Earth’s resources are important to manage and conserve, and electricity is a resource that should be used wisely.
In British Columbia more than 90% of BC Hydro’s power is generated from hydroelectricity. While it is a clean source of energy with low carbon footprint, hydroelectricity projects affect our watersheds and disrupt river systems that are important salmon habitats. Therefore, it is still important to conserve energy to reduce pressure on the grid, which collectively can help minimize the need for future hydroelectric projects.
The following sections contain energy saving tips that will save you money on your BC Hydro bill and reduce your impact on the environment. You may also want to learn more about green sources of energy for your home, such as solar panels, or switching to renewable natural gas to further reduce your impact.
Learn how much you use
Understanding your personal energy consumption is a great place to start on the path to reducing electricity use. If you are a BC Hydro customer, you can track your electricity consumption down to the hour, by the day or on a monthly or yearly basis. Simply create an account with BC Hydro with the following tool: Track and manage your electricity use online.
Products like the Rainforest EMU-2™ Energy Monitoring Unit could help you track your household’s energy usage, as well as the estimated cost of the energy you are currently using (learn more from BC Hydro by clicking here).
Once you are tracking yourself, you can check your usage against the average BC energy consumption or similar houses in your neighbourhood. You can even compare yourself against your past self and see how implementing some of the tips below are making a difference!
Things you can do
Switch off and unplug:
- Turn off lights you aren’t using. Be conscious of the lights around your home and if they need to be on. Rely on daylight from windows during the day and switch off lights as you leave a room.
- Turn off your entertainment system when not in use. You can plug your streaming devices, DVD player and TV into a single power strip with a switch, then it is simple to turn it off at the end of the day.
- Unplug and turn off extra devices around the home, like coffee makers or computers, when they are not in use. Many devices are on standby mode when powered off that can add up across multiple electronics over time.
- Replace old incandescent bulbs with the latest high efficiency LED bulbs that will last much longer and save money in the long run.
- Upgrade your windows to energy efficient ones. Windows, being less well insulated than walls, are responsible for significant heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. Modern double-glazed windows can reduce heat loss by 30% over single pane glass. The window type and frame can also impact how energy efficient it is.
- Retire old appliances for more efficient models. In recent years, there have been significant improvements to the efficiency of the appliances that we use every day. When it is time to replace an old appliance, seek a replacement that is ENERGY STAR® certified. Information and links to product guides for different appliances have been compiled by Natural Resources Canada and in BC Hydro’s Power Smart Shop. By upgrading older appliances, you can measurably reduce your energy consumption:
- A new front loader is more water and energy efficient, potentially reducing energy consumption by 65% saving.
- A fridge over 10 years old may require double the electricity of a new energy efficient model.
- An ENERGY STAR® TV consumes 30% less energy than an ordinary one.
- The above advice is from BC Hydro, learn more here.
- Switch your heating system. New heat pumps are more energy efficient and effective than ever and since our electricity in BC is mainly from renewable sources, using an electric heat pump has a low carbon footprint. An added benefit of heat pumps is that they can cool your home in the summer months by pumping out the warm air from within your home to the outside. When upgrading, check for heat pump rebates.
- Try a programmable or smart thermostat. You can further your efficiency by having a programmable thermostat and tailor the temperature of your home around your activities. You can it set your heater to kick on a few degrees cooler (try 16°C) at night when you are under the covers and keep your heater lower during the day when everyone is out of the house.
Simple energy saving tips:
- Lower your thermostat by a degree or two. Every extra degree significantly adds to your bill, so grab a comfy sweater and slippers and keep your home a little cooler.
- Close window coverings at night to prevent heat loss and open them during the day to let the sunlight warm your home.
- Regularly maintain your heating system so that it is working optimally.
- Seal drafty windows and apply weather stripping to doors that are letting the cold in, this is a simple project you can do yourself.
Click here to find more tips from BC Hydro to keep your home warm in winter.
- Close window coverings and blinds during a hot day to reduce the amount of heat coming through the window.
- Promote natural ventilation to moderate the temperature of your home, open windows on opposite sides of the house to encourage the flow through of cool air in the evenings and mornings.
- Line dry your laundry whenever possible. Did you know that on average 12% of home electricity consumption is from the clothes dryer? Hanging laundry on a line or rack outside to dry not only saved you electricity, it will extend the life of your clothes and reduce microplastic pollution.
- Avoid the oven, which will heat up your kitchen and use the BBQ or have a salad for dinner.
- Use a fan to keep cool rather than air conditioning when possible.
Click here to find more tips from BC Hydro for keeping cool in summer.
- Use smaller kitchen appliances for cooking meals, such as the microwave, crockpot, air fryer or toaster oven rather than the oven, when possible.
- Opt for a laptop rather than desktop computer. Desktops consume greater amounts of electricity.
- Wash your laundry on a short cycle with cold water (which also will extend the life of your clothes and reduce microplastic pollution).
- Take shorter showers. Heating water is energy intensive, taking shorter showers means heating less water (also good for conserving water in the summer time).
- Dry full loads of laundry in the dryer and throw in a dry towel or dryer balls which help to distribute the moisture and reduce the amount of time and energy it takes to dry. If you have multiple loads to dry, do them right after each other while the dryer is still warm.
- Open your dishwasher to dry, select the air-dry option and open it up at the end of its cycle rather than using energy to heat dry.
- Keep your fridge full and organized, it takes more energy to keep an empty fridge cool than a full one. You can keep a fridge at optimal fullness with jugs of cold water if need be. By keeping your fridge well organized you can find what you are after quickly and reduce the time the door is open letting the coolness escape. Click here for more fridge and freezer tips.
Click here to find even more tips from BC Hydro on ways to save electricity.
Taking the steps outlined above will help save you money on your electricity bill, and you may be able to save even more money through rebates and incentives. Take advantage of government and BC Hydro rebates programs to take on bigger projects with greater up-front costs, such as improving your home’s insulation or upgrading a major appliance.
If you can reduce your electricity use by 10% over 12 months, BC Hydro will pay you $50. Join BC Hydro’s Team Power Smart Energy Challenge through Team Power Smart. Simply start by logging in to your online account.
We can all make choices that help to save electricity. Let’s all work towards this for today's and future generations.
Photo credits: Anete Lusina from Pexels, Ksenia Chernaya from Pexels, Nicole Christiansen, Maria Catanzaro, Ben Wicks on Unsplash