It's no secret that most of us use more energy in the winter. And if your home is heated electrically, you'll likely see big changes in your electricity bill for the winter months compared to summer.
That might be true even if your home has a gas furnace. Many of us supplement heat with electric space heaters, especially in basements or other cold areas of the house. But before you plug in those heaters or turn up the thermostat, check out these tips to make sure you're making smart heating choices. Remember; the goal is to keep you warm, not your entire home.
Start by only heating the space you're using
One of the biggest advantages of baseboard heating (compared to central heat) is that you only heat the rooms that you're using. But even if the heat is only on in the living room, turning it up higher than needed will bring your costs up.
To save energy, always turn your thermostats down at night when you're sleeping, and consider lowering the heat all the time in rooms you don't use or when you are away.
Heating costs rise about five per cent for every degree above 20°C (68°F) that you set your thermostats.
Most people are comfortable:
- Reading, or watching TV at 21ºC (70°F)
- Working around the house at 20ºC (68°F)
- Sleeping at 16ºC (61°F)
And don't forget to ensure that your heaters are ready to deliver all that heat they're creating. Keeping baseboard heaters free of dust and dirt (try giving them a good vacuuming before turning them on for the first time in the fall), and away from furniture, heavy carpets and drapes ensure the most heat is delivered from the baseboard to the room. Keeping your heaters free from obstructions is also important to minimize fire risk.
Check out more tips [PDF, 150 KB] on using baseboard heaters and choosing the right heater for your home type.
Portable space heaters not a good choice for large rooms or multiple spaces
The fact is that most portable space heaters use a lot of energy, so if the room you're trying to heat is large, or you have multiple heaters in multiple rooms, you could see big changes on your bill.
To make the most of your portable heater, use it in a small or enclosed space, and try placing it in the corner of the room. Keep doors shut to keep the heat in the room that you're using. No matter what kind of space heater you're using, it's important to keep safety top of mind. Ensure it won't tip over, use it on a level floor, keep blankets and fabric away, and never go to sleep with the heater on.
Find out more tips [PDF, 150 KB] on using heaters safely and which model to choose.
Keep yourself warm, and you'll need less heat
Whether you're using central heat, baseboard heaters, portable space heaters, or a combination of all three, the best defense against a big heating bill is to keep yourself warmer to start with. Small changes to your behaviour can help keep you comfortable enough to set that thermostat a little lower.
And those savings can add up: turning the heat down by just two degrees can reduce your home heating costs by 5 per cent. If you program your thermostat to set back the temperature by five degrees for eight hours of every night, you will save about 10 per cent on your heating bill.
One of the best things you can do to keep costs down is to bundle up. Use blankets, wear warm clothing and slippers, and ensure bare floors like tile or hardwood have rugs. If your feet are warm, you'll feel much warmer in a room, even if the thermostat is turned a degree or two cooler.
Source: BC Hydro
With the stormy season approaching, it is important to be prepared for a possible power outage. The following list can help you and your family get ready.
Before an outage:
- Ensure BC Hydro has your current phone number so we can quickly identify your account if you call during an outage (1 888 POWERON or 1-888 769 3766 or *Hydro *49367) from your mobile device
- Develop an emergency preparedness plan and share it with everyone in your household
- check emergency equipment periodically (flashlights, radios, generators, etc.) to make sure they are in working order
- Protect sensitive electrical equipment (computers, DVD players, TVs, etc.) by using surge protectors or other power protection devices
- Develop a list of important local telephone numbers and program them into your mobile device or post near your home phone
- If power is out for a longer period, it's important to have a contingency plan, such as moving to the home of a family member or friend in the an area with power
During an outage:
- Never go near or touch a fallen power line. Treat it as though it is live. Stay at least 10 metres away at all times and do not attempt to remove debris surrounding the line.
- Determine whether the outage is limited to your home. If your neighbour's power is still on, check your circuit breaker panel or fuse box.
- Turn off electrical appliances. Appliances start up automatically upon restoration of service; turning them off wil prevent injury, damage or fire.
- Check bchydro.com/outages or bchydro.com/mobile for the most up-to-date outage infomation. Listen to local news radio.
- Never use a camp stove, barbecur, or propane or kerosene heater indoors. A build-up of carbon monoxide gas in unventilated areas can be deadly.
- Include a battery operated flashlight in your emergency kit to avoid using candles - they can be a fire hazard.
- Turn off all lights except one inside your home and one outside. The inside light lets you know when the power is back on and the outside one alerts BC Hydro crews.
- Keep the doors of your refrigerator an dfreezer closed to keep your food as fresh as possible
- Help children remain calm.
- Anticipate traffic delays and use extreme caution when driving. Intersections should be treated as four-way stops when traffic lights are out.
Source: BC Hydro
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has now released survey findings for its inaugural First-Time Homebuyers Survey. Results were obtained from an online survey of close to 500 First-Time Buyers from across Canada, all of whom had a mortgage transaction in the past 12 months. Data was also supplemented with input from a series of focus groups in Halifax, Montreal, London, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.
Key findings were:
- First-Time Buyers are young (under 35), highly educated (82% have post-secondary education) and more likely than other buyers to have been born outside of Canada (23% of First-Time Buyers were born outside of Canada compared to 13% of Repeat Buyers)
- Their housing requirements and reasons for buying vary widely and they are more likely to move to a subsequent home sooner (31% plan to move within 5 years compared to 19% of Repeat Buyers)
- "Not wanting to rent" and "wanting to own their home" are the key reasons First-Time Buyers pursue homeownership
- First-Time Buyers typically take three months longer than Repeat Buyers to plan their home purchase, with a median of 10 months of planning
- Although both First-Time Buyers and Repeat Buyers predominately purchase detached homes (59% and 73% respectively), First-Time Buyers are more likely to purchase semi-detached, row/townhouses and condos
You can find the full survey results at http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/hoficlincl/moloin/rean/rean_037.cfm
Although homebuyers are using the internet more than ever when hunting for a new property, they still value the services provided by a professional REALTOR®. According the the National Association of Realtors, 90% of buyers using the internet to search for a home, purchased that home through a REALTOR.
42% of survey respondents started their homebuying process in 2013 by looking for properties online, up from 35% in 2011.
“While the vast majority of buyers use the Internet during the homebuying process, the Internet does not replace the real estate agent in the transaction. In fact, buyers who used the Internet were more likely than those who did not use the Internet to purchase their home through an agent,” the report said. The typical buyer who used the Internet in their home search is 41 years old with a median 2012 household income of $84,500 compaired with 61 years old and a median income of $66,000 for the typical buyer who did not use the Internet to search for a home.
See more at: http://www.inman.com/2013/11/04/homebuyers-more-likely-to-use-real-estate-agents-even-as-internet-usage-hits-an-all-time-high/
Here's another simple tip to help homeowners save on heating costs this winter...
Opening curtains on your south-facing windows during the day will allow sunlight to naturally heat your home. Close them at night to reduce the chill and consider installing insulating window treatments to further reduce heat loss.
- Replace your furnace filter every 3 months to improve efficiency
- Seal leaks around doors, windows and exterior wall outlets to keep warm air in
- Insulate your basement
- Insulate your attic with a minimum of 12 inches of insulation
- Lower the temperature setting on your thermostat by 2 degrees
- Upgrade to a high efficiency furnace
- Clean your ducts to remove dust and debris
These simple steps can add up to hundreds of dollars in energy savings over the year!