs that need to have power running through them to detect inputs from a remote control, and microwaves that display the time at all hours. Attaching these to programmable power bars on a timer or unplugging them altogether when not in use is a great way to save on your energy bill. A great place to find more information about this is a local electrician.

Mid-Tier Projects

Automation is a key player in the fight against unnecessary energy consumption, with programmable technology enabling your home to run efficiently with minimal effort on your part. These projects will cost you under 500$, and the savings and convenience they could net you might be well above that number.

Smart Thermostat: Smart and programmable thermostats are incredible for Winnipeg’s extreme continental climate. Our weather, including wind chill and humidex, can vary from -50 to +30; we need furnaces and AC year-round. Smart thermostats allow you to keep the temperature regulation at a minimum when you’re away, while the furnace or AC will turn back on full-blast when you’re coming home. You can also use data analysis provided by many smart thermostats to see exactly how much your spending on heating and cooling, and to notice heating and cooling trends in your home; you might find that changing the temperature a degree or two makes all the difference on your budget, but no difference to your comfort!

Smart Lights: Smart lights can be programmed to turn on and off at given times a day - especially useful if you’re prone to forgetting to switch them all off. You can dim smart lights without a dimmer switch; all you need is an app or smart speaker to adjust them. They can also change colours - while not particularly energy efficient, it sure is fun!

Insulate Your Home: Insulating your attic, basement and other areas of your home properly can save you serious cash on heating and air conditioning; Manitoba Hydro comes in handy again here with insulation rebates for low-income families.

Top-Level Projects

These projects require a much bigger upfront investment that the other ones, but as in all things, you have to spend money to make money. It’s especially important to look for Manitoba Hydro rebates here; there’s often quite a few, and they can seriously reduce the overall cost - Hydro often offers low-interest financing for top-level projects.

Replace your HVAC: The HVAC acronym stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, and it should be a big focus for any Manitoban looking for energy efficiency. As I mentioned before, our intense climate means your HVAC systems are running most days of the year. Changing to a high-efficiency furnace or air conditioner can save you a lot; a high efficiency furnace can save you up to 35% on your home heating bill each year, compared to a conventional furnace. Inefficient ventilation can also create problems, and improperly sized heating and cooling units can cost you a lot. Consult with an HVAC contractor to figure out what upgrades you can make, how much they’ll cost, and how much you’ll save over time.

Upgrade Your Appliances: Your old refrigerator and stove are probably using a lot more energy than you need them to, especially if they’re from a couple decades ago; you can save hundreds a year by replacing them. The same goes for your washer and dryer; there are smart washer-dryers now that are more energy efficient. They also detect when your clothes are done, so you don’t waste energy needlessly. You might find that simply servicing home appliances will make them more energy efficient.

Get Solar Power: While this might be the biggest upfront investment, it also leads to the most potential savings; in Winnipeg and the surrounding area, the right solar panel setup can actually provide all the energy you need throughout the year; excess energy created in the summer can be sold to Manitoba Hydro to offset your winter costs, when there’s less sun in the day.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.