Lower Your Energy Bill This Summer

Now that we are done fretting about the Polar Vortex, it's time to complain about the suffocating
Canadian heat and humidity and start cranking up our air conditioning to cope. However, in a couple months, we will be feeling the financial pinch of skyrocketing energy bills. So what can we do to get ahead of the electric bill shock and really enjoy this beautiful summer weather? We can cut our energy bills, reduce greenhouse gases, and lower the likelihood of summer blackouts by lowering our energy consumption and finding cool solutions. Here are 10 simple ways for homeowners to cut their energy usage.

1. Strategic Gardening. While you are thinking about changes to your garden, consider planting trees and shrubs that will offer shade to the windowed areas of your home. In summer, the leafy foliage helps block out some of the suns blasting rays and in the winter, bare branches will offer a bit of privacy while still letting warm sunlight into your home. Each year as the shade coverage you have planted grows, so does your energy savings.

2. Break Open The BBQ. Barbecuing not only keeps the cooking heat outside, but it also makes every meal feel like a vacation. Don't heat up the house with the oven and stove top...it's time to get grilling and enjoy eating in the backyard. Dining outdoors helps lower your lighting costs and lessens the need for A/C.

3. Create Airflow A ceiling fan can help save a lot of money by maximizing air circulation. Paired with open windows or screen doors, fans allow you to restrict use of the costly A/C to just the days when you really need it. Take advantage of window fans to pull cool evening/night-time air INTO the house and pull hot stuffy air OUT of the house. Creating a flow can make the best use of the cooler temperatures outside that often don't naturally blow into your home.

4. Draw The Curtains. It's ok to enjoy bird watching while you have your coffee in the morning, or opening the curtains in the evening to do your star gazing. Just make sure that you draw your curtains and blinds before you leave the house for the day, to protect against unnecessary sunlight streaming in and heating up your home.

5. Upgrade To Energy-Efficient A/C. Ensure that yourcentralair conditioning system is in optimal running orderby booking a tune-up and/or maintenance appointment. If you are using window air conditioners, make sure that they are not draining the power excessively and are not in need of repairs. If necessary, replace old power sucking units with newer, smaller and more energy-efficient models. The money you pay out now will eventually be returned to you in lower monthly utility bills.

6. Let It Hang Out. Hanging your wet clothes out on a line or drying rack outside uses no energy and will leave your laundry smelling fresh and fantastic. Not to mention, putting up and taking down clothes off the line provides a little extra exercise...don't forget, it's tank top season!

7. Get Undressed. There is no reason you cannot wear a tank top and bare feet in the house all summer long, no need to be shy when you are in the privacy of your own home. The less clothing you wear, the higher you can set the thermostat on your A/C, and the more energy you can save.

8. Unplugged And Offline. Even when turned off, many appliances continue to use energy that can really add up to money out of your pocket. Put all your electronics (computers, TVs, stereo, wifi, DVD player) onto power bars and turn them off at night or when not in use. Don't forget to unplug everything when you go away on vacation.

9. Throwback Mowing. Why use a gas or electric power lawn mower that will hike up your energy bills? Save the money, avoid the stinky gas smell and burn a few more calories while pushing a quiet, zero-energy-using rolling push mower?

10. Motion Sensor Lighting. Home security may require that you have lights on in the evening to ensure that your home does not fall victim to intruders. But putting your lights on a motion sensor or pre-set timer will avoid wasteful lighting and unnecessary power usage. 

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